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Hospitals fight rule to list pay

Posting docs’ salary damaging, critics say

– Indiana county hospitals are seeking an exemption from a requirement that they make the salaries of doctors and staff public, saying doing so puts them at a disadvantage with their private counterparts.

State law requires that salaries of public employees be made public. They can be accessed through the Indiana Gateway for Government Units.

But the Indiana Hospital Association says publishing doctors’ salaries is different from posting the pay of city council members because it gives private competitors access to internal information.

“We consider this an interpretation, a poor interpretation, of what a county hospital is,” said Spence Grover, vice president of the association.

“It’s been a thorn for some of the county hospitals for some time.”

Though county hospitals were created by county government, few, if any, receive property tax money.

“We’re county hospitals because it took an act of the county to form us,” Grover said.

“A county hospital can function on its own.”

But the State Board of Accounts requires compensation data for every unit of government in Indiana.

Even so, less than half the county hospitals in Indiana filed compensation disclosure forms with the state.

Paul Joyce, state examiner with the Board of Accounts, said he wants to see 100 percent compliance.

He also wants to ensure that the law is interpreted and applied the same way to all public hospitals.

But because few, if any, county hospitals receive taxpayer money, the state is powerless to enforce the rules.

Other units of government can have their appropriations withheld if they fail to file the compensation forms.

Joyce said that puts the State Board of Accounts in an awkward position. Legislation would be needed to create a new means of enforcing the law.

“How,” Joyce asked, “do you hold them accountable?”

Joyce said he and the board plan to review their options before the next compensation reports are due in January.