In her second State of the Island Address last night, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero touted the accomplishments of her first year in office and her plans for the future.
Among those plans is a proposal to create a program of health insurance for all island residents.
“Tonight, I call on this body and on our community to start the task of ensuring universal health coverage on Guam through a system of public self-insurance,” the governor said.
Health insurance for all. The governor said the coverage would be provided through existing provider networks who, it is hoped, will ultimately agree to offer comprehensive health services.
Carlo Branch, the chief policy advisor for the governor, said: “I think what the governor has made clear is that we want to create the system that best meets Guam’s needs and so we have the goal which is health care as a human right for all and to get that proposal into the legislature by the end of the year.”
He added: “So, I think we’ll be working with all the major players, physicians and health care providers to figure out a model that can work on Guam.”
A universal health insurance plan for all island residents could be publicly funded but privately managed, said Branch, or it could be both managed and funded publicly.
When PNC asked how much this will cost taxpayers, Branch answered: “I think what the governor said is that it already costs us tons of money. We essentially have universal health coverage on Guam, we just have it very badly. If you go to GMH and you are sick or ill, they will treat you. But usually, that happens at the end of your health care profile. So it becomes the most expensive healthcare that the taxpayers can pay for. So what the governor has acknowledged very smartly is that every taxpayer is paying for it, we just want to pay less for it and have better coverage.”
In her state of the island address, the governor said the funding for this self-insurance plan will require the pooling of every dollar the government spends on healthcare.
“This will become the primary focus of my policy team in the coming year,” the governor said.