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Three WellPoint directors step down, cite personal reasons

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Three of WellPoint Inc.’s 11 board members have resigned, citing personal reasons for their decision to depart about six weeks after a new CEO took over at the second-largest U.S. health insurer.

Lenox Baker, Sheila Burke and Susan Bayh stepped down from the board effective immediately, Indianapolis-based WellPoint said Monday in a regulatory filing. “Each of the directors resigned for personal reasons and there were no disagreements or disputes between the company and any of the named directors which led to their resignation,” WellPoint said in the filing.

WellPoint ousted Angela Braly as CEO last August amid shareholder complaints about declining enrollment and the insurer’s disappointing stock performance. Joseph R. Swedish, a former hospital administrator, was hired to replace her and began March 25. The insurer last month reported first-quarter earnings that topped analysts’ estimates and on Monday affirmed its annual profit forecast of at least $7.75 a share, including investment losses of 5 cents a share.

“This is normal and it’s probably good for the company to clean out a few of the board members, especially given how long it took the board to come to the decision that it was time to remove the prior CEO,” said Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, in a telephone interview. “A new CEO always wants the full support of the board.”

Baker, a retired cardiac surgeon; Burke, a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; and Bayh, a lawyer and wife of former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, had served on the board since December 2004, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

WellPoint “has benefited from their knowledge, leadership and many contributions,” the company said in a prepared statement. “Health care is transforming and that transformation is accelerating rapidly. It is incumbent on the board to bring in new perspectives to help navigate these changes.”

The insurer's stock rose less than 1 percent Monday to close at $76.01 per share. The shares have risen 25 percent so far this year.

Asked when new board members might be chosen, Kristin Binns, a WellPoint spokeswoman, didn’t give a timeline. “The board constantly evaluates qualified individuals,” she said in an e-mail. “They remain committed to this on-going process.”

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  • Bye-Bye Bayh $
    So saddened to see Susan Bayh give up one of her many board seats. Leaving Wellpoint might cause a little tightening of the Bayh family budget for awhile. As we all know, Washington is a very expensive place to you live, and of course hubby Evan has never had a real job...

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  1. I would not vote for Bayh if he did run. I also wouldn't vote for Pence. My guess is that Bayh does not have the stomach to oppose persons on the far left or far right. Also, outside of capitalizing on his time as U. S. Senator (and his wife's time as a board member to several companies) I don't know if he is willing to fight for anything. If people who claim to be in the middle walk away from fights with the right and left wing, what are we left with? Extremes. It's probably best for Bayh if he does not have the stomach for the fight but the result is no middle ground.

  2. JK - I meant that the results don't ring true. I also questioned the 10-year-old study because so much in the "health care system" has changed since the study was made. Moreover, it was hard to get to any overall conclusion or observation with the article. But....don't be defensive given my comments; I still think you do the best job of any journalist in the area shedding light and insight on important health care issues.

  3. Probably a good idea he doesn't run. I for one do not want someone who lives in VIRGINIA to be the governor. He gave it some thought, but he likes Virginia too much. What a name I cannot say on this site! The way these people think and operate amuses me.

  4. Kent definitely has talent and he may even "win" the afternoon drive time competition, but do we really need 3 local sports talk shows? Can't we get just one show with a national presence?!? I loved Doug Gottlieb in that slot and have now switched back to music. How many times can we talk about Hibbert's implosion or Reggie Wayne's knee?? All these guys know national sports, but it always seem to pull right back to Indiana sports (x3).

  5. is only popular in Maroon COunty

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