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Nurses and Patient Advocates Testified at State House Hearing Today on Hospital Profit Transparency & Fairness Act

Nurses and health care advocates tesitied at a hearing today before the Massachusetts Health Care Financing Committee on the Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act (S656/H602). Co-sponsored by State Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury) and State Rep. Josh Cutler (D-Duxbury), the measure will require hospitals to be transparent about their financial holdings and claw back excessive profits and funds spent on exorbitant CEO compensation to ensure taxpayer dollars are instead dedicated to safe patient care and necessary services for all communities in the Commonwealth.

Most hospitals in Massachusetts receive at least half their revenues from tax dollars, including Medicare, Medicaid,  taxpayer funded grants, loans, subsidies and waivers on local, state and federal taxes. Yet legislators and voters have NO idea about the nature and scope of hospital financial holdings, including how much money hospitals store in offshore accounts or why hospitals don’t keep their excess funds in Massachusetts’ banks. At the same time, Hospital CEOs in our state are paid excessive salary packages that bear no relationship to the quality of care and patient outcomes like readmission rates and infection rates, where our hospitals rank among the worst in the nation.

When hospitals like North Adams Regional Hospital and Quincy Medical Center are closed while at the same time other hospitals are closing pediatric and psychiatric units, as well as other services, policy makers have the right to know if tax dollars are being spent to benefit patients or hospital CEOs.

This bill would require hospitals to be fully transparent about their financial holdings and other activities, assess any hospital receiving taxpayer dollars that has an annual operating profit margin above a specific, predetermined cap and assess any hospital receiving taxpayer dollars that provides a compensation package for its CEO that is greater than 100 times that of the hospital’s lowest paid employee.  These assessments would be deposited in a newly created Medicaid Reimbursement Fund to provide enhanced funding options for hospitals serving poorer populations.

“We know that every major network in the state, including Baystate Health, Partners, Lahey, and Beth Israel have accounts in the Cayman Islands yet they are not required to report how much money is in those accounts,” said Donna Kelly Williams, RN,  president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which filed the bill.  “Taxpayers have a right to know how much of their money is sitting in an offshore bank account- especially if those taxpayers live in a community that has just lost a hospital or needed service.  This initiative will allow policy makers and the public to better understand the true financial picture of the state’s health care providers and what they are doing with those resources.”

Advocates provided legislators with a list of hospitals with funds stored in offshore accounts and will urge legislators to demand greater transparency by passing the HPTFA. To identify hospitals with offshore accounts in your area, see the full listing that appears below.