Executive pay jumps at nonprofit hospitals

The paychecks of nonprofit hospital CEOs is under serious scrutiny once again. The top 10 executives at Carolinas HealthCare System each received more than $1 million in 2012, an 8 percent jump from the previous year, the Charlotte Observer reported.

CEO Michael Tarwater earned $4.76 million in 2012, including base salary, bonuses and benefits, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

An investigation by the Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer of Raleigh last year revealed the local nonprofit hospitals saw strong profits. At the same time, though, North Carolina hospitals filed more than 40,000 lawsuits against patients in five years ending in 2010, mostly by Carolinas HealthCare.

"It does raise an eyebrow for me when you have hospital CEO taking home that kind of pay and, on the other hand, sending very low-income patients to collections and suing them," Jessica Curtis, director of the Hospital Accountability Project for Community Catalyst in Boston, told the Charlotte Observer.

Recent media reports have pointed to nonprofit hospitals with significant revenue and low levels of charitable care in North Carolina, Illinois and New York. There are no universal standards for how much uncompensated care a hospital must offer to be considered a nonprofit and avoid property taxes, nor federal caps on hospital executive pay. However, California and Massachusetts are considering regulations for limiting executive compensation.

For more information:
- read the Charlotte Observer article
- read the Winston-Salem Journal article

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