Maine hospital salaries under fire by some

PORTLAND (AP) — The salaries of some Maine hospital executives are under fire by critics who say they add to the high cost of health care in the state.

Ten hospital employees in Maine were paid more than $1 million in 2011, according to the latest financial data released by the Internal Revenue Service.

Overall, the average salary for Maine's top hospital and health care group executives was slightly higher than the national average, according to a Maine Sunday Telegram (http://bit.ly/1a5r7xy ) analysis.

Democratic state Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick said high salaries lead to high costs which hurt the economy. Critics say the hospitals continue to pay high salaries while at the same time laying off rank-and-file employees.

But defenders said the salaries in Maine are below the average for the Northeast.

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JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

No doubt, high salaries trickle down to the consumers & states

The POTUS salary was at $200K until Bush doubled it, to $400K.
The man runs an entire country.

The hospital execs are running a hospital or health facilities, period, with paid staff under them.

Overall, the average salary for Maine's top hospital and health care group executives was slightly higher than the national average. SLIGHTLY.....

Receiving a six figure salary is just ludicrous and it affects the cost of everything, and falls onto the customers and the states.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The twelve dollar vitamin

The crazy cost of medical care in this country isn't just caused by a problem with salaries. Paying an experienced neurosurgeon a million dollars a year may not be unreasonable when you consider what that person had to do to become one. However, does every hospital in Maine have to have one? When hospitals open programs to replace hips or do heart surgery they have to keep those beds full to break even and when they don't they have to raise prices on something else. And they have already admitted to raising their prices in anticipation of possible charity care and nobody is keeping track of whether the increases are justified.. For profit hospitals do not compete as other businesses do. They compete by offering expanded services and fancy atriums all of which requires them to raise costs but doesn't necessarily mean better medical care.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Claire & Jer ? 16:00 Tuesday

Claire & Jer ? 16:00 Tuesday . . Per usual , you guys raise some good and valid points •  i dunno' what the answer is either but i do know that the health care system was seriously - b r o k e n - prior to Obamacare ® . There are a ton of frivolous lawsuits here in the US of A . It drives doctors' insurance rates up . We have the best and the worst here , e.g., Johns Hopkins vs. Slippery Rock teaching University
It's just capitalism
http://www.pnhp.org/news/2013/july/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-ab...
/s, Dr. Dosh

Kelsie Chamberlain's picture

The way life should be

When are people in Maine going to learn that we do not have the population to support the national average of salaries, regardless of job or place of employment. Our own local and state government have yet to figure this out, so why should private businesses or non-profit companies( Blue Cross ) get this right. We have very hard working folks in this state, and they are very capable of doing excellent jobs, with ground roots that do not need the ridiculous level of pay that most are getting at these upper management jobs. Heck most local and state employees do not eve pay much of their health care insurance, yet get raises. I do not get that. Lets face it, we have just become a very greedy and selfish country, so why should it be any different here.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Wrong on contractual hourly assessment

Heck most local and state employees do not even pay much of their health care insurance.????

Those workers pay out of the bargained package for their health care off the agreed contractual. They are told a recommended allocation to pay into their health care hourly assessment out of the agreed total amount bargained.

Kelsie Chamberlain's picture

Contractual - Union

Time to dump the unions, nor are they paying the same or close to the same as in the private sector. Government should not have to negotiate with unions, at the tax payers expense! Yes, union folk pay taxes to, but the bargaining is to costly! Time to smell the roses. There is to much " I deserve " in contracts, when in fact they do not work any harder or better than non-contracted employees.

Kelsie Chamberlain's picture

Contractual - Union

Time to dump the unions, nor are they paying the same or close to the same as in the private sector. Government should not have to negotiate with unions, at the tax payers expense! Yes, union folk pay taxes to, but the bargaining is to costly! Time to smell the roses. There is to much " I deserve " in contracts, when in fact they do not work any harder or better than non-contracted employees.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Deleted correction

.....off the agreed contractual fringe package......

