The way a local public health official described it recently, she didn't expect any problems to occur when the government of Guam's funding for private health insurance for more than 200 children in the foster care program soon runs out.

This budget year, which ends in September, $549,000 had been budgeted to pay for the foster children's health insurance under Calvo's SelectCare. That money is expected to run out at the end of this month.

When that happens, the foster children will simply be covered by another health insurance plan, this time under the federally funded Children's Health Insurance Program, commonly referred to as CHIP.

"They're not going to run out of insurance because they have CHIP," Tess Arcangel, administrator of the Department of Public Health and Social Services' Division of Public Welfare, said in an interview with The Guam Daily Post. Arcangel later continued, "There is a lot of money in the CHIP program that we're not utilizing because we're spending to this private insurance."

It turns out the transition might not be as easy as it first appeared.

The federally funded CHIP is being run on Guam as part of Medicaid.

Not all pediatricians and other doctors on Guam accept Medicaid patients, because of the delay between the time doctors provide services to patients and the payments from GovGuam. Medicaid payments to doctors have taken months in some cases.

Many who have visited doctors' offices have seen a familiar sign by a clinic or doctor's office door: "Medicaid is not accepted."

GovGuam has just a little more than a week remaining to get this sorted out.

Local officials should find a way to ensure that foster children's health insurance continues, and that any solution at the end of the month will not deprive these children of medical care when they need it.

GovGuam has become really creative and has moved briskly when it came to allowing gambling money to be raised at the Liberation carnival, approving legislation for a recreational marijuana industry, approving public officials' raises, and signing off on government-funded travel and per diem costs.

This time, we'll see if the same bureaucratic wheels of urgency will be set in motion for the children in foster care.

Recommended for you