The following remarks were made by Karen Green Stone at the annual shareholders meeting of the giant health insurer WellPoint in Indianapolis on May 17. Green Stone is a member of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Care Plan, an affiliate of Physicians for a National Health Program. For the past several years she and other members of HCHP have challenged WellPoint’s profit-driven business practices on the floor of the annual meeting, urging shareholders to vote for a resolution demanding the company return to its nonprofit roots. They’ve received significant media coverage for their efforts, and their support for single-payer national health insurance has also been noted. An excerpt from her remarks on Tuesday was published in the Indianapolis Business Journal.
Karen Green Stone
My name is Karen Green Stone from Bloomington. I own 15 shares.
Since last year’s meeting it’s estimated that another 50,000 people have died in the United States because they are uninsured. That equals the entire population of Kokomo [Ind.].
I’d like to start with comments made by friends and strangers I’ve talked to about coming to this meeting. “Give the bastards hell,” one said. “Go get ’em,” said another. “I hate Anthem,” a friend told me. Still another: “Don’t get me started.”
After hearing Wendell Potter speak in Bloomington on his book tour (I’m sure you all know Wendell Potter) a friend said to me, “I sometimes thought I was crazy, a conspiracy theorist – now I know they really are evil.”
I read and talked to Wendell about his book, “Deadly Spin.” What stirs my anger the most is the stealth and perversion you’ve used to shape public opinion. Your PR campaigns have nurtured fear and confusion in the minds of reasonable and caring Americans.
I imagine it must be very difficult hold steady the concept of “I’m a good person and I work for a corporation that by its very nature lacks compassion and is indifferent to suffering.” But good and intelligent people can sometimes fall into a trap.
Everyone in this room knows that it’s all about money and power. We know WellPoint’s sordid history of rescission, rigged software, cherry-picking of healthy patients and denial of care. We know about the barriers you build, making it so difficult that people give up or die fighting with you.
I hope that one or some of you in this room who feel the stirrings of having sold out will find the courage to go public with inside information because your business model is taking down America.
Angela, it takes 285 public school teachers in Indiana who earn an average of $47,000 a year to equal your 2010 compensation package of $13.4 million.
Would you kindly tell us why you are entitled to so much more than them?