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12 23Fri04182014

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Back Local News GovGuam health insurance rates up by 300%

GovGuam health insurance rates up by 300%

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Government of Guam active employees and retirees enrolled with Calvo’s SelectCare insurance will pay up to 300 percent more for their health and dental insurance starting Fiscal Year 2011 or by Oct. 1, prompting the Democratic gubernatorial team of former governor Carl T. C. Gutierrez and Senator Frank Aguon to intervene.

The move means GovGuam would pay $70.4 million for the health insurance of its employees—up by $20.1 million from $50.3 million.

The Gutierrez-Aguon team urged Paul Calvo, general manager of Calvo’s SelectCare Health Plans, to hold the rates in place.

SelectCare’s general manager is the brother of Republican gubernatorial candidate Sen. Eddie Baza Calvo leaving his supporters to speculate the Democratic team’s move was politically motivated.

When asked for comment, the Calvo-Tenorio camp responded, “The Gutierrez-Aguon questions can be better answered by the chairman of the legislative health committee, Sen. Frank Aguon, Jr., and to the GovGuam negotiating team, of which neither Senators Calvo nor Tenorio are a part.”

In their joint letter to SelectCare, the Democratic gubernatorial team wrote: “In less than seven days and with no valid explanation, these additional costs will place health insurance beyond the reach of many of our employees and their families. As leaders, this is reality we cannot accept. On behalf of our working people, we ask that you hold rates in their place and protect Guam’s families.”

Frank Campillo, Calvo’s Insurance health administrator, said it’s “unfortunate that the issue” is being muddled with politics.

“We are in receipt of a letter sent out by the Gutierrez-Aguon campaign in regards to the health insurance programs offered to the Government of Guam employees and retirees for FY2011, and it is unfortunate this issue is being used to misinform the people of Guam,” he said in a statement.

Every year, GovGuam selects a health insurance firm for its employees through a competitive bidding process.

SelectCare has been the winning bidder over the past three years.

Campillo said the increase in premiums is necessary to cover the anticipated losses and higher utilization of the health plans.

 

“It is also unfortunate that the Gutierrez-Aguon campaign chose to misrepresent the true amounts of the increases, which totaled far less than the amount claimed in the political letter,” said Campillo.

 The Gutierrez-Aguon team responded they are just concerned about the working people of Guam.

“Although this letter was not addressed to the Calvo-Tenorio campaign, Senator Calvo and Senator Tenorio have decided to join Calvo Enterprises in turning their backs on this issue and the concerns of working people. However, avoiding this issue does not make it disappear.  These exorbitant increases are hurting working families and their concerns should not be ignored. They deserve an answer,” the team said.

Campillo lashed back, “…these same individuals that have chosen to misinform the people of Guam about the

healthcare benefits offered to the Government of Guam are the very same people that have benefited by the great services offered by our company.”

As of last year, 7,344 GovGuam active employees and and 3,342 retirees are enrolled in the program.

Federal response

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote America's Health Insurance Plans, the national association of health insurers, calling on their members to stop using scare tactics and misinformation to falsely blame premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act, according to American Medical News.

Sebelius noted that the consumer protections and out-of-pocket savings provided for the Affordable Care Act should result in a minimal impact on premiums for most Americans.  Further, she reminded health plans that states have new resources under the Affordable Care Act to crack down on unjustified premium increases.

“I urge you to inform your members that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases,” Sebelius wrote in a Sept. 9 letter to Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive officer of America’s Health Insurance Plans.
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