Hospital CEO pay in the hands of voters

On Nov. 6, a California hospital district will decide whether the state will cap compensation for 10 hospital executives, managers and administrators, including the CEO, at El Camino Hospital. And the hospital, embroiled in turmoil with a workers' union, has committed $149,000 to fight the measure, The Bay Citizen reported.

After the hospital required workers to pay more for health benefits, the Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers West pushed Measure M. The proposal would limit the annual salary and compensation package of El Camino executives to no more than twice the annual salary of the governor.

Currently, Gov. Jerry Brown earns $173,987 in salary, according to the ballot question. Effective Dec. 3, 2012, the governor's salary will be $165,288. Double that amount, the threshold would be $330,576.

Comparatively, El Camino Hospital's CEO Tomi Ryba makes $695,000 a year, about four times as much as the governor, as well as a 30 percent bonus for performance goals, according to the news site.

"A million dollars a year is too much to pay executives at El Camino Hospital, a nonprofit that receives millions of taxpayer dollars annually," certified nurse assistant Laura Huston and licensed psychiatric tech Kary W. Lynch said on the measure. "El Camino provides excellent patient care, but its finances are badly mismanaged," they continued.

El Camino is the largest contributor to the "No on M" committee, The Bay Citizen reported. "The El Camino executive who has the most to lose if Measure M passes was the same person who authorized spending money to defeat it," the news outlet noted about Ryba.

The hospital has argued the measure is potentially illegal, drawing into question whether a hospital district is subject to a voter-approved initiative. El Camino hospital also says it doesn't use a penny of taxpayer money for salaries and Measure M arbitrarily links hospital executive compensation to the governor's pay rather to its peer hospitals, according to members of the board of directors on the ballot question.

Ryba told The Bay Citizen, "As a district hospital, the residents of the district elect officials to provide oversight of El Camino Hospital. Measure M undermines their ability and authority to conduct business, such as setting executive compensation."

For more information:
- read the Bay Citizen article
- see Measure M details on Smart Voter
- here's the No on M website

Related Articles:
Hospital exec pay cap goes to the ballot
Union accuses El Camino Hospital of intimidating election officials
Hospital workers call on voters to curb new CEO's pay
Severance for nonprofit hospital CEO nears seven figures