Mass. Nurses Union Among Those Pushing For Hospital Profit Transparency

Jun 9, 2015


Nurse and patient advocates in Massachusetts are using an unorthodox method to drum up support for legislation calling for more transparency into hospital profits and setting limits on CEO salaries. Supporters are heading to Boston for a legislative committee hearing on the bill.

Members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association will accompany a mascot named “Fat Cat Hospital CEO” to give lawmakers audio postcards and a list of 40 hospitals, including Berkshire Medical Center, they say have offshore accounts.

“What are our tax dollars doing in offshore Cayman Island accounts?” asks the audio postcard. “Massachusetts make over half of their money from taxpayers from Medicaid and Medicare payments.”

BHS says a small portion of its self-insurance funds for liability claims are kept for immediate use offshore where expertise handling insurance funds has developed. The legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing will hold a hearing on the Hospital Profit Transparency And Fairness Act Wednesday at 11. It calls for the release of all financial accounts held by hospitals that receive public funding. It would create a fund to increase Medicaid reimbursements that would be fed by penalties collected for violating the act. More than 30 lawmakers have signed onto the bill.

“Like most health systems in the commonwealth and many more across the country, Berkshire Health Systems covers its cost of liability claims through a self-insurance program,” explains BHS spokesman Michael Leary. “Following the advice of nationally advisers in the field of insurance, BHS sets aside each year an amount of money that covers the cost of claims that may arise. A small portion of those funds that are set aside for liability claim purposes is held for immediate use by BHS’ self-insurance program manager. That manager is located offshore where specialized expertise in managing these programs has developed over the last 40 years or so. Except for the immediate needs funds, all of the insurance set asides are invested conservatively in our traditional investment accounts. Managing its cost of claims in this manner saves a considerable amount of money that can then be invested in patient care. Information about the self-insurance fund is included annually and publically available information about Berkshire Health Systems.”