Please find the VIDEO and TEXT of the Governor’s Weekly Address.
For the 30,000: A Weekly Address
By Eddie Baza Calvo
Hafa Adai, my fellow Guamanians.
Since coming into office, Ray and I have been working hard to help Guam’s most vulnerable: our children, our elderly, our sick, and our poor. We’ve paid more in tax refunds than any other administration in history. We’ve made the dream of homeownership real for hundreds of families. And today, I’m proud to announce the start of a new initiative that will help the 30,000 Guamanians who don’t have health insurance.
You see, tax refunds and home ownership are important…and we will continue to push for these…but knowing the health and wellbeing of 30,000 Guamanians is at stake…something must be done. We cannot let our people slip through the cracks simply because they cannot afford medical insurance.
This is a problem that affects our quality of life… This is a problem for every parent who worries about taking care of their kids when they’re sick… This is a problem that we know will cost more tomorrow, if we don’t address it today…
I’m gathering a group of stakeholders…experts who have ideas…and maybe a genius solution on how the government can help this large portion of our island. These people include Senator Dennis Rodriguez, local doctors, insurance carriers, and economists. I’m sure that when we put our heads together, and begin a serious discussion on this issue…that we will be able to help a lot of people.
I’ve been thinking about this…and I have three ideas so far on how we may be able to insure our 30,000 brothers and sisters.
The first is to expand Medicaid to include more people. By raising the income threshold for Medicaid, we can capture more Guamanians in the plan.
The second idea is changing the law and requiring everyone to have health insurance…similar to ObamaCare. This spreads all the risks so that costs stay down. In order to make this work, the government would have to provide a credit for middle-income workers to use to pay for the insurance premiums. I tend not to favor this idea.. I’m hoping we can find another option than this…but we should at least talk about it.
Then there’s a third idea that’s more of an incentive program. A lot of small businesses can’t afford health insurance for their employees. We could allow these businesses to band together as coops to provide insurance to their employees. A tax credit can be applied to the cooperative, distributed to the business and employee based on how much of the premium they pay.
These ideas will cost money…money that should be coming from health insurance companies that currently don’t pay taxes. I’ve directed GEDA to capture this revenue so we can pay for a solution, whether that’s an increase to Medicaid… or a premium tax credit for the individual mandate… or incentives for private health insurance cooperatives.
These are just ideas, and I’m sure there are many more out there. I’m calling on experts and stakeholders to get this started… to develop and implement long-term solutions so all our families get the medical care they need to stay healthy… before they ever get sick.
Communities everywhere are struggling with ways to deal with insuring their people… It’s time we get creative… and it’s clear that something needs to be done. This is an investment for our future… This program will save lives… I’m hopeful that all our island leaders…from senators to doctors… from tax analysts to insurance companies…can all agree on this. Thirty thousand people are counting on us.
Thank you, and God bless.