AGO hoped senators would hold-off on Bill 513 - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

AGO hoped senators would hold-off on Bill 513

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - While Adelup decides on what action it will take on Bill 513 that was discussed and passed in rapid fashion the Attorney General's Office has warned that in their haste, many questions remain unanswered.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Phil Tydingco expressed a number of concerns in a letter addressed to Senator Ben Pangelinan and his colleagues. Bill 513 purports to reduce health insurance costs and give government employees and retirees options to choose their health insurance coverage. While the AG's Office had hoped to ask lawmakers to delay a decision on the bill for several weeks to allow for more review, the bill passed straight down party lines, 9-6.

"A bill of this magnitude, I've never seen, this move as quick as it has", said Minority Leader Frank Blas, Jr., noting that he and his Republican colleagues had many questions about the impacts of the bill and what it would mean for GovGuam employees and retirees. "There were a number of questions that were still unanswered and were left unanswered because of the speed and the expediency that the author and chairman wanted to go through with this bill."

For instance Blas wanted to know why the legislation was only specific to Fiscal Year 2013 but made no mention of future years. "The questions continued to be ignored with regard to what is the necessity for the rush of this?"

The author or the bill, Senator Ben Pangelinan is currently off island. Co sponsor, Speaker Judi Won Pat, did not return calls for comment and other democrat lawmakers referred us to the bill's author for comment on the reason for rushing the bill.

Governor's communication director Troy Torres has an idea why: "It's election season!"

Torres confirms the governor has asked the lieutenant governor to conduct the review of the bill but Adelup does find the legislation perplexing considering Senator Pangelinan, in the 27th Guam Legislature, authored a law that appropriated $150,000 for a study that was conducted by Lewis and Ellis. It revealed that having one provider for the pool of GovGuam employees and retirees would be the most cost effective. He said, "Obviously there was a rush job. It was legislation that was shoddy and leaves a lot to the imagination."

Tydingco expressed concerns that Bill 513 may not be able to be legally implemented since there is a pending procurement stay and an appeal for the procurement of health insurance for Fiscal Year 2013. 

As we reported Takecare, Selectcare and Staywell filed protests. It was revealed that two offerors were allowed to amend their proposals during the evaluation stage. The government in response cancelled the bid but on September 19th Calvo's Selectcare filed an appeal with the Office of Public Accountability.  Health plan administrator Frank Campillo noting that it is unfair to cancel the entire bid when two offerors submitted timely proposals that were in conformance with the RFP.

Even if the bill was signed into law and the parties who protested were to prevail on their appeal, the AG's Office isn't sure whether the government would then be required to procure health insurance under the language contained in Bill 513 or under the procurement law and rules that existed before the legislation becomes law. Tydingco also wants clarification on the role of the chief procurement officer and quorum of the negotiation team as well as the removal of the AG as legal advisor.

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