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Tax Exempt Hospitals Cutting Staff While CEOs Still Enjoy Six To Seven Figure Compensation Packages

This M.B. Pell article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution points to a trend that’s now all too common in corporate America:

Hospitals across the region are cutting staff, elected officials are considering slashing Medicaid and Medicare funding and medical bills are driving an increasing number of Georgians into bankruptcy.

But the six- to seven-digit compensation packages for the chief executives who lead metro Atlanta’s taxpayer-subsidized hospitals remain untouched and in most cases are growing.

Five of these CEOs made more than $1 million in the fiscal year ending in 2009, the last tax records available.

Edward Bonn of Southern Regional Health System, which operates Southern Regional Medical Center and two affiliated facilities, made $2,610,175 in fiscal 2009. Bonn left the system that year and received his pay of $421,822 plus $2.2 million from a retirement plan. Hospital CEOs commonly receive extra pay from retirement plans when they leave.

Bonn did not receive a bonus because the hospital system lost $12 million that year, the hospital said.

So as hospital CEOs are still taking home hefty paychecks, tax exempt hospitals — which also receive millions in government grants — are cutting staff and their associations are lobbying the government against including any additional Medicare cuts in the debt ceiling negotiations. In fact, the American Hospital Associationspent nearly $4.1 million in the first three months of the year lobbying the federal government on the health care overhaul and several bills tied to it,” Forbes recently reported.

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The fact still is that any additional cuts will be felt by patients first and executives last — a situation that screams for greater regulation of the CEO compensation packages of tax-exempt institutions and points to some of the access in the health care system.