Guam – Gov Guam’s health insurance contract negotiating team is beginning to review the proposals submitted for providing Gov Guam employees with health insurance, but there are still some questions looming as to how exactly to conduct the negotiations in light of a recent attorney general’s opinion.
Senator Ben Pangelinan who is a member of the Gov Guam negotiating team says they are supposed to meet this week however he’s not even sure if he can attend the meetings because of a recent attorney general’s opinion. The opinion was given at the request of department of administration acting director Benita Manglona. In the opinion the attorney general says that the procurement of the insurance contract is strictly an executive branch function and one that does not need the approval of the legislature. “I’m still concerned of the legislative role during the negotiation process I voted no on the bill that put the two legislative representatives as senators on that committee because of my concern of the separation of powers,” said Senator Pangelinan.
The senator is referring to the health insurance transparency act which requires that two legislative representatives sit on the negotiation team and requires legislative approval for the contract. Pangelinan says he agrees with requiring legislative approval but not necessarily with sitting on the negotiating team. “If we are active participants in the process of negotiations then we are performing an executive branch function and I’m concerned about that as I’ve always been with regards to the constitutional matters affecting separation of powers,” said Pangelinan.
As for legislative approval Pangelinan points to a previous supreme court ruling on the incinerator contract in which the supreme court determined that the entire contract was null and void because it was entered into without legislative appropriations to support or pay for the contract.
“I believe that not only can we appropriate the money but we can appropriate the money towards the terms and conditions and when we don’t appropriate the money towards the terms and conditions then the contract basically can’t be entered into and doesn’t become valid based upon that supreme court ruling,” explained Pangelinan.
The senator says that the team was scheduled to meet yesterday however he did not participate and does not plan on participating in the process because of his concerns with the separation of powers. The team is supposed to review the proposals and begin ranking them. Then the team will meet with the hay group consultants to further discuss and review the proposals before narrowing it down to their top pick. After they finalize their rankings they will begin negotiating with the top pick.
Acting Department of Administration Director Benita Manglona cannot confirm who has submitted proposals nor how many proposals have been submitted, however she does confirm that Gov Guam is in receipt of several proposals. She also could not confirm any of the time lines involved for example when they would begin actual negotiations. Manglona told PNC she needed to confer first with the Attorney General before releasing any more information.