Guam - In the midst of the Government of Guam's health insurance negotiations, TakeCare Insurance has filed a protest against the Department of Administration and the health insurance negotiating team. It's a protest they regret having to file, but in a letter to public sector staffers, TakeCare states it was compelled to do so as a consequence of what they allege are "discriminatory and chaotic actions" by DOA and the health insurance negotiating team.

"Clearly we're not happy with what's occurred," stressed TakeCare chief operating officer Jeffrey Larsen, telling KUAM News that the protest was filed because the procurement process was not followed and was handled by the government in an unusual way. "It definitely feels like there's been some de-selection and particularly action against TakeCare inappropriately, especially since the procurement rules are pretty clear and when you're invited to negotiate then uninvited it seems like something went wrong."

In its letter, TakeCare states that it was advised in writing that it was one of the top three bidders for the GovGuam health insurance contract. However, the following day was informed negotiations were instead cancelled and thereafter advised that it is proposal had been re-ranked and would not be allowed to negotiate any health insurance plan.

"So not having the island's second largest insurance at the negotiating table seems like its unfair and certainly we're qualified to be there," Larsen said.

DOA director and the negotiating team chairperson Benita Manglona did not want to comment on the matter, nor could she offer details as to how far in negotiations the team was at but instead would forward our requests to its legal counsel for proper s disposition.

Larsen says the negotiations should really be about transparency and getting the best possible deal in the interest of GovGuam employees. "So the negotiation should be clearly stated in what the RFP is, the procurement rules should be followed which in this case it was not the case and ultimately it should be fair," he said.

Committee on Health chairman Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. meanwhile says he is aware of the protest but could not offer any further comment. Rodriguez, an ex-officio member of the negotiating team, did however say he hopes the issue can be resolved soon especially as a contract must be in place by October 1. "It will be in the best interest of our people, of course," he stated. "If it's resolved soon, these things can as you know protest and if it heads into litigation can last very long and that won't be in the best interest of our people."

When asked whether information provided in the protest letter was meant to be confidential, Larsen says the RFP process should be confidential but states the information made public in the letter was disclosed to the company by DOA. TakeCare meanwhile has requested that the procurement be stayed and that no award of the GovGuam group health insurance contract be made until there's a resolution.

Of note is that TakeCare is no stranger to being in the headlines - Senator Rodriguez along with Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo has asked for investigations into the company's actions in paying its shareholders $15 million, despite $11 million in unpaid claims and not paying a single penny in rebates under the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, earlier this year the Board of Trustees for the Guam Memorial Hospital voted to terminate a direct payer agreement with the insurance company. That decision was based on the company's denial of coverage and its rate of paying GMH, which reportedly was at $0.50 on the dollar. After weeks of negotiations between GMH and TakeCare, the decision was rescinded.