Terlaje bill aims to correct findings in audit critical of Guam Cancer Trust Fund

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The Guam Cancer Trust Fund was intended to provide direct service and assistance to patients with cancer.

Senator Therese Terlaje has introduced a bill to ensure that Guam  Cancer Trust Fund revenues are used primarily for patient care, cancer screening, and direct services for patients.

Sen. Terlaje is the chair of the legislative committee on health. She introduced Bill 261-35  following an audit released last month by the Guam Office of Public Accountability that was critical of the Guam Cancer Trust Fund.

In his audit, Public Auditor Benjamin J.F. Cruz wrote that “the Guam Cancer Trust Fund was intended to provide direct service and assistance to patients with cancer. It was not intended to provide employment to healthy able-bodied individuals.”

“We must all work to assure that we realize the primary intent of this Trust Fund,” concluded the OPA.

Among the issues identified by that audit were:

*Lapses and inefficiencies in the management of GCTF revenues;

*Apparent violations or flaws on GCTF payouts; and

*Deficiencies in grant processes and compliance of terms of grants.

In a release, Sen. Terlaje states that Bill 261 ” will ensure patient’s needs are met and prohibit the misuse or diversion of funds that were always intended to directly benefit our cancer patients and their families..”

The senator says her measure “more clearly outlines the responsibilities of the University of Guam in managing and investing of the Guam Cancer Trust Fund and creates a Cancer Trust Fund Council comprised of cancer care experts to review and award grants to nonprofits for direct services to cancer patients.”

The Guam Cancer Trust Fund is funded every year by 15 percent of the annual Healthy Futures Fund revenue, derived from alcohol and tobacco taxes.
The Guam Cancer Trust Fund law allows UOG, in consultation with the Guam Cancer Care Council, to issue grants to nonprofit organizations.
The recent OPA audit was critical of the management of the fund by UOG and expenditures of Guam Cancer Trust Fund grants by nonprofits, including questionable personnel costs instead of direct cancer care.
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