San Nicolas Concerned GMH Public-Private Partnership Could Be More Costly

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Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr., however, notes that his recently passed bill will only explore the option.

Guam – Should we enter into a public private partnership for the Guam Memorial Hospital? Senator Michael San Nicolas thinks the bill looking into this possibility is not necessary and could end up being hurtful rather than helpful. But the bill’s sponsor, Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr., says it doesn’t hurt to try.

Bill 277 was passed by the Guam Legislature over the weekend with most senators voting in favor of the measure, and only four voting against it. One of those senators is Michael San Nicolas.

The bill directs the Guam Economic Development Authority to put out a Request for Information or RFI to gauge the potential interest in creating a public-private partnership for the Guam Memorial Hospital. Senator Dennis Rodriguez authored the measure.

“This is very good for Guam because it’s free research that we’re able to take and use for our advantage,” says Senator Rodriguez. 

Senator San Nicolas: “We’re basically going to be asking anybody out there what their thoughts are on how to go about in addressing the hospital’s needs and so these private entities can come back and tell us exactly what their plans are, how they would go about doing it and then I’m worried that that will then in turn result in us structuring an RFP based on that information that would be specifically tailored to those very same companies.”

Senator Michael San Nicolas says an RFI could end up hurting us in the end.

“We’re not supposed to be tailoring our RFPs to benefit, in advance, a specific company. Our RFPs are supposed to actually receive responses from companies that are giving us their offer at their best price based on our needs, but if we’re tailoring it for a company, we’re basically setting them up to win it,” explains San Nicolas.

“I think it’s paranoia,” Senator Rodriguez says in reaction to Senator San Nicolas’ statement. “When you do this, this is out in public, this is open. This is as transparent as you could be.”

“If we ever do an RFP, this is, we can be well-equipped with information that’s out there and how we can craft it to be very beneficial for our hospital in this case,” he adds.

But in addition to a tailor-made RFP, Senator San Nicolas says he concerned that a private entity would only take over the revenue generating divisions within the hospital and leave the rest to the taxpayers of Guam.

“I think partial privatization of GMH would be even more burdensome because only the profit centers will get privatized and we’ll be left with all the costs centers. So under the current situation those profit centers are offsetting some of the costs. If we privatize some of those away, we’re being left with 100 percent of the costs rather than 80 or 90 percent of the cost,” San Nicolas points out.

Again, Rodriguez says he disagrees with San Nicolas’ point of view. “If companies come and say we wanna take over the labor and delivery, we wanna take over radiology–these are the revenue generating–then we get, now as a government, as a people … of course that would just give us information, then this is not the direction. We gotta look at a different type, or different concept.”

“I’m concerned that this RFI process is really a backdoor way for us to begin selling off the profitable parts of the hospital to specific vendors that are going to have tailor made RFPs for them,” San Nicolas says.

“We may or may not [go forward with an RFP]. That’s what I’ve said … is that this is a tool that’s gonna be used for us as policy makers, for the people of Guam, to also see because one possible result is nobody, nobody provides anything to us,” Rodriguez points out.