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Patient safety advocates expose multimillionaire hospital executives and multibillion-dollar hospital corporations as the true source of opposition to Question 1

Press Release: Corporate giants spend millions on deceptive ads making blatantly false claims while posting more than a billion in profits, spending billions more on administration buildings and hospital expansion and hoarding nearly a billion more in offshore accounts – all to avoid being held accountable for providing safer patient care

SOMERVILLE – Today, the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care visited the $464 million corporate headquarters of Partners HealthCare in effort to expose the true opposition to safe patient limits to ensure safer patient care in our state’s hospitals: multimillionaire hospital executives and multibillion-dollar hospital corporations.

These hospitals corporations behind the deceptive NO campaign claim that they can’t afford to meet the safe patient care limits called for by nurses with Question 1. But at the same time, news outlets are reporting enormous compensation packages for hospital CEOs, including raises for some of between 50 to 80 percent; and profits of more than $1 billion in 2017 for the Massachusetts hospital industry.

These corporate giants have already spent $11 million dollars on deceptive ads claiming nurses oppose Question 1, which could not be further from the truth.

  • 86 percent of nurses surveyed say the support Question 1, and fully 90 percent of the state’s nurses report that under current conditions they can’t provide the care hospital patients need to be safe.

Nursing organizations representing hundreds of thousands of nurses from across North America have endorsed the effort by Massachusetts nurses.

Hospital executives claim that they cannot afford to provide safer patient care when they spend billions on expanding buildings and on the purchase of hospitals and entire hospital networks in other states and other countries; and while hoarding more than $900 million in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens.

“Nurses wrote and support Question 1 because we have tried for years to convince these executives to provide us with conditions, including safe limits on the number of patients we care for, to ensure we can provide the care our patients need when they need it most,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association and Co-Chair of the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care. “Hospital executives are bankrolling a multimillion-dollar campaign made up of deception, lies, and fear-mongering at its most extreme. It is absolutely shameful that they are attempting to pit nurse versus nurse, hoping that we won’t notice that they are doing everything humanly possible to protect their astronomical profit margins and huge CEO salaries, rather than investing in quality patient care.”

The Massachusetts hospital industry is dominated by large national corporate hospital networks, with 20 percent for-profit institutions and 15 percent owned by Wall Street investment firms. Hospitals in Massachusetts boast over $1 billion in profits each year, with some of the highest rates of executive compensation in the country. Significant portions of hospital industry money can be found in real estate assets, institutions outside of Massachusetts, and stashed in off-shore tax havens to the tune of $1 billion. This is the foundation for those opposing safe patient limits.

 

Choosing Money Over Patients

Hospital executives claim they cannot afford to provide patients with safe care. But the reality is that Massachusetts hospitals are very profitable and are making enormous investments. Hospitals are among the largest businesses in Massachusetts, many of them employing thousands of employees and collecting hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in revenue.

Hospital executives make choices about where to invest – new administration buildings, consolidating hospitals, buying hospitals in other countries. Boston Children’s Hospital is spending more than $1 billion on a new expansion of facilities[i]and Beth Israel is spending more than $500 million to build a new 10-story patient care tower.[ii]Having two years ago spent $465 million on a gleaming new office tower in Somerville[iii], Partners HealthCare is now spending millions to purchase hospitals in New Hampshire and Rhode Island.[iv]Steward Health Care, which is owned by a hedge fund, is purchasing entire health care networks in a number of states as well as an entire health care system in Malta.[v]

 

A Question of Priorities

Hospital executives are threatening to close the services that treat our most vulnerable patients, blaming the cost to implement safe patient limits. But hospital executives have been callously closing hospitals and hospital units for years, excluding the community from the discussion. Hospital executives ignore the needs of the communities where they operate and disregard basic decency.

These same hospitals are making this threat while posting enormous profits, and paying their CEOs seven figure salaries, with double digit raises. They are making this threat when all the research and the experience with this law in California shows that with safe patient limits, hospitals are more profitable and cost efficient.

 

The Real Picture: Hospital Profits 

The annual hospital profitability report released by the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), an independent state agency, found that statewide in Fiscal Year 2017, the median margin for hospitals was 3.2%. In 2017, the majority of hospital health systems and hospitals reported a positive total margin, with the majority of acute care hospitals – 49 out of 62 – reporting a surplus.[vi]

The total profits for Massachusetts acute care hospitals over the past 6 fiscal years (2012-2017) were a staggering $7,672,153,497. The profit for just FY17 was over a billion, at $1,024,004,633.

The most profitable hospitals over the past 6 years were:

  • Massachusetts General Hospital at over $1.4 billion
  • Baystate Health = over $691 million
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital = over $689 million
  • Boston Children’s Hospital = over $407 million
  • Southcoast Health = over $384 million
  • Saint Vincent Hospital = over $346 million
  • Berkshire Medical Center = over $279 million

 

The Real Picture: Executive Compensation 

The sky is the limit for how much hospitals executives will spend to protect their multimillion-dollar salaries at the expense of patient safety health. Recent news reports have painted a startling picture of the astronomical salaries and compensation packages for Massachusetts hospital executives:

  • “Executives at many of the region’s largest hospitals earned massive raises in the most recent reporting year, according to newly-released federal compensation data.” (Boston Business Journal, 8/15/18)
  • “The leaders of Massachusetts’ largest nonprofit hospitals continue to collect seven-figure pay packages, and many earned big raises in 2016, according to federal tax filings released Wednesday.” (Boston Globe, 8/15/18)

 

Meet the Executives Behind the Campaign Against Patient Safety

Name

Affiliation

2016 Total Compensation

Dr. Howard R. Grant

CEO, Lahey Health $1.4 million
Dr. Kevin Tabb CEO, Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center

$1.6 million

Kate Walsh* President & CEO, Boston Medical Center

$1.7 million

Dr. Eric Dickson

President & CEO, UMass Memorial Medical Center $2 million
Sandra Fenwick* President & CEO, Boston Children’s Hospital

$2.2 million

Dr. Mark Keroack

CEO, Baystate Health $2.2 million
Dr. Peter Slavin* President, Massachusetts General Hospital

$3.6 million

Dr. Elizabeth Nabel*

President, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

$3.6 million

Dr. David Torchiana* President & CEO, Partners Healthcare

$4.7 million

Dr. Gene Green

President & CEO, South Shore Health System $1.2 million
Patrick Muldoon* President, UMass Memorial Medical Center

$1.5 million

Normand Deschene*

CEO of Wellforce (parent of Tufts Medical Center)

$3.9 million

Dr. Ron Walls CEO, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

$5 million

 

*A number of these executives saw double-digit increases in compensation from 2015 to 2016 – including Slavin, with an increase of 82%; Nabel, with an increase of 73%; Deschene, with an increase of 83%; Fenwick, with an increase of 18%; Walsh, with an increase of 15%; Muldoon, with an increase of 14%; Torchiana, with an increase of 11%.

 

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