Bob White's picture

I agree with you everybody

I agree with you everybody wants a raise every year but the problem is eventually the cost of labor gets to high and the business either raises the price of the product and sooner or later the product is to expensive or they have to get rid of the people that wanted those raises because they have become to expensive. Sure we all want more money we all want to live better but people are only going to pay so much for products.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Revising history

As I recall it the discussion we had was not over whether or not to pay the hospitals. It was always planned to pay them. The discussion was over how to pay them. For one thing whether to pay them all at once or over time. For another whether to pay them by borrowing the money, which we have to pay interest on, or to pay them as we got the money. For another whether to pay the hospitals and at the same time lower the cost of charity care that ran up this bill by accepting the federal offer to insure 70,000 of our uninsured Mainers. All we heard was how dire the financial situation of the hospitals were and how the debt had to do with expansion of benefits not charity care. And we were told it would cost more if we paid later rather than sooner. It appears that was all political fog. It was never as simple as we owe the money and we have to put the hospitals ahead of all other needs.

JOHN PAINTER's picture

These are CEO's of private

These are CEO's of private companies, which happen to be healthcare, they should be paid what the going rate is so long as their Boards find their performance acceptable.

What is completely backwards, in a market economy, is the fiscal black box of each of the hospitals "charge master". I want to know not just what a procedure I might need will cost at a given hospital, but the cost of the aspirin, or the $12 vitamin D tablet my wife was given (it was optional, but she had reasoned "how much could it cost?"), I find this hiding of cost from the consumer by hospital administration to be a serious culprit in the inflation of our healthcare system.

I would like to see preferably a national, or at least Maine bill introduced for legislation that requires all hospitals to publish the cost of their services and goods, catalogue if you will, for consumer review prior to access or use of those services or goods.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

What a surprise

So now we learn that all that money we had to pay all at once and even had to take out bonds to pay, we were in such a hurry and the hospitals were in such dire financial straits, did not go to help the Maine economy or to provide jobs, or to lower to cost of our health care but to pay for charity care and a million dollar buy out and million dollar salaries and nicer operating rooms. I am aware that hospitals have to pay competitive wages to get quality surgeons but the duplicity in the political rhetoric surrounding this issue is really infuriating. What we really got was more lay-offs, higher costing medical care and a longer wait for the bedpan !

The hospitals are private companies

If they were State owned entities (like a public university hospital) it would be different. But they're not, and the State has no right to tell them what they can pay their workers. They can pay their leaders what they want. Sure it's a lot of money, but they are running an enormous corporation. And those million dollar salaries are a teeny tiny fraction of the amount owed for services rendered. Go ahead and tell Dead River you won't pay your fuel bill because you don't approve of the president's salary. See how far that will get you this winter.

The money owed is not a subsidy or a revenue sharing agreement, it is payment for services rendered. A payment, by the way, which is lower than the payments we and our insurance companies make when we get the same services. So if you disapprove of paying a hospital because you don't like the chief executives' salaries, where will you go when you have a medical emergency? Or are you going to go and expect a free ride like the state got for years?

DONALD FERLAND's picture

So are you saying that

So are you saying that taxpayers should continue to pay for ambulance rides that cost $500 to go from St.Mary's to D'Youville? Don't you realize that by jacking up the prices for actual services is how they are paying these outrageous salaries?

It's the agreed to going

It's the agreed to going rate. If the State decides to refuse to pay those bills, the hopitals won't reducew, they will simply refuse to accept MaineCare patients, as have many practices that are tired of not getting paid in a timely fashion. m After all, if they're not going to get paid, what's their incentive?

Also....

Are you certain that's the cost to MaineCare? Every insurer negotiates a different price, and it's usually less than the "sticker price" or the price the uninsured are required to pay out of pocket.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Yes I am sure that was the

Yes I am sure that was the cost to MaineCare. It was on a statement for my father for verification that he received the services. When I questioned the amount I was told that was the charge. So why should our tax dollars pay such outrageous fees.

For the same reason a private

For the same reason a private individual or insurance company would. Because that is the charge.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

And you wonder why the

And you wonder why the insurance rates are so high and the DHHS budget is out of control....I would think you would be outraged that your tax dollars are paying such outrageous rates. I would think you would want MaineCare to negotiate more reasonable rates and that you would want a say in how that money was spent. I know I sure do....there is no reason on this earth why any head of anything needs a 6 or 7 digit salary when they are laying off the people actually doing the work.....Been to a hospital lately? Ever seen administration come help someone to the bathroom or comfort a family of someone dying? Insurance rates would come down if hospitals would have to charge reasonable fees for care.....$12 for a vitamin pill....gee I can go to the drug store and get a whole bottle for less then what they charge.

