JANESVILLE

Mercyhealth CEO Javon Bea’s pay rose 4 percent in 2016 to $8.38 million, according to federal tax documents.

Mercy is a tax-exempt nonprofit agency, but Bea’s pay is an outlier compared to any other nonprofit group in Rock County.

Even in Wisconsin, there appeared to be no other nonprofit hospital CEO paid more than Bea. The second-highest pay for a nonprofit health care CEO with operations in Wisconsin was for SSM Health CEO William Thompson, who earned $6.65 million in 2015, up from $5.5 million in 2014, according to tax filings.

St. Louis-based SSM runs SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Janesville, one of a number of health care facilities it operates in the Midwest.

For a local comparison, a related Gazette review of local nonprofit agency leadership pay identified social service agencies and nonprofits with budget sizes that range from about $500,000 to $10 million. Most of the agency leaders who earned top salaries in Rock County were paid about $100,000.

In 2009, when Bea earned a click over $3.5 million, his pay was more than 10 times the amount paid to even the highest-paid nonprofit leaders in Rock County.

In the local not-for-profit health care sector, there isn’t much to compare Bea’s pay to, either. Beloit Health System CEO Timothy McKevett earned $559,000 in total pay in 2015, according to tax filings.

Between 2014 and 2015, Bea’s pay vaulted 53 percent, from $5.26 million to just over $8 million. That pay increase came after Mercy merged with Rockford Health System in 2014 and solidified a plan to build a new $485 million hospital in Rockford, Illinois.

In 2011, Bea defended his pay in interviews with The Gazette, saying his multimillion-dollar payday had no impact on health care costs.

In an interview with The Gazette in March 2017, longtime Mercyhealth volunteer board Chairman Rollie McClellan said Bea’s 2015 pay of just over $8 million was “eye-opening, for sure,” but he insisted Bea’s pay increase from the year earlier was far from automatic.

McClellan said earlier this year Bea’s pay is “at risk” every year based on Bea’s performance, and McClellan said he knows of no not-for-profit health care group the size of Mercy with a CEO who wears as many hats as Bea.

Bea in 2015 was CEO and chief operating officer of five hospitals, and he’s essentially the CEO and chief operating officer over hundreds of physicians. He’s also CEO of Mercyhealth’s insurance arm.

The explanation is similar, if on a larger scale, to how YMCA of Northern Rock County’s board Chairman Jason Engledow justified the $271,000 the Y paid its CEO, Tom Den Boer, in 2015. Den Boer, Engledow said, handles a bundle of major executive duties in addition to his work as the YMCA’s CEO.

Last week, after The Gazette obtained documents for Bea’s 2016 pay—the most recent tax year available—The Gazette again asked Mercy officials about Bea’s paycheck but received no response.

The Gazette reached McClellan at his home late last week, but McClellan declined to comment on Bea’s 2016 pay. Mercyhealth’s communications office did not immediately respond to a Gazette inquiry.

Bea’s pay has not escaped the attention of national media outlets. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal singled out Bea’s payday as being an outlier for nonprofit hospital groups. The Wall Street Journal reported Bea’s pay jumped out during a months-long analysis by the paper of thousands of nonprofits.

And earlier this year, the Rochester, Minnesota, Post-Bulletin newspaper also reported Bea’s payday from 2015. Bea has a home and other major real estate holdings in the Rochester area, according to the Post-Bulletin.

Rochester is home to the well-known Mayo Clinic and John Noseworthy, Mayo’s CEO.

For his work at the helm of the Mayo Clinic, tax filings show Noseworthy in 2015 was paid $2.52 million.

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