1-year pay freeze urged for Vermont hospital execs making more than $500K

A Vermont mental health advocate is petitioning healthcare regulators Sept. 5 to establish a one-year freeze on hospital administrators' salaries if they make more than $500,000 annually, VTDigger reports.

Five things to know:

1. Ken Libertoff, former director of the Vermont Association for Mental Health, said the Green Mountain Care Board, which is charged with reducing the rate of healthcare cost growth in Vermont, has engaged in a "dereliction of duty" by failing to review executive compensation since the board began in 2011. The board approves hospital budget amounts.

2. Fifty-three Vermont hospital employees make more than $500,000 annually, according to figures the hospitals supplied to the board. The figure includes administrators and surgeons at Vermont's 14 hospitals.

3. As of fiscal year 2015 (the most recent available hospital filings), 21 hospital executives made over $500,000 a year. Burlington-based University of Vermont Medical Center had the most executives in the $500,000-plus range, with 12, and has eight of the 10 highest paid hospital executives in Vermont. Rutland (Vt.) Regional Medical Center followed, with five executives making more than $500,000.

4. After receiving criticism for its top salaries, UVMMC says that it offers competitive salaries necessary to attract executives capable of overseeing the state’s largest medical network.

5. Mr. Libertoff will petition the board to assess how increases in administrative pay compare to salary increases for other hospital staff, such as nurses. The effort is separate from and predates the recent labor dispute between the UVMMC nurses union and the state's largest hospital. 

"It's more symbolic than a money saver," Mr. Libertoff said. "The trend in increases is so exorbitant, though, it might have an impact."

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