The St Petersburg (FL) Times reported on the total compensation of local hospital executives:
While many workers in the Tampa Bay area have had their wages frozen or reduced in the past few years, life has been kinder to chief executives at nonprofit hospitals in the Tampa Bay area.
A bright light in a dim economy, most local tax-exempt hospitals have continued to post surpluses, despite losses on investments and the growing number of uninsured. And the executives at the helms of these organizations have been duly rewarded by their community-based boards, according to the federal tax filings required of such organizations. In fact, average compensation at tax-exempt hospitals here is well above the national average.
Members of the millionaire men's club include:
• Isaac Mallah, chief executive of St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, who received total compensation of $2.2 million in 2008, the most recent year available.
• Mallah's boss, Steve Mason, who heads BayCare Health System, toted up total compensation of more than $1.7 million.
• Tampa General Hospital's chief executive, Ron Hytoff, also earned more than $1.7 million.
• At All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Gary Carnes' pay package was about $1.2 million. Across the street at Bayfront Medical Center, Sue Brody, the only female chief executive of a freestanding nonprofit hospital in the area, was paid $744,149.
• Dr. William Dalton, president and chief executive of Tampa's H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, received just over $1 million in total compensation in 2008. But it could have been higher. In both 2008 and 2009, Moffitt's board eliminated bonuses for all managers because of tough economic conditions.
Average compensation for chief executives at 14 nonprofit hospitals in the Tampa Bay area was about $876,000. Meanwhile, according to an IRS survey of more than 500 nonprofit hospitals last year, the national average was $490,000.
How were these generous amounts of compensation justified?
BayCare's Mason said he won't apologize for what he's paid to lead the seven-hospital system, which had more than $2 billion in revenue in 2008.
'I have significant responsibility over a lot of resources, providing a service that improves the health of the community,' said Mason, who joined BayCare in 2004. 'This is what it would cost our board to replace me.'
Officials at area hospitals say their boards adhere 'meticulously' to IRS rules, hiring independent consultants every year to ensure their chief executives' salaries are comparable to pay at similarly sized nonprofit institutions. Mason said BayCare's board tries to ensure that its total compensation stays at about 75 percent of the maximum paid.
The Charlotte Business Journal noted:
Carolinas HealthCare paid Chief Executive Michael Tarwater $3.4 million in 2009, down from $3.5 million a year earlier. His 2009 compensation includes a base salary $950,697 and bonuses of $1.87 million.
Paul Wiles, chief executive at Winston-Salem-based Novant, earned total compensation of a little more than $2 million in 2009, roughly the same as in 2008. His base salary last year was $900,000, and he was paid a bonus of $827,462. Novant estimates Wiles received $339,000 in other compensation, including benefits and deferred compensation.
Carolinas HealthCare released compensation information for these other top executives:
•Joseph Piemont, president and chief operating officer, $1,731,581.
•Greg Gombar, chief financial officer and executive vice president, $1,526,254.
•Paul Franz, executive vice president of the physician services group, $1,399,528.
•Dennis Phillips, executive vice president of the Metro Group, $1,084,859.
•David Dunlap, president and chief executive of Roper St. Francis Healthcare, $1,043,078.
•Laurence Hinsdale, executive vice president, regional group, $1,041,586.
•John Knox, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, $992,993.
•Russell Guerin, executive vice president of business development and planning, $922,769.
•Keith Smith, senior vice president and general counsel, $783,643.
Presbyterian also released compensation information for its other top executives. Its figures include 2009 base salaries and 2008 bonuses, which were paid in 2009:
•Greg Beier, president of acute-care services Novant Health, $1,615,322.
•Carl Armato, president Novant core markets, $1,295,030.
•Dean Swindle, president of ambulatory services and chief financial officer for Novant Health, $1,084,155.
•Dr. Hayes Woollen, former president of Novant Medical Group, $1,009,168.
•Jacque Gattis, chief administrative officer for Novant Health, $902,374.
•Sallye Liner, president of Forsyth Medical Center and Winston-Salem market, $887,109.
•Dr. Stephen Wallenhaupt, chief medical officer for Novant Health, $867,740.
•Lawrence McGee, general counsel for Novant Health, $728,584.
•Dr. A.J. Patefield, chief medical information officer Novant Health, $706,889.
Again, how was the pay justified?
'We need to stay on top of what’s going on in the market and stay competitive,' says James Hynes, chairman of Carolinas HealthCare’s board of commissioners and a member of its compensation committee.
