Director's collapse shortens WellPoint annual meeting
Bush admitted to hospital in abbreviated event;
'Say on Pay' wins shareholders' approval
WellPoint Chairwoman and Chief
Executive Officer Angela Braly faced an intense barrage of criticism and
questions from activist shareholders over premium rates and issues related
to health-care reform at the company's annual meeting Tuesday at the
Those questions, however, were cut
short when the meeting was suddenly adjourned after William H.T. "Bucky"
Bush, WellPoint's lead
director and the brother of former President George H.W. Bush, collapsed
and required medical attention.
shareholder Dr. Robert Stone -- a Bloomington physician who just moments
before was at the microphone urging WellPoint to conduct a feasibility study
about converting into a nonprofit insurer -- rushed to Bush's side and
helped WellPoint Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sam Nussbaum care for the ailing
WellPoint spokesman Jon Mills said
Bush was taken to Methodist Hospital and admitted as a precaution. "He is
stable, alert and being evaluated," Mills wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.
Bush's collapse came more than an
hour into the meeting during the question-and-answer period when
shareholders get an opportunity to directly raise issues with Braly.
investors were still waiting to speak when the meeting was halted,
prompting protests from some activist shareholders, who wanted to ask more
questions of Braly.
"It's not involving Angela, is it?"
shouted Julia Vaughn, health policy consultant for the Citizens Action
Coalition. "Let us see the chairman. That's what she gets paid the big bucks
to do. These are people who have traveled from some distance to talk with
Vaughn, along with Stone and his
wife, Karen Green Stone, had introduced the shareholder proposal asking
WellPoint to study converting to nonprofit status. That shareholder proposal
failed. Other activist shareholder proposals also failed, including one
submitted by the AFL-CIO Reserve Fund that would have required WellPoint to
disclose direct and indirect lobbying
Activist shareholders did score one
victory during Tuesday's meeting. Investors passed a resolution -- against
the recommendation of the company's board -- that WellPoint adopt a
so-called "Say on Pay" shareholder advisory vote on executive pay.
The resolution, which was proposed
by the Connecticut
Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, will give WellPoint shareholders a
thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote each year on the pay packages of the company's
top executives. The vote is nonbinding, but advocates and some corporate
governance experts see such votes as a way to better align executive pay
with shareholder interests.
Other large companies, including
semiconductor maker Intel, already have adopted "Say on Pay" votes.
In other WellPoint news, billionaire
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has sold its stake in the company, more
than a million shares, according to regulatory filings.
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