News & Events

Mass. experts: ‘It’s a hard sell’

View Boston Herald article here


By Joe Dwinell
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A hybrid designation that might allow Blue Cross Blue Shield to remain a public charity but keep the compensation they pay top executives beyond public scrutiny does not exist in Massachusetts, legal experts said.

Some complicated public-private combination for the $13 billion non-profit may also need the blessing of the attorney general, they added. The common choices are to go for-profit, stay a charity or morph into a mutual insurance company.

“It’s a hard sell. They want all the benefits of a public charity but none of the burdens,” one lawyer said. “I don’t see a hybrid that works for them … and there isn’t one in Massachusetts with the latitude they seek.”

Doling out an $11 million golden parachute to former CEO Cleve L. Killingsworth and paying 18 board members up to $90,000 annually was a “public relations disaster” that would be compounded by upending the business model, the experts said.

The Blue Cross board announced yesterday they are probing if they should switch their charity classification.

“As long as there are conflicting expectations about who we are and how we should behave, we will continue to have questions about compensation and other business practices,” the board stated yesterday.