Do you know what the

Do you know what the negotiated rates are that MaineCare/Medicare has agreed to? I don't, but it is my understanding that the rates paid by Medicaid are lower than what the rest of us are paying. I'd object if the prices were higher, but if they are not, then that is simply the cost of doing business.

Only a very small part of our bills are paying those salaries. Hospitals have other expenses as well. Cost of maintaining facilities (HVAC, water, power, buiding maitenance) dwarf the salaries. As do equipment costs, and especially the millions per year malpractice insurance. You can blame the ambulance chasing lawyers for that last one.

Has anyone seen how much per year hospitals lose on unpaid bills from the uninsure and indigent who are not on MaineCare? Those bills cover them too.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

And if these costs are

And if these costs are negotiated, where is the outrage that they are really outrageous in their prices? $500 for an ambulance ride across the street? $12 for a vitamin pill? You like seeing taxpayer money paying those costs? Don't you think if we stood our ground and made sure the negotiated prices were REASONABLE the state could save money and the insurance rates would go down for ALL? What the hospitals do not want you to know is they are making money hand over fist at the hands of employees who are now being laid off and patients who have no choice but to go to the hospitals. With the current economy you would think the cuts would be made in the highest paid salaries. Why can't they go from $1 million dollar salaries to lets say $500 thousand dollars and use those savings to keep employees that actually provide patient care? And if republicans and the governor had voted for and signed into law the Maine Care expansion then there would be 70,000 less uninsured people in this state, but in their infinite wisdom (said sarcastically) they chose to keep the uninsured without coverage which increases free care costs....that's really using their brains...NOT.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Why is it

Why is it you always attack the one who fixed the problem not created it. Your beloved Gov Joe created the payment problem. Are these salaries high yes they are, because good people come at a price and they are not tenured after three years. They have to produce or sign up for unemployment.

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

Did not produce

MMC lost money ever after getting paid my the state-- and after promising we would see more jobs they are firing 400 workers just a couple weeks after we agreed to pay them. So will the CEO continue to get raises??probably yes -- it is not based on performance just greed .

Bob White's picture

Answer the question

Did we owe the money to the hospitals? Yes or No. If we did then that should be the end of the conversation. If we didn't then we need to talk about it. I look at these hospitals they are small cities so it only stands to reason that the people running the small cities should be paid and paid well. I don't understand why people insist on telling people how to spend other peoples money.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

This coming from someone who

This coming from someone who wanted to tell food stamp and welfare recipients how to spend what they received because it was taxpayer money. I say we should be able to tell the hospitals that they cannot pay million dollar salaries to their execs but need to spend it on actual care of patients.....which is why during the debate on this bill I said many times that their should be an audit to make sure the amount paid was actually for services rendered and were reasonable charges.

Bob White's picture

Well Tina there is a big

Well Tina there is a big difference the money that the hospitals asked to be paid is money for services that they have rendered. This money that the hospital was asking for or ask for in the future is not a donation or a freebie. We may not like the pricing but at the end of the day if we go to the hospitals the fees are the fees and they earned them. ( I'm not saying I agree with the fees) The people on food stamps on the other hand these people are taking a donation something for nothing if they don't want to be told what they can spend money given to them then they can earn there own money. One other thing if we have to pay these people money (food Stamps) do we want them to eat unhealthy so we can have them be unhealthy and end up in the hospitals? We all know we hate to pay people that have earned there keep. As far as the audits I would rather see the government regulate the price of oil. Oil effects a lot more people on a daily bases. The government regulates electricity natural gas and even milk why not something like oil that can make or break a economy.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The price of gasoline at the

The price of gasoline at the pumps should never have been allowed to go above $2.25 a gallon. I realize there are probably a half dozen valid reasons why it did, but as you pointed out, Bob, government seems to be regulating (or trying to) everything else, so why not oil.

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

small cities?

