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PNHP RESOURCES

Physicians challenge WellPoint on disclosure of political spending

‘Healthcare dollars should be spent on patients, not political campaigns’

Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan (www.hchp.info)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2012

Contact:
Rob Stone, M.D., Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan (HCHP, www.hchp.info), PNHP, (812) 369-6414
Karen Green Stone, HCHP, (812) 333-8085, grostone@gmail.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Two nationally prominent physicians will attend the annual shareholders meeting of giant health insurer WellPoint this week to introduce a resolution requiring the company to disclose the full extent of its political spending, stressing that such money would be better spent on patient care.

Rob Stone, M.D., director of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan (HCHP), and Quentin Young, M.D., national coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), will attend the WellPoint shareholders meeting at the Hilton Hotel on Wednesday, May 16, at 8 a.m. to introduce the measure. Following the meeting, they will hold a press conference on Monument Circle, across from WellPoint’s world headquarters, 120 Monument Circle, downtown Indianapolis, at 9:15 a.m.

Dr. Stone, of Bloomington, who has been described in the Indianapolis Business Journal as “a cheery thorn in the side of WellPoint Inc.,” will be formally presenting the shareholder resolution on behalf of California-based Harrington Investments calling for the company to be more transparent in reporting its political contributions and expenditures.

Harrington Investments filed the resolution because they seek “to close the gaping holes that have appeared in WellPoint’s political disclosure since the company reneged on a 2007 agreement with the Sisters of Mercy,” according to a company statement.

Dr. Young, of Chicago, has long been a leader in public health policy and social justice issues. During the Vietnam War, in his role as national chairman of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, he obtained shares in the Dow Chemical Co. to challenge the company’s manufacture of napalm, thus initiating the modern era of shareholder activism.

As has been widely reported in the national media, WellPoint has been a financial supporter of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It has also provided direct support for legislation to limit collective bargaining by labor unions. Furthermore, WellPoint has been linked with an $86 million secret transfer of money from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to fund attack ads against the congressional bill that eventually became the Affordable Care Act.

“These reports raise concerns since the company has millions of policyholders whose health insurance coverage is through collective bargaining agreements, and the public position of the company has been support for healthcare reform,” said Dr. Stone. “Moreover, healthcare dollars should be spent on patients, not political campaigns.”

Physicians for a National Health Program holds that private health insurance companies like WellPoint sell a defective product, and that one of their most damaging effects on the healthcare marketplace is to price millions of Americans out of the market, leaving over 50 million uninsured.

Protests by other groups are being planned for 8 a.m. outside the shareholder meeting at the Hilton Hotel, 120 W. Market St.

There will be photo opportunities: physicians in lab coats, banners and signs. Press kits will be available with background information and supporting statements for follow-up questions.

Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan is a chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program (www.pnhp.org), an organization of 18,000 doctors who advocate for single-payer national health insurance, an improved Medicare for all.