GOV. Eddie Calvo minced no words in his veto message for Bill 81-32. The bill was introduced by Sen. Ben Pangelinan and pertained to the procurement of health insurance for government of Guam employees and retirees for fiscal year 2014.
“Bill 81 is fiscally irresponsible,” Calvo wrote in his veto message. “It is mathematically and actuarially impossible. It abandons a proven process for the solicitation and negotiation of the best health insurance plan for the government. It introduces an unacceptable level of uncertainty in the procurement of health insurance for the government of Guam. This administration will not enact legislation that increases the uncertainty and the cost of necessities on our man'åmko' and on our hardworking employees.”
In a statement, Pangelinan had said that under the bill, bidders would offer standard benefits while price, service and the network of providers would vary. The bill would have set a cap on premiums lower than current premiums, with only qualified bidders licensed to do business on Guam eligible to submit a bid. In addition, under the bill, any eligible bidder whose bid is lower than the premium cap of $68 million would be automatically accepted as a health insurance provider. The bill would have allowed employees and retirees to receive money for use in health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts to help alleviate the deductibles in the current plan, Pangelinan said.
“How many times must the government tamper with the procurement process before expensive lessons are learned from the politics surrounding the annual health insurance provisions?” Calvo wrote in his three-page letter.
Calvo disputed the claims Pangelinan made about the benefits of the bill. “All of the data and professional hypotheses by independent third parties (including those commissioned by the author himself) tell this government that meddlesome and political legislation like Bill No. 81 will end up costing government of Guam employees and the taxpayers of Guam even more money.”
The current health insurance process already allows for multiple insurance carriers if the costs are reduced. “There is no common-sense reason for passage of this bill,” the governor wrote.
The bill passed 9-4 on April 22. Sen. Chris Duenas and Sen. Tommy Morrison were absent. Sens. Tony Ada, Mike Limtiaco, Brant McReadie and Dennis Rodriguez Jr. voted against the bill. It was vetoed on May 2.