As of Oct. 9, there have been 650 collection cases referred to the Office of the Attorney General since January 2019, when the AG, the Department of Revenue and Taxation, Guam Memorial Hospital and Department of Administration began a new initiative to collect obligations owed to the agencies.
Collection cases are referred to the AG after an individual or business fails to comply with good-faith efforts from an agency to inform and collect on outstanding debt. The AG issues a notice and the case is filed in court if there continues to be no payment made.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, GMH referred the most cases to the AG, at 586. Of those cases, 186 were resolved, meaning payment was made, partially made or a payment plan was established prior to having to get the court involved. This amounted to $427,999.32, according to AG spokeswoman Carlina Charfauros.
GMH's payer mix consists mainly of the 3Ms - Medicaid, Medicare and patients covered under the Medical Indigent Program – patient services billed to health insurance companies, and self-pay patients.
Self-pay patients just barely fall below the 3Ms to make up the least-collected payer group, with the hospital collecting 41 cents for every $1 billed, according the fiscal year 2019 audit of GMH. However, the audit stated that the hospital authority's relationship with the AG for collections and Rev and Tax for garnishments resulted in self-pay accounts increasing by $7.3 million in fiscal 2019.
Thirty-one cases referred by GMH were filed in court and await resolution while the remaining cases are pending action.
DOA had 56 cases referred to the AG, out of which five cases were resolved for an amount of $863. Twelve cases were filed in court and the others are pending action.
Rev and Tax had the least number of referrals, just eight since the beginning of 2019, but had four cases resolved amounting to $434,778.78. The other four were filed in court, Charfauros said.
'A last resort'
Rev and Tax Director Dafne Mansapit-Shimizu recounted the work they've undertaken with the AG during a meeting of the Rotary Club of Tumon Bay on Tuesday. They had been referring cases for injunction due to outstanding taxes, she added.
"We actually began to work with the AG collaboratively to stop businesses from doing business when they owe a significant amount of taxes," Mansapit-Shimizu said.
Charfauros said the AG has been continuing to file court cases throughout the COVID-19 pandemic but only cases that would have been barred due to exceeding the statute of limitations, and that was only an issue with GMH referrals.
"What is owed to the government should be paid out. It's a last resort effort for us to file in court, but we will and we have," Charfauros added.