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Read Making a Killing

home / healthcare / in the media

Sacramento Bee
Feb 27, 2000

by Jeanne Fisher

Business Insider-- Aetna CEO Gets Critic In His Corner

Consumer activist Jamie Court's view of managed care companies isn't ambiguous. He is, after all, the author of "Making a Killing: HMOs and the Threat to Your Health."

So it might come as a surprise that Court's Santa Monica-based group, The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, last week distributed a letter to Aetna U.S. Healthcare shareholders, urging them not to dump Aetna's outspoken CEO Richard Huber. Huber has come under fire over the past year, blamed for a series of class-action lawsuits that have helped drive down the company's stock price.

Court's group had earlier sent a letter urging that Huber be fired as chief executive of the nation's largest health insurance company. The change of heart apparently came from the revelation that Huber provides the foundation, whose cause celebre is patients' rights, with plenty of prime ammunition.

"If Mr. Huber were to be dismissed, we would sorely miss him," Court wrote in his Feb. 25 letter.

To wit: Last February, Huber called a $120 million judgment against Aetna in favor of the widow of cancer patient David Goodrich a "travesty of justice" and indicated the lawsuit was a well-packaged farce cooked up by an "ambulance-chasing lawyer" and a "weeping widow."

"Huber is the best weapon we have to bolster the case for patients' rights," the letter stated.

Aetna shareholders were unpersuaded: On Friday the company dropped Huber and replaced him with long-time Aetna board member and Wall Street veteran William Donaldson.

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