As well-heeled hospital CEOs plan to gather for three days of golf, lavish receptions and networking at one the state’s most luxurious resorts on the Cape, a new survey of the state’s doctors finds that most doctors (58%) have seen these executives cut valuable patient care services in order to increase profits, and 7 in 10 believe that greater transparency of hospital finances would help protect funding for needed services.
By the same margin, doctors support a bill and ballot measure, HB 3844, The Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act, which requires disclosure of profit margins, executive compensation and money in offshore accounts by hospitals that accept public funding (most hospitals receive more than half their funding from taxpayer subsidies via Medicare and Medicaid and other government sources), and establishes a fund to protect needed services for poorer communities.
Nurses and advocates who support this initiative are gathering the 11,000 signatures needed to place the initiative on the ballot in November. They have already gathered more than 90,000 signatures back in the fall. The legislature is in the process of considering a budget that would increase funding for hospitals. Lawmakers have until July 2 to act on HB 3844, which would ensure they have a complete picture of hospital finances. An earlier survey of RNs in the state also found that 75 percent of nurses support this measure.
“Hospitals that serve predominantly poor patients are struggling to survive and recently one of them, North Adams Regional Hospital, closed while large hospital corporations are generating enormous profits, paying their CEOs millions and stashing millions more in Cayman Island accounts,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United. “This initiative will help ensure that taxpayer dollars are used to improve patient care and patient’s access to needed services.”
For example, Partners Health Care posted profits in excess of $350 million last fiscal year, yet attempted to close its medical detox unit at Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital, while also closing a pediatric unit at Cooley Dickinson Hospital over the strong objections of local pediatricians in the community.
The survey of physicians was conducted in late May by Anderson Robbins Research, an independent research firm headquartered in Boston, and included 100 doctors who regularly care for patients in Massachusetts hospitals. Respondents were randomly selected from a file of all licensed physicians in the state and then screened to identify only physicians who currently practice medicine in a hospital setting.
The Hospital Profit Transparency & Fairness Act (H3844) will guarantee taxpayers the right to know exactly how their health care dollars are spent by hospital administrators. The transparency act requires that hospitals receiving tax subsidies disclose in a timely and fully transparent manner how large their profit margins are, how much money they hold in offshore accounts, and how much compensation they pay their CEOs. To ensure access to needed services by all patients, the act also provides for enhanced funding options for hospitals serving poorer populations.