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Catholic Investors Want Health Companies to Disclose Executive Pay

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, December 2, 2009

U.S. health, drug, insurance, and biotech companies should publicly disclose their executive pay packages, say 30 primarily Catholic investor groups in charge of about $100 billion in investment capital. The groups say those executives' pay is so high that it is raising the national cost of healthcare.

Among the 21 publicly traded companies "are many leading opponents of Congressional action on healthcare reform," according to a statement from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), which filed the resolution.

The ICCR members include Catholic Healthcare East and numerous orders of religious nuns, including the Sisters of Charity, Sisters of the Holy Cross, Sisters of Mercy, Benedictine Sisters and Sisters of St. Francis from various regions of the country, and the Basilian Fathers of Toronto. Two of the groups, the Socially Responsible Investment Coalition of San Antonio and the Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, are run by Catholics, but include Protestants and non-Christian investors, says Laura Berry, ICCR executive director.

The groups targeted in the plea for public disclosure are: Aetna, AIG, Allstate, Amerisource Bergen, Amgen, Cardinal Health, Cigna, Coventry Health, General Electric, Humana, Lilly & Co., Lincoln National, McKesson, Medco Health Solutions, Medtronic, Stryker, The Travelers Corporation, 3M, UnitedHealth Group, UNUM Group, and Wellpoint.

The ICCR coalition also asked that these companies disclose the benefit packages they provide to their lowest-paid workers.

Representatives from many of the 21 organizations being asked to disclose the information were asked to comment, but did not respond by deadline.

"Shareholders, the government, citizens, and investors are increasingly concerned about seemingly out of control growth in compensation packages for top executives at U.S. corporations, including those in the health industry," Berry said in a statement.

"When the causes of skyrocketing healthcare costs are examined, this growth in health industry compensation is clearly a factor."

To make matters worse, Berry continued, many employers have shifted a greater share of the overall health costs onto employees and their families, making those workers bear an increasing burden of higher premiums, higher deductibles, and more in out-of-pocket expenses. "These packages often reveal an accelerating pay gap between highest and lowest paid employees," she said.

Capuchin Rev. Michael H. Crosby, coordinator of the Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota Coalition for Responsible Investment and a member of ICCR's Health Care Working Group, said, "Pay disparity is an important issue because costs in the market-based health industry have been much higher than other industries. Insurance companies and medical systems companies have been highlighted as among the most aggressive in challenging healthcare reform efforts."

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