Massachusetts Blues reinstates board member payments

Despite suspending payments to its board of directors two years ago, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has quietly reinstated its controversial financial reward program.

But Blue Cross said the payments will be reduced and will be provided to fewer board members than in the past. Part-time board members will now receive a maximum of $54,500 this year, a decrease of 30 percent. Other board members' fees will decline by almost 20 percent from as much as $58,600 to $47,000, The Boston Globe reported.

Even with these cuts, though, Blue Cross board members will remain among the highest paid board members of any non-profit Massachusetts insurer, receiving a total of more than $800,000 in 2013 alone, reported the Boston Herald.

What's more, the payments include a bonus of $1,500 to any board member who attends a meeting in person and $500 for calling into the meeting by phone.

Blue Cross had discontinued board member payments in 2011 amid outrage over its $11 million payout to its former CEO Cleve Killingsworth and Attorney General Martha Coakley's investigation of Blue Cross's practice of paying its board members.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Spokesman Jay McQuaide highlighted that the insurer has cut the payments by an average of 25 percent. "This has been a two-year process that the board has undertaken to strengthen our governance practices to make sure they are in line with best practices," he told the Herald in a separate article.

He added that Blue Cross also has limited board members to three terms and now requires that they retire at age 72. "The board also focused on adding members with the kind of skill sets, capabilities and expertise needed to provide oversight of an organization of our size and complexity," McQuaide said.

To learn more:
- read the Boston Globe article
- see the Boston Herald articles on board payments and McQuaide interview