Folwell targeting “excessive pay” of senior hospital execs

As the administrator of the state employee health plan,  state treasurer Dale Folwell has some choice words for some of the ‘big dogs’ at the state’s hospitals.  Folwell and his team are expected to release a scathing report on the situation this Wednesday:

[…] Nonprofit hospital executives enriched themselves while fueling a crisis of health care affordability in North Carolina. A new analysis of hospital data finds that nonprofit hospital CEOs doubled their paychecks in a fraction of the time previously thought. Existing research had gravely underestimated the growth of wage inequity across nonprofit hospitals. 

Treasurer Folwell will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, to release a new report that finds an explosion in hospital executive pay over the past decade. Treasurer Folwell invited researchers from the North Carolina State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy to study executive compensation across North Carolina’s nine largest hospital systems, as well as the Midwest system Advocate Aurora Health.

Atrium, Mission, Novant, UNC, Vidant, Duke, Cone, WakeMed, Wake Forest Baptist Health paid more than $1 billion to their top executives from 2010 to 2021. Researchers also found troubling trends in hospital executive compensation during the pandemic. Frontline workers risked their lives to care for patients, but nurse and physician wages have risen far more slowly than executive pay over the past decade.Despite pleading poverty and taking $1.5 billion in taxpayer-funded COVID relief, the majority of hospital top executives did not cut their own paychecks in 2020.  

While hospital executives enjoyed huge raises, workers’ wages have remained largely flat over the past decade. Rising health care costs are eroding families’ upward mobility. The average worker now loses 20% of a paycheck to health care costs, and one in five North Carolinians is in debt collections for medical bills. State employees must work one week out of every month just to pay the family premium. 

Treasurer Folwell will call on nonprofit hospital executives to recommit to their charitable mission and strengthen their transparency. According to peer-reviewed reports commissioned by the treasurer, nonprofit hospitals enjoyed more than $1.8 billion in tax breaks in 2020, but the majority of hospitals failed to justify their tax breaks by providing an equivalent level of charity care. Worse, failures in existing law have concealed critical data from tax filings across Atrium and UNC Health — two of North Carolina’s largest hospital systems.[…]

Well, now.  This sounds like fun.  We’ll bring you that report as soon as we can get our grubby mitts on it.

(Go get ’em, Mr. Treasurer.)