2 major health plans announce changes in executive staff
■ Aetna's CEO unveils his plans to retire as WellPoint's No. 3 point person is "terminated without cause" -- and without explanation.
Ronald Williams, CEO and chair of Aetna, announced Oct. 19 that he is retiring from the country's third-largest health plan. Williams, 60, has led the company since 2006.
Aetna President Mark Bertolini will become CEO and is expected to be elected chair in April, when Williams' retirement will take effect. Williams will be executive chair until April, then serve as a consultant through February 2012 at a rate of $20,000 a month, according to company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Williams was among the highest-paid health plan CEOs. His compensation, including cash salary, incentive pay and stock options, was valued at $18 million in 2009.
Also on Oct. 19, the leadership at Indianapolis-based WellPoint changed.
WellPoint announced in an SEC filing that the company's third-highest-ranking executive, Dijuana K. Lewis, was "terminated without cause" from her position as president and CEO of the Comprehensive Health Solutions business unit and executive vice president of WellPoint.
WellPoint spokeswoman Kristin Binns said Samuel Nussbaum, MD, executive vice president for clinical health policy and chief medical officer, is heading up Lewis' division until a permanent replacement can be found.
Binns would not comment further about Lewis' departure.
An Oct. 27 article in the Indianapolis Business Journal quoted unnamed sources as saying Lewis objected to having some of her responsibilities shifted to another executive, and that her departure was a mutual decision.
Her compensation, including base salary, incentive pay and stock options, was $4.5 million in 2009. WellPoint also paid $167,000 in relocation costs to move Lewis to Indianapolis. Her severance package, as described in SEC filings, is worth more than $3 million.
Valerie Fredrickson, a human resources consultant in Menlo Park, Calif., said she has no inside knowledge of the situation between WellPoint and Lewis, but that it is somewhat unusual for a company to release a statement like WellPoint's, specifying that Lewis was terminated "without cause."
"Without cause" is a legal term that could be used following negotiations between attorneys for a company and a departing employee. It does not signal an amicable split, she said.