Would you agree that the leader of " large city" like Lewiston, Auburn or Portland should get a Million dollar salary?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Hell, Tina, they're paying

Hell, Tina, they're paying guys more than that to catch footballs. A CEO is usually responsible for an entire hospital or healthcare system. Lots of responsibilities and liability risks. I'll admit, a mil a year is a bit pricey, though.
If the CEO is competent and gets the job done and he's needed here, the choice is simple. If he can't get what he's worth here, he'll go where he CAN get it. Things are out of sorts, there is no doubt.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Well I personally think

Well I personally think athletes get paid too darn much as well. And football is a sport I don't watch with any consistency. So they can all take a pay cut as far as I am concerned.

Bob White's picture

Depends on a few things.

Depends on a few things. First and foremost is there someone willing to pay that. Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay. I think people wouldn't go for it but the difference here is these are private companies so as long as the boss board of directors feel they are getting value then everybody is happy.

Claudette Therriault's picture

Million dollar salaries?

I don't care what you have for an education, how good a CEO you are, or what a good ball player you are. Million dollar salaries are obscene!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Have you notified Tom Brady

Have you notified Tom Brady of that? 0O:-)

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Got his number or

Got his number or address....I will tell him to his face that he doesn't need the salary he is getting.

Claudette Therriault's picture

Brady

I'll get that address for you Tina, only you could to that!

DONALD FERLAND's picture

The question is Do I have to

The question is Do I have to do it tactfully or can I tell him what I really think?

Claudette Therriault's picture

tactful?

There are times when one must can refrain from being tactful, grasshopper.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Aren't you supposed to be

Aren't you supposed to be tactful Tina?

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Paul, what I am suppose to be

Paul, what I am suppose to be and what I am can, at times, be many different things. After being "tactful" for so long, I am at the point where I want the sledgehammer to start waking some people up. I have been reading this stuff for such a long time I am still amazed at the hypocrisy there is. People want to tell those who get welfare or food stamps how to spend what they receive because it is "taxpayer" money but yet there is no outrage when "taxpayer" money is spent to pay bills that most normal people would question if they were the ones paying it. They seem to want to keep making the rich richer instead of trying to bring costs, and budgets, under control. They wonder why the DHHS budget is out of control and blame only those down on their luck but yet support giving hospitals money so that they can continue to pay CEO's more money than they need. Maybe I am naive but I would think a way to save even more money in the DHHS budget is to overhaul the rates they pay out to the hospitals. That would seem to me to be a way bigger savings then to go after the measly amount of money people get off welfare. While I do agree that there are people out there committing fraud to get their welfare benefits, they are actually in the minority of the recipients. However, the corporate welfare has fraud being committed in much larger amounts. Hospitals are charging unreasonable amounts of money for care....i.e. $12 for a vitamin pill, $500 for an ambulance ride across the street and the people in this state and our government don't seem to care about that. So I guess as "tactful" as I have tried to be, it may be time to not be so "tactful"

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You're not gonna go over all

You're not gonna go over all that stuff with Brady, are ya? 0O:)

DONALD FERLAND's picture

No I would just tell him he

No I would just tell him he is a diva who doesn't deserve the pay he is getting and that he should give it back or donate it to the poor. Besides he seems like he is a cry baby to me. Lol

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

He's living pretty large, but

He's living pretty large, but one good hit and it's all over. They get paid for the physical risk they take.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Ok so he gets paid for the

Ok so he gets paid for the physical risk he takes. That was his choice. Why should he get paid more then service men and women or firefighters who also chose a risky job but get no where near the compensation? Athletes are no different then others in risky jobs but the others risk their lives every day versus risking their lives once a week.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Because people who make $15

Because people who make $15 bucks an hour are willing to pay $228 to $400 a ticket to go see him play.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

I won't say what I think

I won't say what I think about those people, but I better not hear one of them complain about being broke and being angry about the cost of the DHHS budget when they want to waste away their money. Besides with all sports there is a better view on tv then in person so why waste the money for more over charging greed.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

If they're working and able

If they're working and able to afford the price, aren't they free to spend their money any way they choose? A working stiff paying $200 to go to a football game and the DHHS budget are two separate and dissimilar things. If he's a taxpayer, doesn't still have the right to attend a sporting event and bitch about the high cost of the DHHS budget?

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