GEDA board approves QC...with conditions - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GEDA board approves QC...with conditions

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - After months of analysis and review, a decision has been made. Set for completion by late next summer, the Guam Regional Medical City was granted its qualifying certificate request resulting in millions in tax incentives.

It was crowded more than usual as the Guam Economic Development Authority's board of directors meeting today and all for good reason as the Guam Regional Medical City's qualifying certificate request was finally on the agenda. GEDA's credit review committee led by Christina Garcia gave its recommendation for approval saying Guamanians simply need GRMC's services.

"What we found was in our analysis are that a number of residents are traveling off island," she said. "A lot of those are because a lot these basic services cardiology, oncology and endocrinology are services that are not readily available on Guam."

The request calls for the corporate income tax rebate at 20 years at 75%, corporate dividend tax rebate up to 5 years at 75% and the real property tax abatement for 10 years at 100%.  She adds the abated tax revenue will pay for people who can't afford medical care. "Through our negotiations and discussions GRMC has come to the table and have agreed that they must provide care to everyone who walks through their doors no matter their ability to pay."

She says the QC meanwhile doesn't just help the people but the island itself as it increases Guam's credibility as GRMC's application speaks to everything the QC program was intended to accomplish. She adds over 20 years, they're looking at $170 million abatement compared to the projected $420 million in new tax revenue to GovGuam.

GRMC president CEO Margaret Bengzon meanwhile gave her last plea saying Guam's health care market hasn't been robust compared to U.S. and world averages. "So what this tells us is there's a lot of opportunity for growth in the Guam healthcare market," she explained.

Every year she estimates 15,000 people and $65 million leaves the island for healthcare. She says the new hospital will bring in 130 new beds and hundreds of more jobs and with the QC it will help GRMC's mission to do both well and good in Guam.

The biggest concern meanwhile from the board was the community contribution the hospital would provide. Board members like David John wanted to stick with a simplified formula for the contributions with dollar amounts opposed to percentages adding this QC is much different than others. "This QC is also about jobs, but it's also about keeping dollars on island that would have flown out and most importantly it's about quality of care for the community," he said.

The board unanimously approved the QC request subject to the changes on the community contribution to set dollar amount leaving out the percentage allocations.

This means the new hospital will do an annual contribution for that in year one it will be $500,000 contribution, in year two it will be $750,000, from year 3 to 5 it will be $1 million, year 6 to 10 it will $1.2 million, year 11 to 20 it will $1.4 million. Those contributions will be brought to the board annually as to the use, between health care to include Medicaid match and MIP payment, economic development and higher education and cultural preservation.

Immediately following the meeting, Bengzon was pleased, saying, "Obviously very gratified and relieved somewhat that we can get past this now and get to the important work of getting this hospital built, running and serving the people of Guam."

The QC application will now be forwarded to the Attorney General's Office for review and approval after which it will be sent to the Governor's Office for final consideration and action.

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