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Feb 24, 2000
CONTACT: Jamie Court - 310-392-0522 x327
Consumer Group Calls On Aetna Shareholders Not To Fire CEO;
Huber Called Secret Weapon For HMO Patients' Rights MovementThe Foundation For Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) distributed a letter to Aetna shareholders today at their meeting in Hartford, Connecticut retracting its February 9, 1999 request that CEO Richard Huber be fired,
The letter from FTCR Advocacy Director Jamie Court states, "Huber is the best weapon we have to bolster the case for patients' rights."
The letter continues, "Mr. Huber has served the cause of patients' rights with distinction.
o Last February, Mr. Huber expressed contempt for Teresa Goodrich, the widow of cancer patient David Goodrich. Following a $120 million verdict against Aetna for the handling of Goodrich's case, Mr. Huber responded to the verdict with outrageous arrogance and utter disregard for the civil justice system and the family: "This is a travesty of justice. You had a skillful ambulance-chasing lawyer, a politically motivated judge and a weeping window." (The Hartford Courant, January 22, 1999). The brazen statements offered valuable insight into the indifference at Aetna toward patients' suffering, were condemned in the Congressional Record, and helped prompt the United States House of Representatives last autumn to pass the strongest patients' bill of rights in history with bi-partisan support.
o With superlative hubris, Mr. Huber declared of the 1999 Aetna-Prudential merger, "Texas is the filet mignon of the deal." The Justice Department was sufficiently provoked to force Aetna to divest of 800,000 members in Texas before completing the deal.
o Only Richard Huber could have revolutionized the conservative American Medical Association (AMA). Because of Huber's indifference to AMA concerns about Aetna's contracts with doctors, the AMA is now a firm ally in the patients' rights campaign in Congress, even at the expense of traditional AMA/insurance lobby issues like compensation caps on medical negligence cases. Thanks to Huber, the AMA, is even in support of physician unionization, a taboo topic for the Association five years ago.
o Recently, Mr. Huber's "take it or leave it" stance on reducing payments to hospitals in New Jersey has driven the hospital industry into the fold of the patients' rights movement.
If Mr. Huber were to be dismissed, we would sorely miss him."
FTCR is a non-profit, non-partisan consumer group. www.consumerwatchdog.org.
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