'Our process delivers the number we think we ought to have,' Hynes says. 'We feel like we’ve done it correctly.'
Moving on to Texas, the Dallas Morning News reported:
Top executives at Parkland Memorial Hospital collected about $1.7 million in bonuses at the end of last year, according to records released recently to The Dallas Morning News.
The 2009 bonuses, approved in December by the hospital's board of managers, went to vice presidents, senior vice presidents and executive vice presidents at the charity hospital.
The bonuses ranged from $36,054 for the vice president who heads the hospital's community clinics to $143,325 for Parkland's chief financial officer.
And what was the justification for these bonuses?
In previous years, Parkland's top three administrators were rewarded with bonuses for meeting certain goals. Last year, the pay plan was expanded to include the hospital's 'senior executive staff.'
Dr. Lauren McDonald, chairwoman of Parkland's board of managers, objected Wednesday to referring to the payments as bonuses, a term that could imply nothing was done to earn the money.
'We kind of stay away from the word 'bonus,'' she said. 'It's really earned incentives. We have certain goals that we set forth as a board.'
'Working with a consultant, we made sure these were earned, instead of just given.'
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price said that he was aware of the new executive pay plan at Parkland and that he wholeheartedly approved.
'It's a step in the right direction,' he said. 'You pay to keep good talent, and what we're paying them is not unreasonable.'
In particular, Price lauded the work of Anderson, who will earn $853,044 when his bonus is approved next week. His bonus will bring the hospital's total to about $2 million.
'The man has 29 years experience at Parkland,' Price said. 'He's put together the kind of executive team that has won Parkland an excellent bond rating. And it's debt-free, too.'
On the other hand, a second Dallas Morning News article noted,
The Parkland Memorial Hospital board of managers began its monthly meeting Tuesday by strongly endorsing the $1.7 million in 'incentive pay it handed out to 27 top executives at the end of December.
'There are a lot of negatives out there about this,' acknowledged Dr. Lauren McDonald, who chairs the board.
Some employees who received only 2 percent to 3 percent in merit increases last year were unhappy to hear last week that their bosses had gotten 19 percent to 31 percent in extra pay.
Dozens flooded online message boards with angry comments. A few called reporters to register their complaints.
So once again note that the top executives of health care organizations are not like you and me. Their total compensation generally ranges from generous to sufficiently lavish to make them instantly rich. Their pay almost never substantially decreases. If incentives are offered, they almost never fail to earn them.
Furthermore, notice the way the executives, and the boards to whom they supposedly report justify these practices.
It seems that the executives of every hospital are always above average. If pay is determined by comparisons to other institutions, it is never set at or below the average rate. At every hospital, "our" executives are superior, but without any clear definition of how they might be superior to whom. The processes by which compensation is made competitive are asserted to be accurate, without any objective confirmation of that accuracy provided (and note above that one leader seemed to justify the process because it produced the numbers he thought were right.) Bonuses are awarded for reaching "goals," but the goals always seem easily within reach, and the bonuses offered executives are always a much larger proportion of base pay than the bonuses offered anyone else.
So, to repeat, the sorts of compensation reported in Florida, North Carolina, and Texas are a product of the current management culture that has been infused into nearly every health care organization in the US. That culture holds that managers are different from you and me. They are entitled to a special share of other people's money. Because of their innate and self-evident brilliance, they are entitled to become rich. This entitlement exists even when the economy, or the financial performance of the specific organization prevents other people from making any economic progress. This entitlement exists even if those other poeple actually do the work, and ultimately provide the money that sustains the organization.
Although the executives of not-for-profit health care organizations generally make far less than executives of for-profit health care corporations, collectively, hired managers of even not-for-profit health care organizations have become richer and richer at a time when most Americans, including many health professionals, and most primary care physicians, have seen their incomes stagnate or fall. They are less and less restrainted by passive, if not crony boards, and more and more unaccountable. In a kind of multi-centric coup d'etat of the hired managers, they have become our new de facto aristocracy.
Or as we wrote in our previous post, executive compensation in health care seems best described as Prof Mintzberg described compensation for finance CEOs, "All this compensation madness is not about markets or talents or incentives, but rather about insiders hijacking established institutions for their personal benefit." As it did in finance, compensation madness is likely to keep the health care bubble inflating until it bursts, with the expected adverse consequences. Meanwhile, I say again, if health care reformers really care about improving access and controlling costs, they will have to have the courage to confront the powerful and self-interested leaders who benefit so well from their previously mission-driven organizations. It is time to reverse the coup d'etat of the hired managers.