GMH revenue stream collected through fees - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GMH revenue stream collected through fees

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - A bill aimed at helping pay off the Guam Memorial Hospital's multimillion dollar debt has been re-introduced, this time involving electronic gaming devices - the same devices the Attorney General's Office considers illegal under Guam law.  Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. has found an alternative revenue source for the GMHA Healthcare Trust and Development Act of 2013.

The senator told KUAM News, "The major changes is the funding source to allow the hospital to go out get a loan or revolving line of credit pay down the debt which is an over 18 million dollar debt that's payable to our vendors."

Rodriguez referred Bill 20 back to his committee to make changes after the original proposal of a 4% fee assessed on premiums collected by health insurance companies on Guam received negative pushback. "We looked at what rev and tax and the government has recently issued licenses for gaming devices, and so we're going after those revenue in terms of taxes, GRT, income tax and also licensing fees, and if you look at the substituted version, we've adjusted the licensing fees and also imposed a special 4 percent assessment," he said.

These include electronic gaming devices registered with DRT such as Liberty, Symbolix and Matchplay - all of which have come under fire from the Attorney General's Office which instead considers them gambling devices and against the law. "These licenses shouldn't be issued because the particular machines in our view are illegal gambling devices," explained AG Leonardo Rapadas, who adds he supports the bill's intent but believes the provision is not a viable or appropriate revenue source.

"I hate to use this analogy and I don't intend any insult but it's like using a revenue stream from illegal drugs or illegal firearm, it just doesn't work. We can't do that," he said.

Rodriguez thinks otherwise saying he would not have reintroduced the measure as substituted if he didn't think it was a good option. "So all we're saying now is that now that the government has issued these licenses, we want to ensure we capture it and give that money to the hospital," he said.

Rodriguez says he anticipates the revenue stream for the substituted version to be between $4 million to $5 million - less than the original $8.5 million proposal. The bill meanwhile would still establish an outpatient urgent care center. Rodriguez adds in the past five months, since the bill was introduced, no other alternative has been put on the table to help GMH pay off its debt. 

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