Under pressure from its high-powered – and for the past two years, uncompensated – board of directors, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has started to pony up to the bigwigs again. Both local dailies give the move Page One play, but the similarities pretty much end there.
Boston Globe front page:
Two years after bowing to its critics and suspending five-figure annual pay for directors, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is reinstating the compensation — though at reduced levels and to fewer board members.
The state’s largest health insurance carrier will pay part-time board members who chair committees a maximum of $54,500. That is down from the $78,60 [sic] before the public outcry over how much directors were paid at nonprofit insurers regulated as public charities. Blue Cross will pay other directors no more than $47,000, down from $58,600 in 2011.
Despite the reductions, Blue Cross board members will remain among the best compensated directors at any nonprofit health plan in the state.
Blue Cross board members attend up to five full board meetings a year, a strategic planning session, and about eight committee meetings, executives said.
That’s a lotta dough for not much show.
Which led the Boston Herald to front-page this:
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has quietly resumed paying its part-time, politically wired board of directors tens of thousands of dollars a year, sneaking the cash back into their pockets two years after Attorney General Martha Coakley publicly pushed health care nonprofits to end the outrageous payouts.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield spokesman Jay McQuaide confirmed last night that the board’s 17 members are back on the payroll — the result of a vote they took at a December meeting. McQuaide did not specify their pay but said it has been cut by an average of 25 percent. Directors were previously paid from $60,000 to $90,000 a year.
Pretty different top number from the Globe’s, but why get technical about it.
The Herald also drops different – and better – names than the Globe, which lists the new directors and ex-directors. The Herald has all the usual suspects:
The Blue Cross board’s 17-member roster is packed with powerbrokers from just about every arena in the state. Among them, Blue Cross CEO Andrew Dreyfus, chairman William Van Faasen, Massachusetts AFL-CIO vice president George R. Alcott III, Massachusetts Teachers Association President Paul Toner, former Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman Philip Johnston, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce chief Paul Guzzi, Bentley University president Gloria Larson, Simmons College president Helen G. Drinan, former Suffolk District Attorney and current Northeastern University general counsel Ralph C. Martin and Benaree Wiley, former head of The Partnership.
Finally, no surprise, the feisty local tabloid remembers to pat itself on the back:
A series of Herald stories in 2011 exposed the exorbitant pay and lavish perks to the nonprofit’s board of local powerbrokers. The series came after the board voted to give departing CEO Cleve Killingsworth an $11 million golden parachute after the health insurer posted a $149 million loss.
That would explain this on Page One:
Say it with me: I celebrate myself and sing myself and yak yak yak.