Governor Accuses Democratic Leadership of Protecting One Insurance Company With Passage of Bill #174

166

Guam – Governor Eddie Calvo reacted to the passage of Bill #174 by accusing the Democratic Leadership of “protecting the interests of one insurance company” and “turning important issues into political games.”

Throughout the Saturday morning debate on Senator Ben Pangleinan’s Bill #174,  the Governor’s Office issued a flurry of statements [read them all below].

The final release, after passage of the bill, quotes the Governor as saying that “after all these years of accusing me of protecting an insurance company, the bill they are sending me does exactly that: they are protecting the interests of one insurance company.”

Bill #174 passed along party lines with all 6 Republican’s voting against it and the 8 Democrats voting for it.

READ Bill #174 HERE

The Democrats argued that it will save GovGuam $18.7 million dollars on insurance costs. 

However one of the statements from Adelup called that “funny money”saying  “Democrat senators are pledging to use a supposed $18 million “saved” from awarding a contract to ONE CERTAIN INSURANCE COMPANY for COLA for GovGuam retirees. This is funny money.”

 

“We’re defending choice, while the former proponents of choice are now defending an insurance company,” said Communications Director Troy Torres in an earlier statement issued while debate on the bill was ongoing.

 “The question needs to be asked, why is there a rush to defend the interest of the insurance companies over the ability of the employees and retirees to choose? Why is this being done so late in the game, when this can even throw the entire procurement process into protest yet again?”

“FOR SOME STRANGE REASON,” states the release, “the very same critics who for three years have been advocating for choice are now advocating to protect the interest of ONE INSURANCE COMPANY.”

Just who that health insurance company might be is not stated.

Three health insurance companies were qualified to offer health insurance to GovGuam employees by the Health Insurance negotiating team. No final contracts have been signed yet and the names of the providers have not been released.

READ the DOA Health Insurance Negotiating Team report HERE   

Another statement from the Governor’s Office accuses the Democrats of  “supporting a single, exclusive health insurance contract – a clear contradiction of earlier statements from them.”

The Governor’s Office also accsued the Demcratic leadership of threatneing the ongoing procurment process. “Contract negotiations are already underway for a multi-carrier plan.  Notices of award have already been given to these three insurance companies.  Interrupting this process is more than just bad faith negotiating, but also in clear violation of procurement laws.”  


**********Statements Issued by Governor’s Office Saturday During and After Debate on Bill #174 **********

READ release #1 from Adelup below:

Senators in Session to Defend an Insurance Company

Senators are in session, not discussing the budget, but returning to a three-year-old political attack on the Governor: health insurance.

This is just another political go-around and baseless distraction. Senator Tommy Morrison, objecting to the attacks via new Bill 174 (which was introduced at 9:02 a.m. today with no public hearing), said on the floor, “I don’t want another manufactured crisis from this body because of the unwillingness to compromise with the Governor. This bill is designed to create a disaster scenario to drag out the budget.”

Bill No. 174 is an interesting twist to the three-year-old political attack on Governor Calvo. For three years, certain Democrats have attacked the Governor for the exclusive health insurance option. Last year, Governor Calvo was prepared to respond by choosing the multiple insurance carriers option. The Legislature interfered with the procurement process in the middle of last year’s negotiations, and the entire process was thrown into protest before the Governor could choose the multiple carrier option.

This year, the health insurance negotiating team was able to complete the process, and the Governor did choose the non-exclusive option… providing employees and retirees with a choice among three insurance companies in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2014.

FOR SOME STRANGE REASON the very same critics who for three years have been advocating for choice are now advocating to protect the interest of ONE INSURANCE COMPANY.

“We’re defending choice, while the former proponents of choice are now defending an insurance company,” Director of Communications Troy Torres said. “The question needs to be asked, why is there a rush to defend the interest of the insurance companies over the ability of the employees and retirees to choose? Why is this being done so late in the game, when this can even throw the entire procurement process into protest yet again?”

“Bill 174 takes away choice, takes away that freedom,” Senator Tony Ada said on the floor.

