GMH chief looks to lawmakers to pay Customs fee - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GMH chief looks to lawmakers to pay Customs fee

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - With ailing financial health, the Guam Memorial Hospital is looking at ways to inject revenue.

Could a Customs fee be implemented at GMH? That is what the hospital's administrator Joseph Verga is suggesting in order to help resuscitate their flatlining finances.  "We have the hospital needs a sustainable source of revenue and I proposed creating an Uncompensated Care Trust Fund and everyone talks about where are we going to get the money from and I proposed a users Customs fee which would not burden the tax payers of the island," he said.

He says that the Customs fee could bring in an upwards of $20 million a year which can then match Medicare and bring an upwards of $40 million for the hospital - that money would then go into the trust fund for GMH. However he says in order for this to happen there has to be the political will to do so. In light of a recent OPA audit the hospital's finances were the subject of a heated legislative session earlier this week where a couple island senators where reluctant to direct another penny into the hospital to which Verga stated the audit was nothing surprising and only validated that the hospital has long standing financial issues. When Verga first assumed leadership of the hospital he had introduced his five-point strategic plan to get the hospital back on track number one on the list was achieving financial stability and according to Verga they presented a score card of the strategic plan to the board in may where they graded every individual item and reassessed all the steps to get there.

He said, "That area achieving financial stability did not score very high and clearly however all of those initiatives that you mentioned started out at zero. Where those initiatives were graded 3.5 to 4 on a scale of 0 to 10 and they were graded by all of our leaders internally."

Verga says they clearly have work to do and have noted many internal initiatives to improve the finances.  He adds the absence of many issues cited in previous audits are testament that the hospital has made corrections.  While in the recent OPA audit the strategic plan did not score high Verga says they needed to develop a baseline against moving forward.

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