By Peter Rugh 3 hours ago

What is a not-for-profit corporation doing with nearly $200 million in offshore holdings? That's a question thousands of nurses who are preparing to go on strike, together with their patients, might want answered.

The nation's largest home-care provider, Visiting Nurse Services (VNS), is locked in a battle with the nurses over their contract. VNS wants to make dramatic cuts to employee benefits because management claims the company is $70 million in debt. However, a close look at its tax returns tells a much different story.

Last week, the United Federation of Teachers, which represents the caregivers, notified VNS of plans to walk out when their contract expires on February 1, unless an eleventh hour deal is struck. The central issue is attempts by VNS to eliminate nurses' health care and pensions, according to sources briefed at an emergency union meeting.

"I don't want to go on strike," said one nurse speaking on the condition of anonymity, since her current contract forbids her from speaking to the press. "I've got bills to pay, a kid to raise. But I also don't want my daughter to lose her health insurance."

Management has explained to staff that VNS is $70 million in debt and cuts are necessary. But a review of the company's tax returns indicates that VNS has hundreds of millions of dollars stored offshore.

In 2011, the most recent year figures were available, the not-for-profit corporation had $177,992,056 in Central American and Caribbean investments. That same year, the filings show that the company's then-CEO, Carol Raphael, took in more than $1.1 million in total compensation.