$1,500 ? just for showing up!
Mar 02, 2013 (Boston Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts' newly resurrected and highly controversial payout program for its board of directors includes a $1,500 bonus for any member who shows up at a meeting -- and a $500 check just for calling in by phone.
All told, the plan -- which the insurer called "modest" -- could cost more than $800,000 this year alone. Blue Cross Blue Shield had suspended director pay in March 2011, amid public outcry over an $11 million severance package to a CEO who resigned abruptly after the nonprofit posted a cat-astrophic $149 million loss.
"It's a little shocking that it took two years to come up with a plan to go back to the future," said state Sen. Mark C. Montigny (D-New Bedford), who has fought against such pay plans for years. "We have decided as a state to allow the delivery of health care, including insurance, through a not-for-profit charity. Most people, reasonable people, would say volunteers on the board of a charity should not be compensated."
The pay program breaks down as follows:
--A flat $80,000 stipend for chairman William Van Faasen
--$30,000 for each of 16 other board members
--$7,500 extra for members who chair any of the board's five committees
--$1,500 more for attending any of six full board meetings in person; $500 if by phone
--$1,000 added on for attending committee meetings; $500 if by phone.
In a statement yesterday, the company defended shelling out cash to the board: "After careful consideration, the Board has approved a new modest compensation program for Directors effective January 1, 2013. The new program is designed to ensure BCBSMA is able to attract and retain highly qualified directors to help the company achieve its long-term goals."
The Blue Cross board is packed with politically active movers and shakers, including Blue Cross CEO Andrew Dreyfus, Mass-achusetts AFL-CIO Vice President George R. Alcott III, Massachusetts Teachers Association President Paul Toner, former state 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 County District Attorney and current Northeastern University general counsel Ralph C. Martin and Benaree Wiley, former head of The Partnership Inc.
All but Toner failed to respond to requests for comment by the Herald.
Toner, who joined the board nine months ago, said he is donating his pay to charity. He declined to provide details, other than to say the charities are located in Cambridge and Boston.
He defended reinstating pay, and said he doesn't fault any directors who pocket the cash.
"They do put a lot of time into preparing for the meetings and going over all the materials," he said. "People bring a high degree of their business and health care experience to the meetings, to help Blue Cross Blue Shield operate a high-functioning organization."
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