Herald: Member Defends Blue Cross Board; Says AG Meeting On Payout Soon

The Boston Herald nabbed a member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield board at the State House today, and — well done! — actually managed to get his response to widespread outrage at the $11 million payout to former CEO Cleve Killngsworth and disclosures of hefty "stipends" to board members — stipends that look an awful lot like a generous year's salary. Hillary Chabot reports here:

Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Robert J. Haynes defended his $72,700-a-year salary as a board member for Blue Cross Blue Shield today — saying it doesn’t jack up premiums as public outrage continues over an $11 million golden parachute for the healthcare giant’s former CEO.

“The cost of health insurance is not affected very much. It’s about $1 million that board members get paid, with $13 billion in revenue it’s like pennies a year,” said Haynes, who said he’ll continue to take his salary until a committee made up of Attorney General Martha Coakley and Blue Cross Blue Shield officials weigh in on the issue.

“I want to sit with the board. I want to talk to Martha Coakley. I want to put a community together to talk about whether or not that’s a reasonable thing to do,” said Haynes, who said Coakley and the health care company are going to meet in the next couple of days to put together a committee to explore health care compensation for board members and executives.

The story is bringing the expectable outpouring of hostility from readers on the Herald's Website; a couple of the gentler comments say that Haynes is trying to justify an unjustifiable position and "incest knows no bounds."

The Herald reports here and here on the high salaries that go to health insurance board members and executives, and points out the contradiction with their public statements about the need to cut health care costs. Other Blue Cross board members have remained mum on the board's financial decisions, despite public demand for explanation.

This program aired on March 7, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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