Executive compensation: Backlash grows among legislators, hospital workers

Hospital CEO salaries are once again prompting a public backlash, with at least one state unveiling a proposal to cap executive compensation.

In Connecticut, state Rep. Susan Johnson (D) has proposed making nonprofit hospitals pay municipal property taxes if they pay their leaders salaries of more than $500,000, according to the Stamford Advocate. This is considerably less than many current leaders' salaries, including the $2.4 million Stamford Hospital President and CEO Brian Grissler made in fiscal 2013-14 and the $1.2 million Western Connecticut Health Network CEO John Murphy, M.D., made over the same period.

"We've been fighting for the hospitals at the Capitol to make sure they are adequately funded, but I kept hearing about administrators' salaries and how they're making a few million dollars a year," Johnson told the publication. "Having a cap here will help us provide more money to town services and educational services, particularly in these areas where the hospitals are."

In Ohio, an ABC5 investigation found hospital CEOs earn up to $4 million annually, and often earn bonuses of up to 40 percent of their salary. Critics in both states say these numbers are particularly concerning among non-profit hospitals, where CEOs earn more despite more inpatient care complications and higher expenses. "It's especially disturbing for taxpayers who are giving a non-profit hospital a tax break because they are expected to provide charity care to the community and at the same time the executive is making a million dollars a year," Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, told ABC5.

In Orange County, California, this week, unionized Kaiser Permanente employees protested executive bonuses, according to The Orange County Register, particularly after union members were not awarded much smaller bonuses of up to $2,000 due to budget shortfalls. Meanwhile, according to union spokesman Sean Wherley, 50 Kaiser executives nationwide earn up to $10 million annually.

To learn more:
- here's the Advocate article
- read the ABC5 article
- check out the Register article