Lawmakers not satisfied with Blue Cross' salary data Senators say they sought 1995 figures but got 1994's


A state senator has accused Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland of failing to comply with a request to disclose the recent pay levels of board members and top executives.

Responding to an inquiry several weeks ago from Sen. George W. Della Jr., a Baltimore Democrat, Blue Cross supplied the the Senate Finance Committee with salary information yesterday. But the figures were from 1994 and don't show what company officers are making this year.

"That doesn't do it," Mr. Della said. "I asked for current" information.

In the legislative session starting in January, the General Assembly will consider a major restructuring being planned by Blue Cross, Maryland's biggest health insurer.

But Blue Cross officials said the 1995 pay figures won't be available to legislators until an unspecified date next year.

Salary bonuses for 1995 won't be calculated until 1996, said Fran Tracy, the company's vice president for government affairs.

And if Blue Cross were to publish projections of base salaries for this year, "I'm afraid that we would be putting out misinformation rather than accurate information," because the pay could change, said spokeswoman Deb Nielsen.

Blue Cross salaries have been a perennial issue in the General Assembly, which grants the non-profit company millions of dollars in annual state-tax breaks. Carl J. Sardegna, a former Blue Cross president, earned $850,193 in 1991. The compensation package, worth more than twice the average pay at the time for Blue Cross chiefs, was deemed excessive by many legislators.

Blue Cross subsequently cut the pay for its top officer. William L. Jews, its president and chief executive, had total compensation of $636,236 in 1994, the company said.

But the Senate Finance Committee wants to know what he and other executives are making now.

Blue Cross may ask the Assembly and Insurance Commissioner Dwight K. Bartlett III to approve a sale of stock to the public, among other major changes.

Legislators should have up-to-date pay figures before they consider a new setup for Blue Cross, a member of the Senate Finance Committee said.

"I can't see what good information from the past would be," said Sen. John C. Astle, an Anne Arundel Democrat. "It's a snapshot in time from the past and [Mr. Della] is looking at what we're dealing with right now."

Blue Cross' Ms. Tracy said the senators' expectation that they would receive 1995 data is "simply a misunderstanding in terms of what is currently available."

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