DOA: Leg. should've known about insurance contract - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DOA: Leg. should've known about insurance contract

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - In the midst of today's budget battle, the Department of Administration dropped a bombshell, saying the Guam Legislature knew or should have known the rates involving GovGuam's health insurance contract were going to be higher than usual, considering the negotiation team sought their advice prior to singing the contract.

It was during today's oversight hearing over DOA that the issue of the Government of Guam's health insurance contract was brought up. Senator Ben Pangelinan has repeatedly accused the Calvo Administration of hoarding GovGuam's coffers to pay for the unbudgeted health insurance rate increases instead of paying tax refunds and paying for government pay raises under the Hay Study.

Today DOA's Lenora Candaso, who was a member of the negotiation team, said the Legislature was well aware that the rates were going to go up even before the current fiscal year's budget was passed. Candaso says it was the director of the Office of Finance & Budget, Chris Budasi, which falls under Senator Pangelinan's purview, that back in July gave the negotiation team the approval to move forward.

Pangelinan asked, "Who gave you the green light?" Candaso said, "When our consultants and our team explained to Mr. Budasi what was happening with the rates he of course was, he was surprised at the rates I said this is something we didn't project for but go ahead we're going to have to look for the money and those again I'm not doing a direct quote but this was a year ago. But we were pretty much under the impression the team that was there along with our consultants and that's why we proceeded with negotiations."

The senator then said, "I'm sorry, I don't want to call you as speaking untruths, Mr. Budasi consulted with me afterwards and he was asked and he appeared before you guys and you told him and you didn't tell him what the rates were you told him what they were looking at and he in no way told you go ahead we will find the money. I don't believe that that was the position of the Office of Finance & Budget or the Legislature for that matter." Candaso said, "Senator, if you will the reason why we called him in is that the recommendation of the legislative representative at the time so he was actually the one who recommended to bring him in because of the concern for the rates, so the team along with your legislative representative we would not have proceeded with negotiations if we thought otherwise. And that is the reason why we proceeded with negotiations."

Senator Pangelinan continued to defend Budasi, but Candaso said there were several others who were in the meeting and they all walked out with the same impression. She added the negotiations ended and the contract was signed in July before the Fisacal Year 2011 budget was passed in August.

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