Thursday, 05 January 2017

Speaker Cruz calls Adelup "grossly misinformed" about health insurance providers

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Speaker B.J. Cruz and Governor's Spokesperson Oyaol Ngirairikl exchange heated words over Bill 3-34. 

Guam - Is the difference between switching your health insurance providers a matter of life and death? Adelup seems to think so.  In response to Speaker B.J. Cruz’s Bill 3, which aims to ensure GovGuam chooses the most affordable health insurance option, the Governor’s Spokesperson, Oyaol Ngirairikl suggest the savings isn’t worth it.

In his first piece of legislation for the 34th Guam Legislature, Speaker Cruz is already finding himself at odds with Adelup, saying he wants to fight against their "multi-million dollar mistakes.” He introduced Bill 3-34 yesterday which will amend current law to remove language that would give the administration the ability to choose between a non-exclusive health insurance contract and an exclusive one.

This, Speaker Cruz emphasizes, will ensure that GovGuam goes with the most economical choice. But the Governor's Spokesperson Oyaol Ngirairikl isn't convinced.

“Oh my God, when (then) Vice Speaker Cruz came out with a bill in 2012 to move from a single carrier to multiple carriers, the Governor expressed concerns about that.... and value healthcare doesn't always equate to the cheapest," she said.

Meanwhile, Speaker Cruz strongly disagreed.

"She is grossly misinformed because there is no difference in the plans. They all have to provide the same thing…please have everybody understand it's not cheap, that there is no cheap. It's all the services provided have to be the same otherwise, you won't make it to one of the three (choices),” he added. 

Speaker Cruz went on to say there is no gold and silver plan, but rather each plan is required by law to list all the basic needs. Everybody he says has to provide the same medical attention all across the board. Adding, that he thought the Governor would naturally choose the most economical plan, but that's not what he believes happened.

“Choose the one that is going to cost you the least, not the cheapest, but the most economical. If you go with one it will cost you less; if you go with another, it will cost you $20 million more. Who in their right mind would choose the one that's $20 million more?” he puzzled.

Admittedly, Speaker Cruz shared that they initially opted for quality in the beginning, but Cruz later admitted that it was something the government couldn't afford. Ngirairikl says that in 2012, the late Senator Pangelinan and then Vice Speaker Cruz proposed Bill 435, which she says prized quality over savings.

“If the question is can we afford this? Then the answer is yes. We've been paying for it --for nonexclusive contracts for the last four or five years now and that has been to the betterment of, ya know, GovGuam employees, retirees, and all their families. They appreciate these. Why? Because it's a quality of life issue,” she said.

Ngirairikl even said that switching to a different health insurance could be "a matter of life and death” saying “of course we wanna save money, but save money at what cost?"

“They’re so misinformed because the one RFP that goes out lists everything that all the healthcare plans have to include,” Cruz contended.


Speaker Cruz stressed that each health insurance provider bidding in the RFP has to have the same amount of coverage; even noting that in the past, when one or two providers did not meet the basic standards, they did not make it to the top three health insurance providers. 

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