Attorney Argues GMH Should Use “Reimbursement” Money for Unpaid Migrant Bills

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Attorney William Bischoff believes it’s clear that the word “reimbursement” means that GMH is already receiving funds for compact migrants’ unpaid bills.

Guam – Attorney Bill Bischoff is continuing his fight for compact migrants whose tax refunds were garnished by the Guam Memorial Hospital.

 

 

Bischoff says it boils down to the definition of the word reimbursement. 

Attorney Bill Bischoff filed an objection to the Guam Memorial Hospital’s report and recommendations to dismiss the class action lawsuit Bischoff filed against the hospital. Bischoff is arguing that his client, compact migrant Tairin Atesom and other migrants should not have their tax refunds garnished because the hospital receives compact-impact reimbursement.

And that’s the word Bischoff centers his argument on. The main issue, he says, is how the term reimbursement, as used in the federal treaty, is to be interpreted. Bischoff points out that in the Compact of Free Association, the term “reimbursement” is not defined.

But he believes the intended definition of the word is as a repayment or indemnity for the “unpaid bills of working-poor Compact migrants.”

Because GMH receives a reimbursement from the federal government under the agreement of the compact, they should not be able to essentially collect twice by garnishing compact migrants’ tax refunds, he argues.

Bischoff notes that GMH has acknowledged that they apply reimbursement money to hospital facilities and equipment improvements and none of it is applied to compact migrants’ bills.

“Just because GMHA does not apply that federal reimbursement money to the unpaid bills of poor, vote-less Compact migrants does not make it right,” he argues. “It is ‘reimbursement’ money, not facilities  improvement or other money. The parties to the Compact presumably called it ‘reimbursement’ money because it was intended to be used that way.”

Nevertheless, Bischoff notes that whether GMH is improperly allocating compact reimbursement funds toward capital improvement projects or toward migrants’ unpaid bills, it shouldn’t matter. Bischoff says ultimately what he’s asking for is that GMH be barred from garnishing the tax refunds of compact migrants who have unpaid hospital bills.

Between 2011 to 2015, GMH spent $22.9 million in compact impact funding for capital improvement projects. Also, from 2011 to 2015, the grand total of unpaid accounts from FAS citizens was $61 million. During those years GMH garnished a total of $7.9 million in tax refunds from compact migrants.

Bischoff is asking that his case not be dismissed.

You can read his objection by clicking on the file below.

 

bischoff_objection_to_gmh.pdf