Once again, Vice Speaker BJ Cruz is confusing the situation, going back and forth on the health insurance issue. He and other Democrats sponsored a bill several years ago that required the Administration to seek out multiple health insurance carriers. They were warned about the increased cost. However, they pushed Bill 435-31 and it lapsed into Public Law 31-197. As he voices his concerns with cost now, here are some facts to consider:
- Vice Speaker Cruz co-authored Bill 435-31 that called for multiple health insurance carriers.
- For years, there was only one insurance provider. People wanted multiple options so they could determine what doctors, clinics, providers, and overall coverage best suited the needs of their families. The Democratic leadership responded by introducing Bill 435-31.
- It has always been cheaper to have a single provider and it WILL always be cheaper because the carrier has the benefit of ALL enrollment and ALL premiums. Insurance company representatives shared this information with Vice Speaker BJ Cruz and others who sponsored Bill 435-31. The administration, while agreeing with the intent of the bill to provide choice and improved quality of life, also shared these concerns.
- In addition, the cost of health, dental and life insurance increased because the Legislature mandated that retirees shouldn’t pay more than an active employee.
- Vice Speaker Cruz’s office has a representative on the negotiating team. The point of the law giving the Office of Finance and Budget that seat was so the Legislature isn’t left in the dark when it comes to the cost of the contract. The Legislature has three representatives, two ex-officio (non voting) and one voting representative.
- A press release in June 2012 clearly illustrates the intent of including legislative representatives: P.L. 31-24, authored by Senator Rodriguez mandates the inclusion of the Guam Legislature’s Chairman of Health and Finance Committee as ex-officio members of the government of Guam’s Health Insurance Negotiating Team. During the FY2012 health insurance negotiations, Senator Rodriguez and the rest of the team members were instrumental in lowering the health insurance premiums by $7 Million Dollars versus the FY2011 plan and at the same time increased plan benefits to employees, retirees, and dependents by $4 Million Dollars.