Former governor’s spokesman alleges corruption & collusion in awarding of Calvo’s SelectCare contract

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Governor Eddie Calvo’s former director of communications and political adviser Troy Torres has made yet more allegations of government corruption.

This time he is accusing the Calvo/Tenorio administration of conspiring to give the GovGuam health insurance contract to Calvo’s Selectcare a company owned by Governor Calvo’s family. Governor Calvo however called into to the “Mornings with Patti” show on Newstalk K57 saying these allegations are false.

In a letter sent to Speaker B.J. Cruz. Attorney General Elizabeth Barret Anderson and rules committee chairwoman Senator Regine Biscoe Lee, Torres alleged government corruption and collusion to give the GovGuam health insurance contract to Calvo’s Selectcare.

Torres wrote “Every contract for GovGuam health insurance done by the HINT (Health Insurance Negotiating Team) from the contract first executed in full by the Calvo/Tenorio administration to the one in commission now was improperly and illegally done to favor Calvo’s Selectcare.”

Torres alleges that every year since 2011 the governor’s chief fiscal advisor Bernadette Artero and both former Chief of Staff Franklin Arriola and current Chief of Staff Mark Calvo would ensure that Calvo’s Selectcare either got the exclusive health insurance contract or the lion’s share of the contract.

Torres claims Artero, Manglona and Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio’s Chief of Staff Jadeen Tuncap would manipulate the health insurance negotiating team and he says, “it happened every single year.”

The health insurance negotiating team is supposed to be an autonomous board that works towards negotiating the best contract possible with the companies who are bidding for GovGuam’s lucrative health insurance contract. This team then presents the results of their negotiations to the Governor for his final decision on who should be awarded the contract. Since taking office Governor Calvo has deferred this decision to Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio to avoid any conflict of interest.

The contract with Selectcare used to be exclusive despite the fact that other insurance providers offered lower rates. According to news files Senator Ben Pangelinan introduced a bill in 2012 co-sponsored by 10 other senators that would’ve made the contract non-exclusive in order to allow employees to choose from a list of potential insurers, so they could choose the one that best fit their needs or offered the lowest rates. The idea was that this could save GovGuam money as employees would be able to choose the more affordable carrier rather than forcing them to go with a carrier that was more expensive.

Torres alleges that “The governor personally orchestrated legislative opposition through then-Sen. Tony Ada, who was the minority leader in the legislature at the time.” Torres says despite concerns by then Senators Mana Silva Taijeron, Sam Mabini and Aline Yamashita the minority caucus would be called into the governor’s chambers “where Gov. Calvo was directly involved in an effort to defeat the bill from passing in the legislature.”

A multi-carrier choice law was eventually passed but Torres alleges that “the administration changed its tune on the subject singing the praises of the choice law only after the bids came in and Takecare was seen as the lowest qualified respondent in the exclusive contract scenario.”

The idea is that since most GovGuam employees already had Calvo’s Selectcare when it was the only one they were allowed to have most would let their insurance plan roll over into the next year instead of looking at the more affordable Takecare option.

Torres says this continued every year until the legislature mandated that GovGuam choose the most affordable carrier. Torres says it’s only after that mandate that a new qualification was added requiring the health insurance provider to have a contract with the Guam Regional Medical City something that Takecare does not have due to disagreements over the GRMC’s costs.

Torres writes “I know about the collusion to ensure Selectcare’s piece of the pie because I was periodically updated by Artero and Tuncap on the HINT’s activities during times when the HINT was not supposed to be sharing any information with anyone outside the HINT.”

In fact, members of the HINT are required to sign non-disclosure agreements. Despite this Torres alleges that Tuncap and Manglona regularly made reports to Arriola, Calvo and Tenorio. He says Tuncap and Manglona would then be ordered to convince or strong arm the majority of the members into “voting in ways that eventually led to the adoption of whatever scheme benefitted Calvo’s Selectcare most.”

Troy says that as the governor’s political advisor he, Lt. Governor Tenorio, Arriola, Manglona and Tuncap would be called into the governor’s chambers right before Lt Governor Tenorio was to sign off on the contract in order to “understand precisely what was to happen as it had been dictated by Calvo, and what would be said and who would say it once the lieutenant governor signed whatever document led to Selectcare receiving a ton of money from the taxpayers and ratepayers. It was all a scam.”

Torres also says he is willing to testify before “any legislative inquiry or grand jury that may be convened for this purpose and for the investigation of many other acts of corruption by this administration and others.”