We should also note that the Governor’s Legal Counsel issued a Freedom of Information Act request to the budget chairman requesting public correspondence between him and the Office of Finance and Budget director with a certain insurance company. No response has been provided.
 the issue of choice, it was just three months ago, when two senators in the majority made the argument against an exclusive insurance carrier, and for the multiple-carrier scenario they now argue against:

Senator A:

“It does not make sense to only offer one choice to our people because we want to put everybody together, and maybe keep costs down.  In the end, competition and choices is [sic] good for our people.  So what kind of benefits package do we want to offer our people’s employees?  Do we want to give them only one choice?  Or would a prudent employer who values their employees give them more choices?  We talk about our retirees, and there won’t be a single person in this room who says they don’t value their retirees.  But in the end, Madam Speaker, how much we value them is going to be reflected in this vote, because our retirees only have one provider of health insurance – and that is the health insurance the government of Guam provides.  Do we value them so much that we want to give them choices?  Truly, we value them.  Let our votes reflect that value.  This is the question before us, Madam Speaker.  This is the hard work that Speaker Ben [Pangelinan] put together in this bill.  And I’m hopeful that today is the day, and this bill is the bill, where we will all be so brave enough to say, “Politics be damned.  Let’s do what we know is right.”  Thank you, Madam Speaker.”

Senator B:

“So it makes healthcare more accessible to the GovGuam employee and their family.  That’s what Bill 81 does – not the way it is today.  Today, we have a health insurance program – one choice for the government of Guam employees, no opportunity to make any other choices.  Every single market of health insurance has an opportunity to choose – except for the government of Guam health insurance program.  That’s what it is, nothing else.  It’s as simple as that.  It guarantees freedom of choice and access to the market.  The process today doesn’t guarantee that choice, as SelectCare had the opportunity of being guaranteed into the federal employees’ market with the other offerings, as long as they were qualified – and that’s what we do here, Madam Speaker.  What is this? This is a process that will eliminate the monopoly we have, in which one single company will be the provider of health insurance services to the GovGuam employees.  So the only question then, is: whose interest are we gonna [sic] protect?  Are we gonna [sic] protect the employee interest, who now will be able to have a choice on where he can go?  I believe that’s the interest I want to protect, and I certainly hope those are the interests that every single member of this body will protect, instead of protecting one, single interest.  And that’s what it is, Madam Speaker – and that’s why I’m pleading with my colleagues: please, please support this override, and let’s guarantee that this economy and this government will have a policy for open, fair, and honest competition.  Thank you and Si Yu’os Ma’ase, Madam Speaker.”

READ release #2 from Adelup below:

Democrats Propose Procurement Violation, Contradict Themselves on Insurance Contract

Democrats are now supporting a single, exclusive health insurance contract – a clear contradiction of earlier statements from them.  In a legislative session, both Senators Ben Pangelinan and Mike San Nicolas asked their colleagues to override the Governor’s veto on Bill no. 81, which would have mandated only multiple carriers for government insurance and would have taken away the very option they now purport to want.

Worse than their politically-motivated change of position, is a provision in the newest version of the budget which requires a single carrier for health insurance.

Majority Leader Rory Respicio claimed the Legislature is not mandating the Governor choose an exclusive option for insurance, but the new budget bill only appropriates enough money for the exclusive contract, effectively cutting the multiple carrier option from employees and retirees.

Contract negotiations are already underway for a multi-carrier plan.  Notices of award have already been given to these three insurance companies.  Interrupting this process is more than just bad faith negotiating, but also in clear violation of procurement laws. This sets the stage for another year of protests just one month before the new fiscal year will start with a new plan year for health insurance.

Excerpts from their comments on session floor follow:

Senator Mike San Nicolas

It does not make sense to only offer one choice to our people because we want to put everybody together, and maybe keep costs down.  In the end, competition and choices is [sic] good for our people.  So what kind of benefits package do we want to offer our people’s employees?  Do we want to give them only one choice?  Or would a prudent employer who values their employees give them more choices?  We talk about our retirees, and there won’t be a single person in this room who says they don’t value their retirees.  But in the end, Madam Speaker, how much we value them is going to be reflected in this vote, because our retirees only have one provider of health insurance – and that is the health insurance the government of Guam provides.  Do we value them so much that we want to give them choices?  Truly, we value them.  Let our votes reflect that value.  This is the question before us, Madam Speaker.  This is the hard work that Speaker Ben [Pangelinan] put together in this bill.  And I’m hopeful that today is the day, and this bill is the bill, where we will all be so brave enough to say, “Politics be damned.  Let’s do what we know is right.”  Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Senator Ben Pangelinan

