GRMC disputes TakeCare’s claims

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Guam – The Guam Regional Medical City is disputing TakeCare Guam president Joseph Husslein’s claim that extending the government of Guam’s insurance coverage to the private hospital would result in a staggering hike to healthcare cost.

Husslein earlier warned that taxpayers would end up shelling out an additional $10 million if Speaker Tina Muna Barnes’ Bill 30-35 is passed into law. But a GRMC executive said such a claim was “outdated, inaccurate and premature.”

“Mr. Husslein gave us these numbers but we’re not sure if it came out of thin air or where he gets these numbers from but since Mr. Husslein has never actually sat down to officially get through a negotiation with GRMC – even to know our full rate what we call our charge description master is, we are not sure how he’s even able to come up with these projections,” said Eric Plinske, director of corporate affairs at GRMC.

Husslein predicts an increase to GovGuam healthcare rates by threefold if the privately owned GRMC is included in GovGuam’s health insurance coverage.

TakeCare is one of the two health insurance carriers currently contracted by the government to provide insurance coverage for government employees and retirees. Select Care is the other provider. As it stands Take Care’s coverage is only with the Guam Memorial Hospital while Select Care covers both GMH and GRMC.

“However, a bill has been introduced by Speaker Tina Muna Barnes that would require any health insurance carrier wanting to contract with GovGuam would be required to include both hospitals in their coverage, a mandate that some call a ‘forced choice’ and even legal blackmail,” said Dr Tom Shieh.

But Muna-Barnes reminds the community of her bill’s raw intention, which is to spark conversation.

“I just want to share with you that this bill was introduced to give the opportunity to make sure our employees within the government of Guam and the retirees be afforded the opportunity to go to not just one hospital but both hospitals if the expertise is at one hospital and not the other,” the speaker said.

“We shouldn’t have to have our residents suffer the fact that they would have to think of sending their loved one to another hospital without knowing that coverage is there from a network that gets approved.”

Speaker Barnes continued, “and If we today are accepting Medicaid and MIP patients to go to a hospital that has the expertise that are needed for conditions, that are not available at our public hospital, our employees and retirees should be given that chance.”

According to the speaker, her introduction of Bill 30-35 is just the first step designed to give the health insurance negotiating team a place to start. It seeks to initiate discussions among health insurance providers, in regards to potential protocols and safety nets.

“If we need to look at an amendment to work with our colleagues to authorizes the insurance negotiating team that opportunity to engage to making sure that both hospitals are included in the equation, then I have no problems facilitating this bill through,” Muna Barnes said.

Bill 30-35 is now on the session agenda to be discussed on the floor. The next legislative session has been set for Monday at 10 a.m.

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Jolene Toves
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.