By George Capsis
Oh wow—I was surprised when I heard Northwell’s CEO Michael Dowling, with his thatched hut Irish brogue, boasting about Northwell’s purchase of a successful chain of storefront doctor’s offices, with one right on 8th Street just a couple blocks from the massive “overbite” building on 7th Avenue and 12th Street. I realized that although a hospital may be non-profit, with insane costs for health care, automatic government payments, and outrageous prices for drugs, billions and billions of dollars pulse through its accounting office. So, why not use some of the splashing cash to buy hot medical companies and stock in promising drugs as we approach the cure for cancer.
Yet, it was with bemused shock that I read in the New York Times of the prestigious Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center calling in its VP for making these kinds of investments because he stood to make $1.4 million personal profit. Kettering employees and board members could sit on both the hospital board and the drug company board and buy the drugs that would make personal millions for themselves. That VP Gregory Raskin was on the boards of both Sloan Kettering and the drug company they were investing in just may have clouded his objectivity a bit.
I recalled this article while in Dr. Ronald Brancaccio’s office on Perry Street as he aired what must be a familiar complaint among doctors—which is that hospital administrators make more money than they do. Here it is: $584,000 for an insurance chief executive, $386,000 for a hospital CEO and $237,000 for a hospital administrator, compared with $306,000 for a surgeon and $185,000 for a general doctor.
Dr. Brancaccio conspiratorially gave me a sample vial of back itch lotion which he said costs $200 or more. (I have to get around to doing an article on Danish socialized medicine).