The state’s largest health insurer will once again pay its part-time board members, this time up to $54,500 for some, despite continued criticism of the practice, Robert Weisman reports in today’s Boston Globe.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts halted payments in March 2011, facing intense scrutiny of the fees paid to board members and $11 million in compensation and severance paid to the nonprofit’s departing leader.
Current chief executive Andrew Dreyfus said the board pay is necessary to attract the best candidates and that the insurer is taking steps to add to the board’s health care expertise. Not all agreed with the decision, Weisman writes:
“Voluntary service by board members is a hallmark of charitable organizations.”
Paying directors creates conflicts of interest, Coakley said, and the money could be put to better use in an organization classified as a charity.
Board members attend up to about 14 meetings a year, including five full board meetings. Deirdre Cummings, legislative director for Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, told Weisman that paying the part-time board members what for many people would be a full-time wage “seems excessive.”
Dreyfus said in 2011 that the suspension of board pay could be temporary. Weisman wrote at that time:
“There’s a basic dissonance between what the community expects of us as a not-for-profit public charity and what we have to do in order to be successful and compete often with national for-profit insurance companies,’’ he said. For instance, he said, Blue Cross vies with national insurers for big business accounts and executive hires.
The insurer issued refunds to policyholders in late 2011 totaling the amount of the severance package paid to former executive Cleve L. Killingsworth and announced that it would not seek to change its designation as nonprofit.Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.