(Host) The top five corporate officers at the state’s largest hospital earned a combined salary of over $1.5 million for the 2001 fiscal year. Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington disclosed the salary information and other financial data in documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
VPR’s John Dillon reports.
(Dillon) Like many other non-profit corporations, Fletcher Allen Health Care has to file detailed financial forms each year with the IRS. The forms reveal the hospital’s assets, its revenues and some of its major expenses. At Fletcher Allen, top executives earn six figure paychecks.
CEO William Boettcher gets paid $525,000 a year. Boettcher is now on paid leave as state and federal authorities investigate allegations that the hospital misled regulators about a $55 million parking garage. The IRS forms released this week indicate that Boettcher’s salary went up in the last year. For the fiscal year ending in September 2001, he earned $460,000. The other officers at Fletcher Allen earn approximately $200,000 to $400,000.
Hospital spokesman Mike Noble says the top salaries are in line with what others health care administrators earn at similar institutions:
(Noble) “Executive compensation is looked at by the compensation committee of the Board. They look at statistics and compensation information from across the country to determine what the appropriate level of compensation should be, and a figure is set and it’s reflective of the marketplace and the type of compensation you need to provide to have a person come and run a medical center such as this.”
(Dillon) A 2002 salary survey conducted for the American College of Healthcare executives shows that the annual median compensation for hospital CEOs around the country was $274,000. That’s less than Fletcher Allen paid some of its top officers.
But the Burlington hospital and the Dartmouth Hitchock in Lebanon, New Hampshire seem to be in the same ballpark. According to the most recent IRS forms available for the Dartmouth hospital, CEO James Varnum earned $480,000 two years ago.
The IRS forms for Fletcher Allen also show what the hospital paid its top consultants. The architectural firm designing its new $225 million project earned about $10 million. The Burlington law firm of Downs, Rachlin and Martin made $957,000. And the consulting firm that hospital president Boettcher used to work for was paid $836,000.
Jeanne Keller, a hospital critic and health policy analyst in Burlington, says Vermont regulators should take a close look at the hospital’s consulting and legal fees:
(Keller) “It’s important to focus on executive salaries. But who are these people getting two million dollars of our money and what for? How much of Downs Rachlin’s money is to defend all these bad decisions that Fletcher Allen’s been making?”
(Dillon) Later this month, a public oversight commission will review budgets for all 14 of the state’s hospitals. Commission members have said they want to take a close look at Fletcher Allen.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Burlington.