6 nonprofit healthcare executives in the 'Million-Dollar Club'

Healthcare systems and academic medical centers are some of the highest paying nonprofit organizations, doling out seven-figure pay packages to their top executives. 

An analysis of IRS data shows that roughly 2,700 leaders at large charitable organizations earned at least $1 million during 2014. These high-paid nonprofit execs make up what the Wall Street Journal calls “the Million-Dollar Club.”

The club’s roster largely comes from the healthcare industry, which employed 75% of the high-paid nonprofit executives, according to the Economic Research Institute. 

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Based on total compensation, 6 of the top 10 earners worked at healthcare organizations. Anthony Tersigni, the president and CEO of Ascension Health Alliance, topped the list. He took home more than $17 million in total pay in 2014.

And Tersigni is in growing company: The number of charity executives paid seven-figure salaries increased 30% from about 2,000 executives in 2011 to 2,700 in 2014, according to the WSJ.

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The six highest-paid nonprofit healthcare leaders include:

1. Anthony Tersigni: $17,565,552
President and CEO, Ascension Health Alliance

2. George Halvorson: $10,399,970
Chairman, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (Retired January 2014)

3. Michael Dowling: $10,105,557
President and CEO, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health Care

4. Andrew Hecht, M.D.: $9,916,902
Chief, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

5. William Winkenwerder: $9,793,477   
Ex Officio Director and President, Highmark Health

6. Thomas L. Spray, M.D.: $8,874,646
Asst. Secretary, Children's Surgical Associates

Most hospitals and health systems in the United States operate as nonprofits with tax-exempt status. To qualify for substantial tax breaks, hospitals must meet certain requirements, such as providing free or discounted care, implementing community health improvement activities or making donations to community groups.

The American Hospital Association has said nonprofit hospitals give back more to their communities than they get in tax breaks, delivering $11 in community benefit activities for every $1 invested. However, as WSJ noted, critics continue to question their million-dollar payouts.