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ER doc is affable WellPoint activist

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It looks like Dr. Rob Stone will continue to be a cheery thorn in the side of WellPoint Inc.

On Tuesday, he presented a proposal at WellPoint’s annual shareholders' meeting calling for a feasibility study on converting the giant Indianapolis-based health insurer into a not-for-profit entity. The measure didn’t pass—probably not by a long shot. Vote totals will be released in coming days.

“No surprise. I didn’t think we’d pass,” Stone said afterward in his typically affable tone.

Stone, an emergency room physician from Bloomington, said he’s just hoping for 3-percent approval from WellPoint shareholders—the minimum needed to bring the same proposal back next year.

Meanwhile, Stone proposed a new way to cajole WellPoint to his way of thinking: Be on WellPoint’s board of directors. He thinks new rules being adopted by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission might make it easier for shareholders to nominate their own candidates for a company’s board.

“I may seek such a nomination in 2011,” Stone told WellPoint brass at the shareholder meeting. He then deadpanned, “Unless, of course, the board itself might see fit to nominate me.”

Stone is probably the last person WellPoint wants on its board. He wants a Medicare-for-all national insurance system that would render WellPoint, at best, a government contractor for processing medical claims. He owns just a handful of shares, but has used them to make critical comments at the annual meeting the past four years. He also has helped organize four straight protests outside WellPoint's headquarters on Monument Circle.

This year, that protest ended with a crowd chanting against Angela Braly, the chairwoman of WellPoint's board, "Hey hey, ho ho, Angela Braly's got to go."

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