Bill offers solution to foster care insurance funding issue

(PNC photo)

Guam – The Foster Child Health Insurance program will run out by the end of May which could potentially interrupt the delivery of health care services to over 200 children under foster care. 

The insurance program was supposed to be funded in the FY 2019 budget. However, the number of children placed in the foster care system also increased this year which created a shortfall in the insurance funding.

Senator Amanda Shelton introduced Bill 139-35 on Wednesday to identify a solution. Through the measure, around $320,000 will be transferred from the General Fund to the Foster Child Health Insurance Program under the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

“We didn’t realize that there would be an increase in foster children that would deplete the money in the account so quickly, so we are transferring a little over $300,000 from the General Fund. That is in the intent of the bill – to continue their insurance coverage through the fiscal year,” Shelton said.

Shelton’s office said that their understanding is that the General Fund can cover the amount.

According to the Governor’s Communications Director Janela Carrera, the governor does have transfer authority to allocate funds for purposes under her organic authority but currently her office is reviewing the proposed measure.

She added; ” Session has been called for Tuesday, which would leave the Senator with only 4 days for a public hearing.”

According to Shelton’s office, they have every intention of having a public hearing on the bill so foster families can be heard..

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Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.