GovGuam health insurance bill is heard on session floor

Newly elected Speaker of the 35th Guam Legislature Tina Rose Muna Barnes, pictured during her keynote at the Guam Congress Building on inauguration day, Monday, January 7, 2019.

Details of the controversial GovGuam health insurance bill remains shakey with the negotiation process between health insurance negotiators and providers pending. However, discussions regarding Speaker Tina Muna Barnes’ Bill 30-35, on session floor only raised more questions.

Guam – The Guam Regional Medical City continues to combat claims of a staggering increase to health insurance premiums for taxpayers, a claim made by Take Care one of GovGuam’s current health insurance providers.

“It’s preposterous for Take Care to claim there’s gonna be these huge rate increases because if common sense tells you there’s 84% of the market that currently has GRMC on their network already priced for it, the only ones that are looking at getting an increase are those that have Take Care,” said Vice President of GRMC’s Corporate Affairs Eric Plinske.

Plinske provided a breakdown of the costs to health insurance premiums for GovGuam, since the addition of GRMC as an in-network healthcare provider in 2016.

“There was about a 13% increase in the medical premiums,” said Plinske. “Then it only went up the following year, premiums all things considered, including GRMC, went up 1% going into 2017, 5% going into 2018 and went up 2% going into 2019.”

Today, Bill 30-35 went before legislators only opening the floor to even more questions about the potential mandate to include all public and private hospitals in GovGuam’s insurance coverage.

However, a wave of support for the raw intentions of the Speaker’s Bill was noted by several Senators but the undetermined cost analysis of such a mandate, keeps lawmakers on the fence of completely rising in support of her bill.

According to Oversight Chair of the Office of Finance and Budget Senator Joe San Agustin, it’s too early to determine the fiscal impacts of Bill 30-35 as such data will not be compiled until the health insurance negotiators sit down with health insurance providers.

However he reminds his colleagues that “Number 1, the only one private hospital today has a QC and there’s only one insurance company that has a QC and I’d like to see why they can’t offer all the benefits to GovGuam employees to include everybody else on the island.”

Conversations on the Bill continue.