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NEWS RELEASE
Feb 11, 1999


CONTACT: Jamie Court - 310-392-0522 x327

Congressman Stark Questions In Congressional Record Whether CEO Huber Should Head Aetna

Ranking Democrat On Ways & Means Health Committee Wants Hearings
California Congressman Pete Stark, the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives Ways and Means Sub-Committee on Health, questioned, in Wednesday's Congressional record, whether Aetna CEO Richard Huber should lead the nation's largest HMO.

Stark was responding to Huber's recent public statements attacking a widow of an HMO victim. Consumers For Quality Care called Tuesday on Congress for hearings and suspension of Aetna's government contracts over Aetna's attempts to mislead Congress about the facts of the landmark Goodrich vs. Aetna case, which resulted in a $120 million verdict against the company. Stark will push for hearings on the matter.

"Is this really the kind of CEO we would want as head of the nation's largest health insurance company?" Stark stated in a section of the February 10th Congressional record headed "What Aetna Isn't Telling You About The Goodrich Case." Printed in the record also is Consumers For Quality Care's letter to Aetna's Board of Directors calling for the firing of Huber; the consumer group's letter to Congress regarding the case; and a point-by-point refutation of Aetna's statement to Congress about the case based on the court record.

Aetna recently sent a statement to Congress distorting the facts of the case, in which a San Bernardino jury issued a $120 million rebuke of the HMO's conduct toward District Attorney David Goodrich. Goodrich died of stomach cancer after a two and one half year ordeal trying to get Aetna to approve cancer treatment recommended by his Aetna doctors. Huber responded in the Hartford Courant to the verdict: "This is a travesty of justice. You had a skillful ambulance-chasing lawyer, a politically motivated judge and a weeping widow." Later, a Los Angeles Times columnist reported, "he [Huber] expanded his complaints, telling me that juries are customarily not intelligent enough to consider complicated contractual issues and that this one in particular was too ill-informed, as a result of the judge's evidentiary rulings, to render a sound verdict."

Consumers for Quality Care is a national health care watchdog group that is a project of the The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights --- a tax-exempt, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing and protecting the interests of consumers and taxpayers.

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