Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Nation: How corporate, how Catholic?

Nation: How corporate, how Catholic?: "How corporate, how Catholic?

Tax-exempt hospitals face questions over pay and uninsured care


Officials at the nonprofit Providence Health System, the largest hospital system in Oregon and the state’s second largest employer, knew they had, at a minimum, a public relations problem. Difficult questions were sure to be raised about the $6.6 million in wages and retirement benefits received by retired CEO Henry Walker and the high six-figure salaries paid to other top management.

In a Nov. 15 e-mail to his managers, Russ Danielson, who heads Providence’s Oregon operations, acknowledged as much. “I’m sending you this information,” Danielson told his staff, “because there are organizations whose work is intended to disrupt and divide.” Danielson noted that his 2004 compensation was $646,050 of which $97,366 was for deferred retirement. “It’s important that you know what is being reported in the event you are asked about it or hear about from the media,” wrote Danielson.

The compensation information, part of a routine financial disclosure report to the IRS made by Providence last month, came at a particularly inopportune time for the $4 billion health care giant, a jewel in the $66 billion, 600-hospital Catholic health system. Among the disrupters and dividers alluded to by Danielson: the Internal Revenue Service, the Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Budget Office, numerous state attorneys general, local governments, health care watchdog groups, politically connected trial attorneys who have shifted their attention from tobacco companies to nonprofit hospitals, and the Service Employees International Union."

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