Legislature passes GovGuam insurance expansion, property improve tax bills

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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.

Senators on Wednesday passed Speaker Tina Muna Barnes’ bill that would expand the healthcare providers network under the government of Guam’s insurance plan.

 

Guam – The amended bill, which would allow GovGuam employees and retirees to seek treatments in private hospitals, passed with 13 ayes.

Sen. Jim Moylan, whose family owns Moylan Insurance, recused himself due to a potential conflict of interest, while Sen. Therese Terlaje was excused.

Take Care president and CEO, Joseph Husslein issued a statement shortly following the bill’s passage. “While TakeCare is pleased that Bill 30-35 was not passed as introduced, we will review and assess the language,” he said. “TakeCare stands for balancing expanded coverage and affordability at the choice of the consumer.”

Muna Barnes said the bill’s passage is the first step to improve healthcare access on Guam.

“By unanimous vote today, the Legislature has recognized the people’s new definition of what the standard of healthcare is on Guam and their right to access that care without fear of excess financial burden,” Barnes said in a statement.

“We thank all the senators for their support and confidence in our continued efforts to provide high quality, specialized care” stated Francis Santos, senior vice president for  Strategic Planning and Business Development at the Guam Regna Medical City.

Senators also passed Bill 4-35, which aims at clarifying the additional tax levy on real property improvement valued at one million dollars or more, by a 10-4 vote.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party lashed back at Minority Leader Wil Castro, who slammed the legislative leadership on Tuesday for disregarding the rules on listing bills on the agenda.

“Senator Castro isn’t against taxing you he’s just against taxing the few people who own million-dollar properties.  We won’t forget that Senator Castro voted to increase the BPT, voted to tax you more for gas, and voted to create a sales tax— now he says taxes are bad,” the party said in a statement.

“He’s like the guy who starts the house fire and wants a medal for trying to put it out.”

The bill was passed with 10 ayes, 4 nays, and 1 excused absence.

Castro was one of four senators to vote against the bill.

Both bills are now heading to the governor for review.