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Hospital officials are California's top-paid public employees. Does that make sense?

Talk back LA

In the wake of the Bell salary scandal, state Controller John Chiang created a database showing public employee salaries. The database has grown and now includes compensation figures for all employees of California cities and counties and many of its special districts.

Three hospital district executives have emerged as among the highest-paid public employees in California, according to the database, including an official in San Diego County who made more than $1 million in 2009.

Hospitals The salary survey comes after public outrage over the high compensation of some city officials, including former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo, who was set to earn more than $1.5 million in 2010. The Times also found that Vernon's onetime city administrator, Eric T. Fresch, earned $1.65 million in 2008.

But hospital officials and their advocates tell The Times' Sam Allen that it's important to put the salaries of the hospital directors in context, given the complexity of their jobs and the fact that they are in great demand in the private sector. "You've got to look at what the market demands," said Jim Lott, executive vice president of the Hospital Assn. of Southern California. "This is not your typical government job; a hospital CEO in the public sector is extremely sought after."

What do you think? Share your thoughts below.

Comments () | Archives (25)

Why not? Hospitals are extremely complex entities and the people who run them often have a decade or more of high level management experience and they often will have high level Masters or Doctorate degrees. These are people who could make substantially more in the private industry.

First of all, no government employee should be making more money than the President of the United States. His salary is $400,000 per year, is there any position on the planet that should pay more for "public service, I don't think so!

These are "public service" positions, not private sector for profit companies. You can not equate the pay, the responsiblity, and the benefits. At the end of the day the American taxpayer pays them and I can tell you from my own health care management experiences, all of them are over paid. I could walk into almost everyone of these facilities and find problems that don't get addressed and yet the pay and bonus still go to them.

There is a second dynamic at work here, the lie that "we need to pay them more to attract the best"......that is a lie. You can hire many good and experienced Hospital Administrators for less. Not a one of these persons should be making more than $200,000 a year. If they don't like it, go find one of those "private jobs".

I doubt seriously that any of them have reduced cost and efficiency that would warrant a $350,000 bonus. There are other dynamics at work within the frame work of these "boards".

My recommendation is for everyone one of them to take a major pay cut, reduce their staffs and become efficient and responsible. I believe it is irresponsible behavior that has lead to these salaries. The same is true for the salary of the UCLA/Cal football coaches and basketball coaches.

By the way, why has the LA Times not run a report on GE not paying any taxes on $14 billion in profits?

No, of course it doesn't make sense!

In a perfect world, teachers would be our highest paid public employees. Then medical and sanitation workers.

It is worth noting that healthcare pay rates are in part high because they pay monstrous amounts in insurance due to the plethora of frivolous lawsuits.

Public employee pigs bellying up to the taxpayer trough. Disgusting!

No person working for any government entity deserves to make over $200k. No mayor, supervisor, congressperson, senator, or president. And, outside of those jobs listed, no person working for the government should make over $80k per year. These people "working" for government (better described as the "public dole") are a net drain on the economy and government finances. Sure, they pay taxes, like everyone else. However, everyone else's income is not taken from public coffers, but is stolen from taxpayers, children, students, old people and indigent (who lose funding to pay for government "workers").

And, having worked with many departments of the state, county, and federal governments, most of those employed by government have proven to be slow (literally & figuratively), bad managers, aimless, and absolutely clueless. The worst I experienced was managers for hte Oakland School District, and the California Parole Department. Total and complete incompetents, who wouldn't last a fortnight in the private sector, where value versus output is considered.

No, they don't deserve it. Not at all. Someone else made this awesome point: the president of the United States doesn't even make that much, and his job is a LOT harder than some arrogant hospital CEO. *No government worker* should make $1 million unless they actually make a substantial worldwide and critical difference.

I hope this guy gets fired, and fast. I hope all of them get fired. Nothing justifies this pay for some gov't worker.

Michael E should be on the LA Times editorial board. However, I differ with his opinion about making comparisons with the President's salary. The governor of California earns less than $174,000, so why should any California public servant earn more than that?

"executive vice president of the Hospital Assn. of Southern California. "This is not your typical government job; a hospital CEO in the public sector is extremely sought after." --I was on OK with it, till I read this statement. Now, I'm thinking these parasites should get the boot.

