Guam reacts to the President's Health Care plan
President Barack Obama made his pitch to Congress this morning as his administration attempts to implement comprehensive health care reform in America. "The time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action," said President Obama. He addressed a joint session of Congress this morning on his top legislative priority, health care reform. "We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick," he announced.
While the President and other members of Congress have been conducting two hall meetings all over the country, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, in a letter to senator Frank Blas, Jr. said, "Once information has been finalized, this information will be shared with local leaders." The Healthcare Reform Plan would have an impact across the nation and even here in the territories.
A government funded and run healthcare option similar to Medicare would have people pay premiums of 10-20% less than for private insurance. Calvo's SelectCare health plan administrator Frank Campillo explained, telling KUAM News, "Any public option will impact private insurance companies doing business in America, no matter how it is said, no matter how it is presented."
But the President defended the public option, saying, "Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. They provide a legitimate service, and employ a lot of our friends and neighbors. I just want to hold them accountable."
Guam physician Dr. Thomas Shieh said, "It's definitely going to affect them because it's real difficult to be competing with the government, if the government has a plan that is 25% cheaper, then certainly I think a lot of people will flock to the public plan." The OB/GYN noted the only drawback with the public plan is whether local physicians will accept it. Shieh admits he may take those under the public plan, but they would be limited because the reimbursement rate is significantly low.
He said, "If the private insurances go out of business, for example, Calvo, Staywell, NetCare, if those insurance companies go out of business, then certainly it will impact a lot of the private clinics because we depend a lot on the private insurances."
With all considerations given to this health care reform plan, what's also important to keep in mind is that Guam only has one civilian hospital, which means that federal funding to the territory cannot be cut or it would significantly impact to the hospital's ability to provide even basic services to the people of Guam.