So it makes healthcare more accessible to the GovGuam employee and their family.  That’s what Bill 81 does – not the way it is today.  Today, we have a health insurance program – one choice for the government of Guam employees, no opportunity to make any other choices.  Every single market of health insurance has an opportunity to choose – except for the government of Guam health insurance program.  That’s what it is, nothing else.  It’s as simple as that.  It guarantees freedom of choice and access to the market.  The process today doesn’t guarantee that choice, as SelectCare had the opportunity of being guaranteed into the federal employees’ market with the other offerings, as long as they were qualified – and that’s what we do here, Madam Speaker.  What is this? This is a process that will eliminate the monopoly we have, in which one single company will be the provider of health insurance services to the GovGuam employees.  So the only question then, is: whose interest are we gonna [sic] protect?  Are we gonna [sic] protect the employee interest, who now will be able to have a choice on where he can go?  I believe that’s the interest I want to protect, and I certainly hope those are the interests that every single member of this body will protect, instead of protecting one, single interest.  And that’s what it is, Madam Speaker – and that’s why I’m pleading with my colleagues: please, please support this override, and let’s guarantee that this economy and this government will have a policy for open, fair, and honest competition.  Thank you and Si Yu’os Ma’ase, Madam Speaker. 

READ release #3 from Adelup below:

Senators in Session to Defend an Insurance Company

 Senators are in session, not discussing the budget, but returning to a three-year-old political attack on the Governor: health insurance.

This is just another political go-around and baseless distraction. Senator Tommy Morrison, objecting to the attacks via new Bill 174 (which was introduced at 9:02 a.m. today with no public hearing), said on the floor, “I don’t want another manufactured crisis from this body because of the unwillingness to compromise with the Governor. This bill is designed to create a disaster scenario to drag out the budget.”

 Bill No. 174 is an interesting twist to the three-year-old political attack on Governor Calvo. For three years, certain Democrats have attacked the Governor for the exclusive health insurance option. Last year, Governor Calvo was prepared to respond by choosing the multiple insurance carriers option. The Legislature interfered with the procurement process in the middle of last year’s negotiations, and the entire process was thrown into protest before the Governor could choose the multiple carrier option.

This year, the health insurance negotiating team was able to complete the process, and the Governor did choose the non-exclusive option… providing employees and retirees with a choice among three insurance companies in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2014.

 FOR SOME STRANGE REASON the very same critics who for three years have been advocating for choice are now advocating to protect the interest of ONE INSURANCE COMPANY.

 “We’re defending choice, while the former proponents of choice are now defending an insurance company,” Director of Communications Troy Torres said. “The question needs to be asked, why is there a rush to defend the interest of the insurance companies over the ability of the employees and retirees to choose? Why is this being done so late in the game, when this can even throw the entire procurement process into protest yet again?”

 “Bill 174 takes away choice, takes away that freedom,” Senator Tony Ada said on the floor.

 We should also note that the Governor’s Legal Counsel issued a Freedom of Information Act request to the budget chairman requesting public correspondence between him and the Office of Finance and Budget director with a certain insurance company. No response has been provided.

On the issue of choice, it was just three months ago, when two senators in the majority made the argument against an exclusive insurance carrier, and for the multiple-carrier scenario they now argue against:

 Senator A:

“It does not make sense to only offer one choice to our people because we want to put everybody together, and maybe keep costs down.  In the end, competition and choices is [sic] good for our people.  So what kind of benefits package do we want to offer our people’s employees?  Do we want to give them only one choice?  Or would a prudent employer who values their employees give them more choices?  We talk about our retirees, and there won’t be a single person in this room who says they don’t value their retirees.  But in the end, Madam Speaker, how much we value them is going to be reflected in this vote, because our retirees only have one provider of health insurance – and that is the health insurance the government of Guam provides.  Do we value them so much that we want to give them choices?  Truly, we value them.  Let our votes reflect that value.  This is the question before us, Madam Speaker.  This is the hard work that Speaker Ben [Pangelinan] put together in this bill.  And I’m hopeful that today is the day, and this bill is the bill, where we will all be so brave enough to say, “Politics be damned.  Let’s do what we know is right.”  Thank you, Madam Speaker.”

