Senators in Session to Defend an Insurance Company
Senators are in session, not discussing the budget, but returning to a three-year-old political attack on the Governor: health insurance.
This is just another political go-around and baseless distraction. Senator Tommy Morrison, objecting to the attacks via new Bill 174 (which was introduced at 9:02 a.m. today with no public hearing), said on the floor, “I don’t want another manufactured crisis from this body because of the unwillingness to compromise with the Governor. This bill is designed to create a disaster scenario to drag out the budget.”
Bill No. 174 is an interesting twist to the three-year-old political attack on Governor Calvo. For three years, certain Democrats have attacked the Governor for the exclusive health insurance option. Last year, Governor Calvo was prepared to respond by choosing the multiple insurance carriers option. The Legislature interfered with the procurement process in the middle of last year’s negotiations, and the entire process was thrown into protest before the Governor could choose the multiple carrier option.
This year, the health insurance negotiating team was able to complete the process, and the Governor did choose the non-exclusive option… providing employees and retirees with a choice among three insurance companies in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2014.
FOR SOME STRANGE REASON the very same critics who for three years have been advocating for choice are now advocating to protect the interest of ONE INSURANCE COMPANY.
“We’re defending choice, while the former proponents of choice are now defending an insurance company,” Director of Communications Troy Torres said. “The question needs to be asked, why is there a rush to defend the interest of the insurance companies over the ability of the employees and retirees to choose? Why is this being done so late in the game, when this can even throw the entire procurement process into protest yet again?”
“Bill 174 takes away choice, takes away that freedom,” Senator Tony Ada said on the floor.
We should also note that the Governor’s Legal Counsel issued a Freedom of Information Act request to the budget chairman requesting public correspondence between him and the Office of Finance and Budget director with a certain insurance company. No response has been provided.
On the issue of choice, it was just three months ago, when two senators in the majority made the argument against an exclusive insurance carrier, and for the multiple-carrier scenario they now argue against:
“It does not make sense to only offer one choice to our people because we want to put everybody together, and maybe keep costs down. In the end, competition and choices is [sic] good for our people. So what kind of benefits package do we want to offer our people’s employees? Do we want to give them only one choice? Or would a prudent employer who values their employees give them more choices? We talk about our retirees, and there won’t be a single person in this room who says they don’t value their retirees. But in the end, Madam Speaker, how much we value them is going to be reflected in this vote, because our retirees only have one provider of health insurance — and that is the health insurance the government of Guam provides. Do we value them so much that we want to give them choices? Truly, we value them. Let our votes reflect that value. This is the question before us, Madam Speaker. This is the hard work that Speaker Ben [Pangelinan] put together in this bill. And I’m hopeful that today is the day, and this bill is the bill, where we will all be so brave enough to say, “Politics be damned. Let’s do what we know is right.” Thank you, Madam Speaker.”
“So it makes healthcare more accessible to the GovGuam employee and their family. That’s what Bill 81 does — not the way it is today. Today, we have a health insurance program — one choice for the government of Guam employees, no opportunity to make any other choices. Every single market of health insurance has an opportunity to choose — except for the government of Guam health insurance program. That’s what it is, nothing else. It’s as simple as that. It guarantees freedom of choice and access to the market. The process today doesn’t guarantee that choice, as SelectCare had the opportunity of being guaranteed into the federal employees’ market with the other offerings, as long as they were qualified — and that’s what we do here, Madam Speaker. What is this? This is a process that will eliminate the monopoly we have, in which one single company will be the provider of health insurance services to the GovGuam employees. So the only question then, is: whose interest are we gonna [sic] protect? Are we gonna [sic] protect the employee interest, who now will be able to have a choice on where he can go? I believe that’s the interest I want to protect, and I certainly hope those are the interests that every single member of this body will protect, instead of protecting one, single interest. And that’s what it is, Madam Speaker — and that’s why I’m pleading with my colleagues: please, please support this override, and let’s guarantee that this economy and this government will have a policy for open, fair, and honest competition. Thank you and Si Yu’os Ma’ase, Madam Speaker.”
Senators in Session to Defend an Insurance Company