Judiciary chooses to pick own health insurer - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Judiciary chooses to pick own health insurer

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - The Judiciary of Guam isn't participating in the Government of Guam's group health plan. They've instead opted to choose their own health insurance carrier - the potential problem with that - their excluding their retirees.

The Judiciary has decided to go it on their own, opting not to participate in GovGuam's group health plan. They've entered into a contract with Takecare Insurance. Court policy, planning and communications director Josh Tenorio says management made the proposal to the Judicial Council in December of last year in an effort to provide lower deductibles for their employees.

"We cancelled the December request for proposal because we subsequently learned that the Government of Guam group health insurance contract was rolled over for the entire fiscal year so we engaged in a dual track. We did have a representative participating in the Government of Guam's employees health insurance and then a separate team went out and managed a separate request for health insurance proposals that we pushed out since June," he said.

Tenorio adds the Judiciary is the first branch to opt out but the law allows the Legislature to do the same.  He adds the Guam Visitors Bureau and GEDA - both of which are autonomous agencies in the past had opted to get their own coverage as well. The new plan for the Judiciary does not cover judicial retirees as Tenorio says all retirees are the responsibility of the Retirement Fund.

Retirement Fund board chair Joe T. San Agustin said, "The retirees have to be covered and if the Legislature failed to include that that will be a change from the usual practice of every agency paying for it. If the Judiciary is going to get away it, then I'm sure GPA, airport authority and everybody else is going to say, hey what about us and then who's going to pay for it, the retirement fund is definitely not going to pay for it."

Adelup in the meantime says although the law may authorize the Legislature and the Judiciary to procure its own health insurance. They don't believe it means the Judiciary can exclude covering retirees.   Governor's communications director Troy Torres said, "So when you don't include retires the risk pool it becomes better for the insurance company right and so they were able to offer better rates for active employees. In for the governor and lt. governor and the administration its important that we cover the retirees. We can't let feed them to the sharks just because they have medical issues they're the people who need the medical attention and insurance when they have medical issues. We can't just say we're going to leave our retires out and its going to be up to them with the Retirement Fund."

The Department of Administration in the meantime has sent a letter to the Judiciary applauding them for negotiating lower rates for its employees. However believe their actions to exclude retirees in the contract is in contravention to local law which mandates they be covered.  DOE further requests the judiciary to notify DOE how they plan to remedy the issue.

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