Concerns persist for Guam officials about Obamacare - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Concerns persist for Guam officials about Obamacare

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Today marks the fourth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act just as March 31 deadline approaches for millions to sign up. But there's not much to celebrate here at home as many of the mandates don't apply to Guam.

Four years ago, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, however you won't hear much of a celebration here on Guam rather continued cries of concern. According to tax commissioner Art Illagan, in the Affordable Care Act commonly known as Obamacare, the definition of a state does not include Guam.

"But what it did is it amended the public health service act to include that one portion of the affordable care act which is the market reforms which are the benefits so all the benefits apply, we're not going to get the subsidies from the federal government, and we're not getting the mandates required so that everybody whose healthy and working should get insurance to reduce the rates so without the two revenue resources to make ACA work on Guam, the rates are going to go up," he said.

The US Department of Health and Human Services meanwhile says there are several reasons to celebrate, at least in the states, as five million people has already signed up through the health insurance marketplace.  Illagan says that's not entirely the case as he believes HHS doesn't have the numbers to make Obamacare work. "They were looking at the March 31 deadline to get seven million people insured in the United States I believe the document shows five million, they're short of it by two million."

Illagan says because of the many challenges with Obamacare, HHS has extended the date for mandates to take affect originally from 2013 to 2014 to now October 1, 2016. And with the March 31 deadline for those who are uninsured to sign up approaches, should we worry on Guam?

"No because the mandate for Guam residents is not there, the residents of Guam don't have to apply for insurance," he said.

As we reported, island leaders and health officials have shared their concerns through numerous roundtables, letters to HHS and even a legislative resolution. Illagan says with their support, he'll continue to follow the issue so that Guam is treated fairly. "I think we should be looking at the future and how this is going to affect the territories how we can insure the people of Guam the way everybody is being insured in the states," he said.

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