Jews' pay is less than his predecessor's

October 30, 1994|By Jay Hancock | Jay Hancock,Sun Staff Writer

William L. Jews, president and chief executive of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland, earned $474,179 in total compensation for the nine months that he worked for the company last year, according to a document filed with state regulators.

L That works out to about $52,686 a month, or $632,000 a year.

Mr. Jews' compensation was disclosed to the state Insurance Administration last summer and obtained by The Sun under the Maryland Public Information Act. The salary wasn't broken down by base pay, bonus, car allowance and so forth.

Executive pay at Blue Cross became controversial after it was disclosed that Carl J. Sardegna, Mr. Jews' predecessor, earned nearly $900,000 annually. Some legislators said the amount was excessive, especially at a time when Blue Cross was struggling financially.

Mr. Jews was hired in April 1993. Frank A. Gunther Jr., chairman of Blue Cross of Maryland, said the insurer's board is sensitive to the salary issue and decided to pay its new chief less than the median CEO compensation at Blue Cross plans of similar size.

"We didn't go as high as we could have under our own guidelines," Mr. Gunther said.

Iris Shaffer, spokeswoman for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association in Chicago, was unable to say how Mr. Jews' pay ranks among managers of the nation's 69 Blue plans. CEOs at some plans earn in the low six figures, she said. Others make more than $1 million.

With $1.95 billion in revenue last year, Blue Cross of Maryland is one of the larger Blue plans and one of the biggest companies in the state. But it's not nearly as big as, say, Blue plans in New York or California.

Mr. Jews' pay is not out of line with salaries at similar-sized insurers, said Jesse Cantrill, a compensation expert with the Hay Group, a consulting firm in Washington.

Among publicly traded, for-profit Maryland companies, 32 top bosses earned more than Mr. Jews last year, according to regulatory filings -- including some at much smaller firms. For example, Timothy F. Finley, earned $2.7 million last year as chairman and CEO of Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., which had $147 million in revenue.

Mr. Jews earlier this year suggested to the board that he $H deserved more. Mr. Gunther said his reply was: "You've only been here a year and a half, or a year at that time, and we've got to be careful. We don't want to cause problems and so forth."

Mr. Jews acknowledged in an interview that previous publicity made the issue sensitive. But he added: "I have probably taken on a charge to, quote, 'turn this plan around' that is a little more onerous than somebody walking into a plan that's in different circumstances."

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