Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why can the City hire its hospital boss for so much less ?

In my posting of September 25, I reported on the salary of LICH president Rita Battles, approximately $700,000. I did have figures at the time for the presidents of other private (non-profit) hospitals in the area, and found that of Ms. Battles to be on the low side.

But I did not have the figure for the chief executive of New York City's Health and Hospitals Corporation, Mr. Alan D. Aviles, who oversees a far larger complex of hospital facilities than does Ms. Battles. Here is NYCHHC's own job description for Mr. Aviles:

Alan D. Aviles is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the largest municipal healthcare system in the nation. Mr. Aviles was appointed by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in February 2005 to lead the 38,000 employees of this $5.4 billion corporation, which includes 11 acute care facilities, four nursing homes, six large diagnostic and treatment centers, more than 80 community-based clinics, a large home care agency, and a Medicaid managed care plan with more than 250,000 enrollees. Last year, HHC facilities served 1.3 million New Yorkers that reflect the diversity of this global city – including nearly 400,000 uninsured.

Unlike the non-profit private groups, HHC does not file IRS disclosure forms that show top salaries. And unlike "direct" government departments, HHC, a public corporation, does not show its salaries in public directories like New York City's famous Green Book. I found that I could get HHC salary figures only by filing a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. This I did, about two months ago, and today I received the information I requested.

The salary of Mr. Aviles is currently $291,192. And remember, Mr. Aviles's responsibilities are far more extensive than those of Ms. Battles.

In my view, the relatively modest salaries paid to public servants like Mr. Aviles calls into question the necessity -- the appropriateness, if you will -- of the much higher sums paid at non-profit facilities like LICH. The current crisis in health care costs is one of the most pressing public issues in the country. Perhaps our public officials could look at the contrast between Ms. Battles and Mr. Aviles as pointing to one way of alleviating the crisis.

A biography of Mr. Aviles, with an outline of his background, is given in the NYCHHC site. That of Ms. Battles may be consulted on the LICH site.

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