New Jersey and federal lawmakers are pushing for more regulation after a report that the chief executive officer of New Jersey's largest health insurer was compensated nearly $9 million last year while premiums increased.
The package of pay and bonuses for William Marino, CEO of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, was up 59 percent.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) called for constraints on the nonprofit health-care company.
"It is outrageous, unfair, and shameful that a nonprofit health-care executive would receive such a massive payout while increasing premiums and other costs on everyday people," Lautenberg said in a statement Friday.
He said he was considering introducing legislation to impose oversight on the nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield companies across the country.
Horizon covers just over half the state's small businesses and nearly three-fourths of people who have individual health insurance policies.
The reaction from officials began after the Asbury Park Press reported the compensation figures Monday.
According to a filing with the state's Banking and Insurance Department, Marino drew a salary of nearly $935,000 and bonuses of $7.8 million last year.
Pay and bonuses to the company's nine highest-paid executives last year totaled $24.3 million, up from $15.1 million the previous year.
The company says Marino's pay package included $3.9 million that was deferred from previous years. The company says he has declined raises and bonuses repeatedly since 2005.
On its website this week, Horizon posted a "news alert" that said the newspaper had ignored that Marino had turned down raises. The insurer also said the newspaper had failed to note that his pay would have been lower in 2009 than the previous year if not for the deferred payments and that the salary is set by an outside compensation committee to be in line with those of top officials at other firms.
In a separate statement, company spokesman Daniel Emmer said Friday that a state study in 2008 found the company's executive compensation to be below market level for peer companies.
That has not deterred elected officials from criticizing the company, which has at times flirted with becoming a for-profit operation.
On Wednesday, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) called for hearings into executive pay at Horizon.
Company spokesman Thomas Rubino said that while the company filed notice to become a publicly traded, for-profit company in 2008, it stopped working on its application last year and has not resumed working on it.