Speaker introduces arbitration fund bill

Speaker Tina Muna Barnes (Guam Legislature photo)

Speaker Tina Muna Barnes has introduced Bill 248-35, which seeks to create a fund that will be used to help pay for the cost of medical arbitration.

Over the last few weeks, Barnes said her office has been looking at medical arbitration laws around the country.

“Through the National Council of State Legislatures, I discovered that national estimates of medical liability system costs — including settlements, legal and administrative costs and defensive medicine — range from $55.6 billion annually to $200 billion annually,” the Speaker said.

This, Barnes said, makes mandatory arbitration, as it stands today, ineffective, inefficient and inaccessible to many in the community.

Bill 248-35 will make arbitration more accessible by creating an arbitration fund that will be used solely to provide financial assistance to petitioners who are unable to afford the cost of medical arbitration filing fees.

The fund will be initially supported by $100,000 from FY 2019 unexpended funds and will be matched and supplemented by funds from Guam’s healthcare providers.

Under the bill, heathcare providers would pay $150 into the fund, and nurses would pay $50 to be collected by the Guam Board of Medical Examiners.