Dr. Robert Underwood, in a news conference Wednesday afternoon, presented his plans to address education and healthcare in Guam.
Underwood said COVID-19 rearranged our education and our lives in the home. The pandemic also exposed serious weaknesses on the healthcare side, not only in Guam’s healthcare system but also in how we respond to the kind of crisis that we are in.
With this in mind, Underwood outlined some of the key points of his platform:
- To provide 21st-century tools for every child to include tablets, ebooks, and internet service;
- Amend IRS code to provide a greater tax deduction for expenses for teachers;
- Provide supplemental funding for local schools, to include technology upgrades and critical capital improvement upgrades;
- Eliminate the Medicaid cap for Guam to provide parity in healthcare funding, especially given the increasing need during COVID-19 and the drastic reduction in household incomes to afford healthcare;
- Increase subsidies to help low-income individuals purchase prescription drugs, and;
- Fight for funding to adequately provide for the construction of a new public hospital, expansion of local community health centers, and continued capital improvement and maintenance of these facilities.
“This platform is about a federal partnership. It is not about running a Government of Guam agency. It is about trying to figure out how collectively — GovGuam agencies, the private sector, the healthcare providers educational providers, including not just the public institutions of GDOE and GCC, and UOG but also private schools and charter schools — can work with their Delegate to make sure that their agenda and their concerns are met in the coming congressional term,” Underwood said.
In terms of finding solutions to the renovation of the aging public hospital, Underwood said: “The way that gets off the ground is to have active consideration of federal resources. I don’t think we had that opportunity..and I think it is trying to see the entirety of it … there have to be other opportunities associated with it.”
Underwood said he believes that all the items in his platform are achievable with forceful advocacy and with strong collaboration with local leaders and experts.