In a utopian world where GovGuam employees and retirees have an adequate income, Bill 30-35 would allow medical care at Guam Regional Medical City (GRMC). However, the reality of the situation is that many employees and retirees do not earn enough to afford an increase to their insurance premiums that Bill 30-35 would cause. With majority of employees making significantly less than their national counterparts do, the employees cannot afford this bill at this time. Despite a noble intent to allow current and retired employees to seek medical care at GRMC, GFT cautions that the average employee may decide to cancel their insurance due to cost increases. The costs at GRMC would cause insurance premiums to rise, which could be a deterrent for the common paid employees and retirees. Hence, GFT does not endorse Bill 30-35.

Over ten thousand employees had their increments frozen because the government balanced its budget on the backs of the employees. The priority should be lifting the freeze on increments and addressing the pay disparity among Guam employees and their national counterparts. More so, starting educators who work in a DoDEA school on Guam will start with $8,000 more than Guam Department of Education (GDOE). For consideration, if GFT President Sanjay Sharma had moved to DoDEA, he would be earning nearly $25,000 more a year. The pay disparity that employees face makes moving away from Guam more alluring. Bill 30-35 is a respectable idea if employees could afford its potential price tag. However, at the current pay rates of our employees, Bill 30-35 might make insurance premiums out of reach by many of our employees. Instead, let the insurance companies exercise their free market conditions. Let them compete to see if they can offer a premium plan that includes care at GRMC while still offering a plan that does not include GRMC on their own without Bill 30-35.

Bill 30-35 does not address the cash shortfall to Guam’s only public hospital. In fact, this bill could further take away revenue from Guam’s only public hospital. Instead of Bill 30-35, look to provide GMH with sufficient resources to compete properly with GRMC. Bill 30-35 would not be needed if GMH were given a lifeline in its budget.

In our ongoing effort to help improve the quality of life for working families and sharing some of the same concerns Bill 30-35 is intended to address, GFT provides an affordable opportunity for its members to receive life insurance, tax free retirement income, supplemental medical insurance and college fund benefits in addition to the existing benefits the government currently provides. GFT is happy to meet with Senators of the 35th Guam legislature upon request to discuss how these wonderful benefits can also be extended to all government employees in lieu of Bill 30-35.