Top New York hospital executives received an average bonus of about $273,000 in 2020 while leading health systems that secured billions of dollars in federal pandemic bailouts.
These are among the findings of a USA Today Network investigation into the biggest payouts to hospital executives and doctors in New York during the pandemic’s darkest days.
As frontline hospital workers persevered amid unsafe conditions and taxpayer-funded emergency COVID-19 relief flowed to hospitals and other health facilities, more than 250 top hospital officials across the state reaped about $73 million in total bonuses in 2020 alone, federal records revealed.
Read the investigation here: As COVID raged in New York hospitals, executives pocketed $73M in bonuses
Among the investigation’s findings:
Meanwhile, advocates voiced concerns that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, in 2020 allowed hospitals to provide six- and seven-figure bonuses to executives, in spite of lawmakers’ assurances the money was needed to help shore up patient care.
Labor union leaders asserted the executive payouts offered a stark contrast to experiences of frontline workers. They noted nurses faced shortages of personal protective gear while battling for hazard pay, raises and other recognition of their pandemic sacrifices.
Hospital trade groups countered that the executive payouts were a necessity of American medicine, as New York health systems competed to attract and retain executives capable of leading complex organizations that employ thousands and never close.
As part of the reporting, the USA TODAY Network created an online database that allows people to search for the highest-paid executives and doctors at local hospitals and regional health systems.
That transparency tool and other findings, such as infographics detailing the top-10 highest paid executives and payout totals by health systems, are available through the subscriber exclusive published in USA TODAY Network.
All New York hospitals are nonprofits under state law, as opposed to some other states that allow for-profit hospitals.
As a result, New York hospitals are granted tax exemptions similar to other nonprofits, which are required to detail their finances, including executive compensation, in federal tax records.
The USA TODAY Network reviewed thousands of pages of federal tax records to reveal and compare the highest-paid New York hospital officials.
But comparing the 2020 payouts to prior years is difficult because some tax filings for hospitals and health systems had yet to be released as of early August, while regulators and health providers worked through pandemic-era record backlogs. Some of the filings also only covered part of 2020 due to fiscal practices at some hospitals.
Still, the USA TODAY Network’s analysis of 2020 records for a diverse sampling of 40-plus hospitals and health systems from across the state suggested the payouts were comparable to, if not exceeding, the amounts paid between 2016 and 2019.

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