News & Events

Herald Sept 4 2009 AG Martha Coakley eyes pay of health-insurer directors

Some prominent Bostonians who make big bucks serving on the boards of health insurance companies may lose that income if Attorney General and U.S. Senate hopeful Martha Coakley has her way.

This week, as Coakley announced plans to possibly spike some of the eye-popping salaries earned by executives of insurance companies and area hospitals, she also started asking why the nonprofit health insurance20companies pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to the often politically wired people who serve on their boards of directors.

Here in Massachusetts, most nonprofit entities, including hospitals, do not pay their directors.

“Voluntary service is the hallmark of virtually all our charitable boards,” Coakley said in a statement. “When boards depart from this traditional approach, it is incumbent upon them to fully explain to the public the basis for such a decision.”

Her targets include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts directors Paul Guzzi, Gloria Larson and Ralph C. Martin II, all of whom were paid more than $60,000 in 2008 to serve on the insurance company’s board.

Guzzi runs the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Larson runs Bentley University, and Martin, a former Suffolk County district attorney, is a partner at the law firm Bingham McCutchen.

It is not clear why the state’s charitable health insurance providers – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan and Tufts Health Plan and Fallon Community Health Plan – pay the people who serve on the board of directors.

Yesterday, representatives for Guzzi, Larson and Martin referred questions to Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesman Jay McQuaide, who said the insurer is “looking forward=E 2 to working with Coakley.

“In her report, the attorney general made clear that she wants to better understand how the four local health plans compensate their directors, and we are looking forward to working with the Attorney General to explain why we did that,” he said.