Senators pass Bill 513 - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Senators pass Bill 513

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Nearly a week since first holding a public hearing on a measure that would change how the Government of Guam would procure health insurance, lawmakers headed into session this morning to act on Bill 513. It's considered an immediate solution to reduce the employee and retiree rates for health insurance in Fiscal Year 2013 without compromising coverage benefits-that's according to the bill's author Senator Ben Pangelinan who says Bill 513 also addresses how GovGuam pays out more cash than we need to every year for the cost of health insurance.

"This bill will stop the cash bleed you might want to say of overpaying for health insurance by bringing the premium in line with the actual claims data experienced inclusive of the 15 percent retention for the health insurance companies to make their profits and pay their administration expenses," he said.

It was last week when Calvo's Selectcare and the Department of Administration testified against the measure whereas other health insurance companies testified in support but recommended several changes. The RFP for the FY2013 health insurance contract has since been scrapped due to problems with the negotiation process in which DOA is currently working on an entirely new RFP.

Minority Leader Frank Blas Jr. was against the passage of Bill 513 saying he believed it isn't wise to step into bounds and change the process while one is still ongoing. "You don't change the rules of the game in the middle of the game. You don't go into the fourth quarter of a tackle football game and then in the fourth quarter say we're going to now change it to flag football," he said.

The bill was con-sponsored by all nine Democrats and Republicans Aline Yamashita and Sam Mabini. The minority members however had a change of heart this morning removing their names from the bill.  Yamashita says she understands the urgency and rush in addressing this health insurance matter as today marked the 20th death anniversary of her father.

"I do not believe that Bill 513 is going to address the concerns that are around all of us, I do not believe that we need to get on an airplane to get the attention that we need so we can live a little longer," she said.

Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz meanwhile rose in support saying the process has been held off long enough. He further wants answers from the administration including how it intends to address reasons behind why health insurance premiums are so high on Guam.

After reconvening this afternoon, Bill 513 was passed down party lines with a vote of 9-6.

We should note Senator Chris Duenas attempted to have his bucks for busses bill heard on session floor today. He had objected to adjourning, but was ruled out of order. He tells KUAM News he's extremely disappointed and feels it was a missed opportunity to confront the bussing issue and demonstrate leadership. His bucks for busses would have immediately repealed senatorial pay raises and augment funding at DPW school bus operations.

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