California Health Care Firm Ponies Up Pension Funding

December 3, 2008 ( - The board of directors of a Northern California health-care system have decided to fully fund the company's pension even if it costs as much as a half a billion dollars.

A news report in the Central Valley Business Times said the board’s decided to make the move recently to plug in an additional $255 million to the $245 million already authorized to keep the Sutter Health Retirement Plan properly funded despite the faltering investment markets.

“One of Sutter Health’s longstanding traditions has been to distinguish our organizations not only through a commitment to clinical quality, but by being employers of choice,” Sutter Health Board Chairman Jim Gray, told the newspaper. “Now, more than ever, employees need to feel secure about their futures, and we are pleased to be able to make this level of investment.”

Gray pointed out that the plan was fully funded going into the economic downturn and that the company’s conservative investing philosophy helped its current funding position.

“Other organizations whose pension plans were in bad shape at the start of the mid-year economic decline and those that have traditionally pursued more aggressive investment strategies are facing particularly difficult pension challenges,” he said.