Socialized Medicine in America: Public hospital CEO got severance 3 years before he retiredConservatives like to claim The United States has a private medical system. But nearly every county in America has one or more public hospitals owned by the government and often staffed by union workers. These Government hospitals are backed by taxpayer funds and compete directly with private hospitals.
A Salinas public hospital district, already under fire for granting its outgoing chief executive $3.9 million in retirement payments, also gave him nearly $1 million as part of an unusual severance agreement.
The Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System board gave Samuel Downing a cash payment of $947,594 in 2008, according to a hospital report on his compensation. The money came from a special severance fund set aside for when Downing ended his employment with the agency. But the board decided to award him the money while he was still CEO.
He will also be paid a regular pension of $150,000 a year. He earned about $670,000 in base salary during his final years of employment, along with other benefits such as a car allowance and paid time off.
"The board did an excellent job. They made sure we had competitive salaries," said Downing.
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