Health care CFOs see recession lasting through year, but some pay raises safe — MedCity morning read, May 5, 2009

Eight in 10 financial chiefs at health care organizations surveyed expect the worst recession since the Great Depression to keep its hold on the U.S. economy through the end of the year. But only 43 percent of health care CFOs see cutting pay raises as a way to save money this year.

Eight in 10 financial chiefs at health care organizations surveyed by audit, tax and advisory firm Grant Thornton expect the worst recession since the Great Depression to keep its hold on the U.S. economy through the end of the year.

Sixty-percent of the health care CFOs expect to do less business travel this year to cut costs, the survey found. However, financial leaders at health care organizations are less likely to cut pay raises — only 43 percent — compared with 65 percent of CFOs at a broad range of companies nationwide, Grant Thornton found. 

“Of all the industries health care appears to have bucked the trend of cutting raises this year, as a way to cut costs,” Anne McGeorge, managing partner of Grant Thornton’s health care practice, said in her firm’s release of health care survey results.

Health care CFOs in health care represent the only industry group in which less than 50 percent of executives said they would cut pay raises this year to save money. At the high end of the industry scale, 74 percent of finance chiefs at real estate companies said they would cut raises, followed by 71 percent of financial leaders at manufacturers and 70 percent of those at technology companies.

The health care survey findings come with a serious disclaimer: Grant Thornton surveyed only 37 chief financial officers and controllers at both public and private companies in the U.S. health care industry in late March and early April.

The tiny number of respondents leads to questions about the meaningfulness of the survey results. But at five years old, Grant Thornton said its Survey of Senior Financial Officials is the longest-running survey of its kind.

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 “Recession Lane” photograph by flickr user Zen Traveler.