More big bonuses for CEOs, premiums rise

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Yesterday, I went off about CEOs getting lottery-size severance pay for screwing up. Today, I'd like to share an article from The Los Angeles Times about CEOs in the health care industry and the whopping bonuses they "earned" while, at the same time, raising our premium rates.

Here's a peek:

The top executives at the nation's five largest for-profit health insurance companies pulled in nearly $200 million in compensation last year — while their businesses prepared to hit ratepayers with double-digit premium increases, according to a new analysis conducted by healthcare activists.

The leaders of Cigna Corp., Humana Inc., UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint Inc. each in effect received raises in 2009, the report concluded, based on an analysis of company reports filed with the Security and Exchange Commission.

H. Edward Hanway, former chief executive of Philadelphia-based Cigna, topped the list of high-paid executives, thanks to a retirement package worth $110.9 million. Cigna paid Hanway and his successor, David Cordani, a total of $136.3 million last year.

Only one executive in the list actually saw his paycheck shrink last year: Ron Williams, the CEO of Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna Inc., earned nearly $18.2 million in total compensation, down from $24.4 million in 2008.

"Most families are struggling to hang on. Employers are struggling to stay in business. And these guys were giving themselves huge raises," said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, a coalition of advocacy groups that prepared the report.

A spokeswoman for WellPoint said executives' compensation reflects their effort to improve care and hit corporate goals. Representatives of the other four insurers either declined to comment Tuesday on the report or did not respond to questions.

The executive packages were calculated by adding base salaries, bonuses, stock awards and other compensation reported on company financial statements. It did not include the value of exercised stock options.

Read the rest of this article, by Noam N. Levey, here.

I don't know about you, but this comes across as a giant load of bullshit to me and, frankly, I don't want to hear one more health care industry CEO whine about health care reform while they continue to line their pockets with more money than you and I may ever make — even including an unlikely lottery win.

Same goes for politicians, like Sue Myrick and Richard Burr, who vote against health care reform — which helps us — while accepting money from health care companies.

Check this out from Insurance Reform Watch:

As the debate about health insurance reform continues, a new analysis shows a wide disparity in the amount of campaign donations members of Congress from North Carolina have received from healthcare providers, drug makers, and the insurance industry.

The state’s two U.S. Senators and 13 members of the House of Representatives have received a total of $5.2 million from individuals and political action committees (PACs) related to insurance and healthcare services in the past three election cycles (covering 2003-2008), according our analysis of data compiled from the Center for Responsive Politics and the Federal Elections Commission. Here are some highlights from the table of contributions:

Sen. Richard Burr (R-Winston-Salem) leads the NC list by far, with $1,674,101 or almost three times the $630,949 raised by number two, Rep. Sue Myrick (R-Charlotte). Burr and Myrick both oppose the health reform proposals of Democratic leaders in the Senate and House.

Sen. Burr is the national leader for campaign money received from the pharmaceutical industry. His $420,782 total for 2003-2008 beat all U.S. House and Senate candidates. Burr has been a strong ally of the industry; he opposed bills to require Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs (e.g., votes on March 17, 2005 and April 18, 2007) and a bill to provide incentives for Medicaid recipients to use generics instead of brand-name drugs (Nov. 3, 2005).

The health and insurance sector is the largest source of campaign funds for Sen. Burr’s career in the Senate, supplying 15 percent of all his donations that could be classified by industry sector for 2003-2008. He collected most of the money during his 2004 race, when he raised four times as much from the healthcare/insurance sector as his opponent, Erskine Bowles.

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-Greensboro) raised $217,208 from the healthcare/insurance sector for her 2008 campaign, or less than a third of the $786,712 that her opponent, then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole, raised during 2007-08. Hagan voted for the Democrats’ reform proposal in a key Senate committee earlier this summer. Healthcare/insurance money represents less than four percent of the contributions she collected that could be classified by industry sector.

Rep. Sue Myrick led the list of House members from NC with $630,949. She led other House members in the most raised from health professionals and drug makers. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) followed Myrick for funds from health professionals, raising $187,348.

Read more about how much our state's representatives accepted from the health care industry here.

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