SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — St. Clare’s Hospital had issues funding its pension far before it notified pensioners, according to the former deputy commissioner for the State Office of Health Systems Management.
James Clyne was involved in the negotiations when the Berger Commission consolidated healthcare across New York more than ten years ago.
He says the pension was underfunded back when he met with the Catholic hospital administrators in 2008.
In November, more than 1,100 former employees learned their pensions would either be reduced or not paid out at all.
Clyne says when the hospital was closing, the Catholic Diocese maintained they had no legal financial obligation to the hospital or the pensioners.
A decade later, the church is maintaining the same thing even though the St. Clare’s Corporation board is comprised of several Catholic priests and the bishop.
He believes someone will need to decide legally if the diocese or the state is at all liable for the pension fund running dry years before pensioners were told it would.
Mary DeTurris Poust, Director of Communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, sent NEWS10 ABC the following statement:
“As Mr. Clyne admits, he and other members of the Berger Commission were, in 2006, aware that St. Clare’s pension was, at that point, “clearly underfunded,” which certainly indicates that the commission and the state, in forcing the closure of St. Clare’s, had actual knowledge and oversight of the inability of that fund to recover. While the Diocese of Albany was never involved in the governance and operation of St. Clare’s Hospital or St. Clare’s Corporation, including its assets, liabilities and pension plan, Bishop Scharfenberger, as a board member, continues to work with pensioners, legislators and other interested parties who want to come together to find a solution to this very difficult situation. Many of them have called for the state to join this effort because of its role in the hospital closing and its pension woes.”