Speaker Cruz and What’s “Financially Best” – A case study of failure and deception
In 2012, Speaker Cruz advocated for three health insurance carriers saying we had a duty to give our people access to quality health care and that choice promotes this. A large part of his argument and that of his colleagues was the competition would drive down cost and save the government money. The Governor agreed that choice was good, but did warn Senators there WOULD likely NOT be a savings – in fact the opposite would more likely be true. The Legislature passed the bill with a majority of Senators voting in favor of it – making it veto proof, and it became law.
Prior to this GovGuam only contracted with one carrier. For many years PacifiCare (now TakeCare) was the exclusive provider, but they ended up filing a lawsuit to get out of providing healthcare services to the thousands of Government of Guam employees and retirees, and their families. SelectCare then stepped in to provide health insurance to the government when no other carrier wanted to provide the service.
Following that, the late Senator Ben Pangelinan, with then Vice-Speaker BJ Cruz and Senator Tom Ada as co-sponsors, authored the bill to expand the health insurance procurement making it a non-exclusive agreement that lawmakers unanimously passed as Public Law 31-225.
Fast forwarding to 2017, Speaker Cruz (who has a seat on the health insurance negotiating team) complains that GovGuam’s health insurance costs too much. Moreover, a lack of information makes it hard for him to budget. (NOTE: The whole point on having a seat was to ensure the Legislature knows the cost of insurance). Instead of trying to work with the Administration, he launches insults at the Administration, insinuating that the Governor has somehow orchestrated a move to his family’s company even though no one else at the time submitted a bid after PacifiCare left.
Additionally, Speaker Cruz and those Senators who continue to work with him now advocate for another health insurance-related legislation; but this time he wants to change back to a single health insurance provider but one that submits the cheapest offer regardless of whether they provide an adequate range of services and access to hospitals and clinics.
Earlier this year, the Speaker fought against getting out tax refunds by June using misinformation on Section 30 funds, now he’s fighting to remove choice and quality healthcare from thousands of Gov Guam employees, retirees, and their families.
Instead of considering the negative impacts of this budget, the speaker chose to blame the Legislature’s failures on the Administration, saying that providing quality health insurance options for GovGuam employees, retirees and their families is not right (even after being the co-sponsor in 2012 to the bill that expanded the choice).
“If the Speaker wants to provide thousands of Gov Guam employees, retirees, and their families with the cheapest possible health insurance and restrict them from the current doctors and facilities they have access to, he should just say so,” Acting Governor Ray Tenorio said. “Unlike what the Legislature did with the recent budget they passed, we won’t turn a blind eye to our people.”