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Aetna Share Holders Meeting Protest

Action Date: 
20 May 2011

Action United joined with our allies Penn Action and the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, who are all working under the umbrella of Health Care for America Now.  We couldn't all get into the shareholder meeting that Aetna held to ask questions, but we could unite to demand answers from Aetna, one of the country’s largest insurers, about why they continue to fight consumer protections and undermine the law in ways that hurt people like us.

Video of us inside the shareholders meeting:

Aetna’s not fighting to stop the health care law because the company is facing financial hardship. Quite the contrary! After all, Aetna collected over $34 billion in revenue in 2010 alone. The company ranks 77th on the Fortune 500 list, with 18.4 million customers and very well paid CEOs. In fact, over the last 10 years, Aetna’s spent over $151 million on CEO compensation alone.

Ron Williams, the Aetna CEO who retired in November, collected  $20,730,968 in total compensation plus he sold off $55,558,189 of AET shares in 2010 and 2011, bringing his golden parachute haul to $76,289,157. He appears to have an additional 147,000 shares of unknown value that were granted to him under the company incentive plan, and he has not yet cashed those in. At today's price, those are worth $6.7 million — that’s just walkin' around money and doesn’t even include his pension plan.

Aetna doesn’t just spend money on good pay packages for CEO, they also devote a good portion of their revenue to maintaining their high profits by hiring lobbyists to make sure Congress keeps paving the road for those profits.

Since 2008, Aetna has invested $13,248,330 in payments to federal lobbyists to fight against the Affordable Care Act which forces the company to use 80-85% of premium dollars on actual medical care instead of profits and which will create much greater scrutiny and accountability for premium hikes. From 1989-2010, Aetna spent over $6,000,000 in political contributions to buy seats in Congress that will ensure that they are well represented in the legislative process.

We can see now how those investments have paid off as we watch the Republicans in Congress try to roll back not just consumer protections in the ACA, but actively work to dismantle Medicaid and Medicare so that even seniors and people with disabilities would be forced to buy insurance on the private market from companies like Aetna that will squeeze as much profit as they can from even the sickest people so they can keep those corporate CEO salaries soaring.

We came to say “enough is enough!” It’s time for Aetna and the rest of the country’s fat-cat CEOs to answer some tough questions for a change and it’s time to tell the truth.

It’s time for Aetna to stop spending our premium dollars on golden parachutes for CEOs and to start respecting the law rather than lobbying to circumvent rules that protect their customers from the price-gouging and abuse that we’ve faced for years.

We need health care that works for everyone, not just for the big companies and their rich CEOs. We need a country that works for the middle class, small business owner, seniors, children and working families not just for the big oil, big banks and big insurance companies that can afford to buy their own Congressional representatives. It’s up to us to take back our country and we came to let Aetna know they can’t stop us.

Video of us outside the shareholders meeting:

Action United For the common good