The Green Mountain Care Board recently released detailed financial information for hospital administrators and top-paid physicians throughout the state. The report shows that the average pay for hospital CEOs was roughly $600,000, and in some cases, large bonuses were also paid out.
For instance, Dr. John Brumsted — the CEO of the University of Vermont Health Network — received a bonus of $492,000 on top of his $979,064 base salary.
Kevin Mullin, the chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, is concerned about the size of some of these bonuses.
"One of the alarming things was to learn that people were given bonuses for successful completion of certificate of need applications and that just doesn't sit well with me,” said Mullin. “So I think we are going to have to have a conversation as a board about that and I don't think that should be allowed."
But Mullin does not think it's appropriate for the board to scrutinize the actual salaries that hospital CEOs are paid.
"I don't think that we should be telling a hospital what they're going to pay someone,” said Mullin. “So I don't think that's a proper role for the Green Mountain Care Board."
Mullin also says it's important for Vermont hospitals to continue to attract well qualified personnel.
"You don't want bad doctors or bad administrators; you want to be able to compensate them at a level that's going to attract the best," said Mullin.
Jeff Tieman, the president of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, says salary decisions are made by the compensation committees at the individual hospitals and reflect the fact that a CEO needs to possess a wide range of critical skills.
"These are complicated jobs that involve layer upon layer of financial, operational, clinical complexity," said Tieman.
Vermont's Chief Health Care Advocate Mike Fisher is troubled by the high pay that's given to hospital CEOs.
"I think that how much hospitals pay their chief executives is an important factor for the Green Mountain Care Board to look at as they're evaluating the entire budget and the decisions that the hospitals are making," said Fisher.
Fisher says that Vermont hospitals should be able to attract well qualified CEOs even if their salaries were capped at $500,000 a year.