Daily Rounds: Multimillion Pay For Hospital Execs; Insurers Earnings Plunge; BuckyBall Backlash; Medicare Heats Up

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Highest Paid Mass. Hospital Executives (The Boston Globe) — "Chief executives for the Boston-area’s largest hospitals mostly earned pay packages between $1 million and $3 million in 2010, and several received bonuses for attracting more patients, improving care, or simply by agreeing to take the job. Several large academic medical centers changed leaders during 2010, making it difficult to compare salaries from prior years. In at least two cases — Boston Children’s Hospital and Tufts Medical Center — hospitals awarded their top executives sizeable increases. Nonprofit hospitals were required to report their 2010 financial information, including executive salaries, to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office on Wednesday....Gary Gottlieb, Partners HealthCare chief executive Total compensation: $3.1 million...Gary Gottlieb, who took the position at the start of 2010, earned $3.1 million in total compensation, including $1.5 million in salary and bonuses. Of that total, $1.5 million was for previously reported retirement benefits that became vested in 2010."

Health Insurers Earnings Plunge For Second Quarter (Boston.Com) — "Massachusetts health insurers, under sustained pressure from small business customers and the Patrick administration to hold down premium increases, Wednesday posted sharply lower earnings for the second quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Net income in the three months ending June 30 plunged 49.9 percent at the state’s largest health insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. The drop was even steeper for the state’s other major health plans — 56.3 percent at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, 93.6 percent at Tufts Health Plan, and 68.4 percent at Fallon Community Health Plan."

For BuckyBall Toys, Child Safety Is A Growing Concern (The New York Times) — "In the meantime, Mr. Zucker has started an aggressive public campaign to win support for Buckyballs. Using the cheeky slogan “Save Our Balls,” his company has taken out newspaper ads in Washington, directed at President Obama and lawmakers, and stoked a campaign on social media Web sites like Facebook and Twitter. In doing so, Mr. Zucker has found enthusiastic support from those who believe the Obama administration has pushed regulation too far. “When an adult, a 28-year-old, can’t buy this for their desk, then this agency has run amok,” said Mr. Zucker. “This is government gone absurd.” There were an estimated 1,700 incidents of rare-earth magnets being swallowed and requiring emergency room care, in some cases surgery, in the three years beginning in January 2009, according to the safety commission."

U.S. Voters See Medicare As Top Election Issue: Poll (Reuters) — "Medicare has become a top healthcare issue in the U.S. presidential election, surpassing the controversy over President Barack Obama's healthcare law, according to a poll conducted just as Republican Mitt Romney pushed the issue to the forefront of the campaign with his choice of running mate...The nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation said on Thursday that 73 percent of respondents polled in the days around the announcement described Medicare as "very important" or "extremely important" to their votes. That included large majorities of Democrats, independents and Republicans."

This program aired on August 17, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.