Nonprofit health systems executives get big pay days for retirement [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 26--Chief executive officers and other top executives at nonprofit health systems don't get stock options or grants -- the increasingly well-traveled road to riches in the for-profit corporate world. But they generally get retirement packages that can result in large payouts.
Ford Titus, the former chief executive of ProHealth Care, received $4.5 million when he retired in 2010. William Petasnick, the former chief executive of Froedtert Health, received $4.9 million in 2012.
The retirement plans -- the most common is known as a SERP, for Supplemental Employment Retirement Plan -- provide top executives with pensions more in line with their salaries and bonuses.
Internal Revenue Service regulations cap traditional, or defined-benefit, pensions at $255,000 this year. The supplemental plans bring the executives' pensions closer to what they would receive if the cap didn't exist.
The plans can help retain key executives, because the potential payout is forfeited if an executive leaves before the plans vest.
The payouts also are double-counted. The money set aside for the retirement plan is reported as part of an executive's total pay each year -- and, under new regulations, reported again when paid out.
Those new regulations also require nonprofit health systems to provide more information on how they compensate their top executives.
When Ed Howe, Aurora's chief executive, retired in 2007, his retirement package was not publicly disclosed.
In contrast, when Donald Nestor, Aurora's chief operating officer, retired in January 2009, the health system disclosed that he was paid $8.2 million that year. An estimated $6.4 million of that came from his retirement plan. The balance came from his continuing work as a consultant and other compensation.
He was paid an additional $5.3 million in 2010 and then $1.6 million in 2011 as a "consultant/retiree."
In all, Nestor was paid a bit more than $15 million after retiring -- and he was the No. 2 executive.
How much of that was from his retirement plan and not his consulting contract isn't explained in the forms that health systems must file with the IRS. Even with the new regulations, nonprofit health systems often disclose less information on what they pay their top executives than for-profit public companies.
An executive also can get a payout from his or her retirement plan before retiring.
Nicholas Desien, the current chief executive of Ministry Health Care, which is based in Milwaukee and operates hospitals in northern Wisconsin, was paid $4.1 million in the health system's 2010 fiscal year. But that included a payment of almost $2.8 million from his retirement plan. He received a final payment of $731,141 in the 2011 fiscal year.
And John Oliverio, who is still the chief executive of Wheaton Franciscan, was paid almost $3.8 million in 2008. But that included $2.5 million in compensation reported in previous years that was paid out after the health system ended its Supplemental Employment Retirement Plan.
The money that in the past would have gone into the retirement plan is now paid to Wheaton Franciscan's top executives each year as "other compensation."
(c)2013 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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