Howard Kern

And Is He Offering A Similar Deal to Top Execs at Potential Merger Partner Cone Health?

We received an anonymous tip on Friday asserting Sentara CEO Howard Kern is guaranteed his compensation of several million dollars a year for life. And, the tipster asserts, Kern is offering a similar deal to top executives at Cone Health, the North Carolina not-for-profit Kern wants to merge with in an $11.5 billion deal.

As we’ve previously reported, Sentara announced a $11.5 billion merger with Cone Health in August 2020. Sentara CEO Howard Kern would lead the combined health care chains. Kern’s total compensation in 2018 was $5,750,022.

To achieve the merger, C&BP sources say Kern is angling to keep the profitable EVMS Medical Group, from which it draws a profitable caseload stream. Reportedly, Sentara also wants to keep access to the low-cost highly skilled EVMS residents for which it receives funding from Medicare and profits annually.

At the same time, Kern is pushing for EVMS’s medical school be combined with Old Dominion University, a public institution. This would effectively offload EVMS’s operating costs onto Virginia taxpayers.

If the tip is accurate, this seems like an incredible deal for a nonprofit health care system to provide its top executive. Our initial research failed to turn up any similar arrangements at other nonprofit health care systems.

Readers, we welcome any thoughts or information you have on Kern’s compensation package or how common it is in among nonprofit health care institutions. We will reach out to Sentara for comment.

As always, we will let you know what we find.


Do you have information to share? Send us a note through our confidential tip line.


Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists, and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.


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