Good Afternoon, Guam!
No Care from Obama
A weekly address by Governor Eddie Baza Calvo
Hafa Adai, my fellow Guamanians.
Recently, thousands of government workers and retirees chose, for the first time in six years, what health insurance they want. Ironically, at about the same time, I rejected a major component of Obama Care because of the lack of choices it gives us here.
The Health Insurance Exchange is supposed to be like open enrollment for the government insurance plans. People look for the benefits they need, the price they can afford, and are given choices on the plans that may be right for them.
Unfortunately, the federal government gave all of the territories no options on how to fund this program. All the money the feds are giving the states; and all the taxes that are supposed to pay for this exchange, don’t apply to Guam — or any of the other territories.
This means the federal government would force Guam to find the money on our own, money they know very well we can’t afford. It will cost more than $100 million just to stand up the Insurance Exchange. GovGuam will be forced to pay $74 million every year to keep the program going.
This is just another example of the federal government treating the territories like second-class citizens. None of the states have to figure out how to afford this: they’re given the money for it.
I’m very disappointed, because ObamaCare is supposed to help the 30,000 Guamanians without insurance — and it doesn’t. Once again, the federal government leaves us no choice but to figure it out on our own.
This doesn’t take away the critical need for tens of thousands of Guamanians…and it doesn’t change the work my administration is doing to get an answer to them.
There are some parallels between the just-closed open enrollment and how we may be able to help our 30,000 vulnerable brothers and sisters. The government is able to provide good coverage to its employees, retirees, and their dependents because we include all of them on one plan. Perhaps if we can put all of the uninsured in the same pool, spreading the risk amongst themselves, we can find a plan that will give them coverage.
How we go about finding a solution and implementing it will require a lot of thought. I can’t say that we will have something to you overnight, because that would be a lie.
What I will say to each and every one of you who struggle with affording medical care is this:
I promise we are working toward a solution. This is a matter of grave importance to Ray and me…we won’t let this issue go by the wayside. That I promise you.
Thank you, and God bless.