CBS Inaccuracies and The Truth

By Paul Wood

CBS aired a one-sided investigative report yesterday on CBS This Morning that failed to verify information regarding UPMC’s contributions to the community and was full of misinformation and distortions. Here’s a look at what CBS reported and what’s the truth:

CBS reported that “2 percent of UPMC’s budget is spent on charity care."
TRUTH: Our community benefits actually represent about 12 percent of our net patient revenue. We provided more than $238 million in uncompensated care and charity care in Fiscal Year 2012.

CBS reported that UPMC corporate headquarters occupies “one of the most expensive office spaces in the city.”
TRUTH: UPMC began moving its corporate/administrative functions downtown in 2008 at the urging, ironically, of Mayor Ravenstahl to help revitalize downtown. It is less expensive for UPMC to rent office space downtown than it was in Oakland, UPMC’s former corporate headquarters. Moving downtown also allowed UPMC to free up much-needed space for our clinical services in Oakland for which there is increasing demand. It makes perfect economic and practical sense for UPMC headquarters to be located where it is today.

CBS reported that “some of UPMC’s profits are used to improve its facilities.”
TRUTH: UPMC re-invests more than $500 million each year into its clinical facilities, clinical infrastructure and clinical technology – all toward providing outstanding patient care, which even CBS' story acknowledges as being “top 10” in the country.

CBS reported that “while nonprofits are required by the IRS to serve the community, UPMC has closed hospitals in poor neighborhoods and opened new hospitals in lucrative neighborhoods.”
TRUTH:
•UPMC consistently year after year goes above and beyond IRS requirements to serve many diverse communities. Our Fiscal Year 2012 Community Benefits Report explains.
•UPMC Braddock hospital was closed several years ago because it was grossly under-utilized.  In order for a hospital to be sustained, it must be utilized. Today, UPMC continues to provide a myriad of appropriate outpatient services to the Braddock community.
•We opened UPMC East last summer to fulfill a growing need in the eastern suburbs. Before we opened UPMC East, an average of 90 patients a day were making the long drive from the eastern suburbs to UPMC hospitals in Oakland and Shadyside. Not even a year after its opening, UPMC East is increasingly thriving with an average daily census today of 120 (of 156 licensed beds), even more than anticipated.   

CBS reported that our CEO, with total compensation of $6 million, “makes more than any other CEO at a nonprofit health organization in the country.”
TRUTH: Our CEO does have a total compensation of $6 million. However, the CEO of Pittsburgh’s West Penn Allegheny Health System, Christopher Olivia, made more than UPMC’s CEO in each of the past two years and he left the failing, mismanaged health system in bankruptcy. And Pittsburgh-based Highmark paid its three CEOs more than $6 million. Many top hospital CEOs in places like New York, Chicago and elsewhere make more.

CBS reported that our “CEO has access to a personal chef, chauffeur and private jet.”
TRUTH: There’s no personal chef or chauffeur. UPMC leases a jet for medical, international and business development purposes. This jet is reserved for efficient travel by our clinical and executive leaders of our international clinical and business operations.