RALEIGH, N.C.(WNCN) — A new report from the state treasurer’s office shows North Carolina hospital CEOs have seen their salaries increase by more than 100 percent over the past 10 years.
The North Carolina Department of the State Treasurer published a report titled “Hospital Executive Compensation: A Decade of Growing Wage Inequity Across Nonprofit Hospitals.”
In it, Treasurer Dale Folwell’s office says Atrium, Mission, Novant, UNC, Vidant, Duke, Cone, WakeMed, and Wake Forest Baptist Health paid $1.75 billion to their top executives from 2010 to 2021. The report says nonprofit hospital CEOs doubled their paychecks in five years or less.
“While their patients suffered, they continued to laugh all the way to the bank,” Folwell told reporters Tuesday.
Folwell’s office took aim at Atrium Health CEO Gene Woods whose salary rose by 473 percent over six years, and Mission Health CEO Ronald Paulus’ whose salary rose by 726 percent in less than a decade, according to his report.
“These executives are incented to raise profits — not raise quality or access or lower cost to those that they’re responsible for serving,” Folwell said.
In 2020, Folwell’s office says the average CEO took home $3.4 million. The office says the numbers show a disparity in wages for those at the top.
“Hospital system leaders asserted they were in dire straits in 2020 as they collected $1.5 billion of the taxpayer-funded coronavirus relief meant for struggling hospitals. Many promised executive pay cuts. But in stark contrast, CEOs took home an average $3.4 million across North Carolina’s largest nonprofit hospital systems in 2020,” the report states.
While people at the top are expected to get paid at higher rates, Folwell’s office says frontline clinical workers are not seeing pay raises for them go up at the same.
Nationwide, from 2010 to 2019:
- Family medicine physicians’ wages rose 22.7%
- Registered nurses’ wages rose 14.8%
Folwell’s report says UNC Health did not respond to a public records request for compensation data until two days before the publication of the study. Folwell said the request was made almost three months ago.
The report says while the largest nonprofit hospital systems received $1.8 billion in tax breaks in 2020. Only WakeMed Health equaled the value of its tax exemption with charity care spending.
UNC Health told CBS 17, it “receives a significant number of records requests, and these are fulfilled in the order in which they are received. The Treasurer requested a great deal of information going back 10 years, and did not provide any deadline or explain how the data would be used. Some of this information was in human resources systems no longer in use. UNC Health supplied every data point requested after vetting the data to ensure its accuracy.”
In response to critiques of executive salary, “We regularly conduct internal and external compensation studies for our 40,000 teammates to ensure we remain a competitive employer of choice, and we are proud of our efforts that resulted in no furloughs or layoffs, and incentive bonuses for all of our teammates during the pandemic.”
A statement from Duke Health said, “Executive salaries are appropriate within the market and for the complexity and size of the Duke University Health System enterprise.”
Atrium Health said in part in a statement, “Over the course of 2022, we are proud to have invested over $138 million into our deserving teammates, beyond their previous or regular salaries. This included base-pay increases, market adjustments, and other awards. Over the last two months, we have invested an additional $271 million in base-pay increases and incentives. Additionally, with a commitment to every community we serve, Atrium Health provided $2.46 billion last year in free and uncompensated care and other community benefits.”