RBGG founding partner Michael Bien provided commentary for an article published on December 11, 2012 that is part of a Businessweek series on the high cost of state payrolls, “California pyschiatrists paid $400,000 shows bidding war.” Also included on the Businessweek website is a video interview of Bien.
According to the article, “The 2007 bidding war for psychiatrists in California took a human toll,” said Michael Bien, a lawyer for prison inmates who successfully sued California over mental-health care. A mental hospital drained of such specialists was the scene of two suicides within three months of the salary increases at prisons. The state settled a lawsuit filed by one family for $975,000 without admitting liability.
Management failings by state officials were to blame, Bien said. While the salary increases that enticed psychiatrists to leave mental hospitals for higher-paying prison jobs were court- ordered, it was the state that determined who would get pay raises and created the disparity, according to Bien and a Jan. 30, 2007, report filed by Michael Keating, a court-appointed monitor of the prison mental-health system.”
“What they did was tremendously disruptive to the department of mental health,” Bien said. “Why would anyone not take a salary increase of 50 percent or more?”