They are absolutely over paid. Their colleagues in the Private Sector are over paid and many of their subordinates are over paid in the public and private sectors. That is one of the reasons why health care costs are through the roof duh. Is it any surprise that the 3 top wage earners administrate relatively small hospital districts. Shades of Bell where small city corruption flies under the radar.

How do figure that these public-sector salaries "pale" by comparison to private industry when the they make $100M when you add their insider trading deals, company stock options and golden parachute retirement plans (even if fired) into the equation? Meg Whitman is a prime example of eggregious wealth acquired through private industry. She has already earned back her campaign expenditures with her holdings and investments.

It is irresponsibility that has led to this! And now we expect California government, heck American government, to go backwards. It will never happen. There's no reason a hospital director's salary should ever have gone this high, but unfortunately I sincerely doubt we can get them to go backwards. It's just like Wall Street, why should a Financial Engineer for CitiGroup or AIG or Goldman Sachs make $2 million per year, when a real Engineer who actually makes something like buildings, bridges, cities, makes $90k.

a million dollars?
im surprised they paid themselves so little

ABSOLUTLEY NOT!!! I am sure there are tons of qualified people who would do this job at a fraction of the cost.

NO NO NO NO on ANY new taxes until this corruption, theft and greed are fixed...and I am mean TOTALLY FIXED!!!

@ Michael E, you are being short-sighted. By any analysis, POTUS is making too little. To compare all other public service salaries to POTUS is poor analysis.

Having unqualified people running expensive and complex healthcare facilities would only waste MORE public money. Just because certain taxpayers are too cheap to pay for necessary services is not a reason to cut their pay.

The president of the US makes $400,000 a year. This just tells me that hospital CEOs are overpaid, and it helps explain why my hospital bills are absurdly high. Ever hear of public service, folks?

The going rate for Hospital CEOs in the United States is $100,000 per 100 beds.

So to make a million you should be supervising a 1,000 bed institution.

These are just pigs feeding on the tax payer.

In addition, in the real world hospital CEOs can get canned for non performance

Absolutely the salaries are appropriate. What is true is that:

1. The level of risk, complexity and responsibility as compared to other industries is abnormally high, and
2. Compared to similar positions in other industries, the salaries are actually undersized.

The average hospital CEO in this country is about 3 years.

The big problem with most of the folks in this comments section is that they don't have a clue about the healthcare industry, how it compares with other industries or pay equity at the C-level. They don't make much money, therefore, no one else should.

How many nurse practitioners and p.a.s could be hired for what this guy rakes in? Mr. Obama, could the health care reform package include something about gouging? Please?

Compensation for hospital CEOs absolutely reflects the size and the complexity of their jobs. Hospitals are both major employers and providers of care to every person who needs it - 24/7. They are like no other operation. They are complex human environments that deal with life and death situations every day. As someone who works in the hospital community, I can tell you first-hand that being a hospital CEO is one of the most demanding jobs in any community. These experienced leaders must manage the safe delivery of care to patients, wade through onerous federal and state regulations, maintain a diverse workforce, and constantly budget for the most technologically advanced equipment and services. We need these top leaders for their skills and expertise.

Silly me. I'd always assumed there were salary levels or a "salary system" for so-called public employees. Who knew management draws pay like the private sector. There are bright people out there capable of handling those top positions with equal skill. Let's not hold those hospital administrators back, set them free to get "what they're worth" in the marketplace.

And just why is a hospital executive in the public sector so sought after? And just what is so complex about their jobs? It is only because hospitals have become so profit oriented that they are even close to requiring the same sort of skills as a CEO of a service company with the same number of employees. And the patient has to suffer because of profits.

Oh and this article was about public sector hospitals so the profit motive shuoldn't even be and issue.

Those salaries are ridiculous.

These people are making more than the President of the US. His job is difficult; theirs is not.

This pay scale is just a ripoff by the medical types.

Is this the only area of abuse? I think not. Just the tip of the iceberg.

Don't forget their pensions that = their salaries. Unbelievable. Millions a year for life at taxpayer expense. Nice!


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