Reporting Jay Levine
CHICAGO (CBS) — What would you call state employees retiring on pensions of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, only to be rehired and paid by the same university hospital while their pension payments continued?
Some might call them “Double Dipping Docs.”
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine, working with the Better Government Association, reports how they get away with it and where to find them.
The University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine is the largest medical school in the nation. Its doctors teach, do research and care for underserved inner city patients.
It’s a good hospital, doing good work. But good work doesn’t come cheap. 14 of the state’s top 25 pension recipients worked here before retiring with pensions of over $250,000 a year. At least seven of them have been hired back, at salaries of up to a $100,000 in addition to those pension payments.
“The university has a strict policy on the rehiring of retired employees and that requires exceptional circumstances and a clear and compelling interest to the university,” said Bill Burton, UIC News Bureau Director. “Many of these individual practice, teach, do research in areas and specialties that have national shortages of top people.”
“It’s not fair to taxpayers to have to pay for double dipping which is what this is,” said BGA Investigator Andy Shaw. “If you want to collect the pension you shouldn’t be able to go back to work at another government job at taxpayer’s expense.
Like Dr Tapas Dasgupta did. The former chairman of surgical oncology at UIC, who is now 79, retired in June of 2008.
His annual pension: 426,885.48. But UIC, after waiting the required 60 days, hired him back, as a part time professor and surgeon, making $81,000 a year.
Dasgupta declined CBS 2’s request for an interview, but he did tell the BGA, “I know the state is broke,” “We have to do something. But don’t make the retirees out to be villains. We played by the rules.”
Rules which apparently worked for him and others, making Dr. Tapas Das Gupta $426,000, Dr. Edward Abraham, $414,000, Dr. Riad Barmada, $397,000, Dr. Mahmood Mafee $370,000 and on and on.
Far more than limited reforms passed by the state legislature now permit. With pensions already capped for new employees, while current employees could soon see a 113 thousand dollar pension limit as well.
“It’s fine if they want to pay a doctor $400,000 to do his doctor’s job. It’s not fine to give him a $400,000 pension,” said Andy Shaw. “These salaries are the poster children for the pension crisis in Illinois.
Paid by a State University Retirement System which like the other state employee pension funds is about to collapse under the weight of unfunded liabilities.
But in this case, the extra hundred thousand or so for the “not really retired doc,” just adds insult to injury.