Senator B:

“So it makes healthcare more accessible to the GovGuam employee and their family.  That’s what Bill 81 does – not the way it is today.  Today, we have a health insurance program – one choice for the government of Guam employees, no opportunity to make any other choices.  Every single market of health insurance has an opportunity to choose – except for the government of Guam health insurance program.  That’s what it is, nothing else.  It’s as simple as that.  It guarantees freedom of choice and access to the market.  The process today doesn’t guarantee that choice, as SelectCare had the opportunity of being guaranteed into the federal employees’ market with the other offerings, as long as they were qualified – and that’s what we do here, Madam Speaker.  What is this? This is a process that will eliminate the monopoly we have, in which one single company will be the provider of health insurance services to the GovGuam employees.  So the only question then, is: whose interest are we gonna [sic] protect?  Are we gonna [sic] protect the employee interest, who now will be able to have a choice on where he can go?  I believe that’s the interest I want to protect, and I certainly hope those are the interests that every single member of this body will protect, instead of protecting one, single interest.  And that’s what it is, Madam Speaker – and that’s why I’m pleading with my colleagues: please, please support this override, and let’s guarantee that this economy and this government will have a policy for open, fair, and honest competition.  Thank you and Si Yu’os Ma’ase, Madam Speaker.”

READ release #4 from Adelup below:

Funny Money Pledged to COLA; One Insurance Company to Benefit

Democrat senators are pledging to use a supposed $18 million “saved” from awarding a contract to ONE CERTAIN INSURANCE COMPANY for COLA for GovGuam retirees. This is funny money.

Senator Mike Limtiaco has just raised a very important point about this:

“We don’t even know that this figure is true. The fact is, if everyone chose the 1500 plan – the more expensive one, then we will have no money saved on this plan. That’s why it’s irresponsible to assume we can promise this money to retirees and employees.”

Sen. Limtiaco is right. There is no mathematical way of computing the price of the health insurance contract because the customers (the employees and retirees) haven’t chosen between the 1500 and HSA2000 insurance plans. There is a very big price difference between the two plans. And unless the Legislature wants to legislate the 1500 plan out of the options while limiting GovGuam to a monopoly of one insurance carrier, then the Legislature has no responsible way of computing any savings, if there are to be any.

The inability to compute any savings until open enrollment is done begs another question: How will the majority leadership promise money to retirees and employees without knowing if there will be any savings at all.

 “This is just another empty promise to retirees and employees,” Director of Communications Troy Torres said.

So if there’s no way of knowing savings and no way of appropriating money that isn’t there, then the only thing left is that the Legislature is trying to force the government to choose ONE INSURANCE COMPANY for a multi-million dollar health insurance contract.

“I’m going to call for a Caucus of Common Sense and Compromise. We can’t compromise on the budget and yet we have this (Bill 174). How long are we going to drag this on. If we can’t come to a compromise for our people, then something’s wrong with the Legislature,” Sen. Brant McCreadie said on the floor of the Legislature.

READ release #5 from Adelup below:

Bill to Protect One Insurance Company Passes down Party Lines

Democrat senators, straight down party lines, passed a bill that pledges “$18 million” that they or anyone else doesn’t know exist. The Democrat senators are saying this money will go to full restoration of COLA and other empty promises.

“We shouldn’t be making empty promises to the retirees. We keep stressing this point. We can’t be political about this and make empty promises that will lead to hurting people once again,” Sen. Chris Duenas said.

After all the debate from her colleagues, Sen. Aline Yamashita called for more information and for everyone to respect the integrity of the legislative and procurement processes.

“All I’m asking for, Mr. Speaker, is what you’ve all taught me the past three years: that the process is important. The devil is in the details,” Sen. Aline Yamashita said, calling for everyone to be reasonable and to respect the integrity of processes.

“I’ll take a look at this bill, but this is – yet again for a third year in a row – the Democrat leadership turning important issues into political games. I wish they wouldn’t do this. I wish they wouldn’t play these games. The most ironic thing about all of this is that after all these years of accusing me of protecting an insurance company, the bill they are sending me does exactly that: they are protecting the interests of one insurance company.” – Governor Eddie Baza Calvo