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WellPoint replaces chief accounting officer Miller

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Health insurer WellPoint Inc. said its chief accounting officer has been removed immediately "without cause" and replaced with a veteran company executive.

The Indianapolis company said Martin L. Miller's departure is not tied to its financial statements or accounting practices. Company spokeswoman Kristin Binns declined to comment beyond a brief statement the company issued Friday.

Miller, 48, joined WellPoint in September 2008 from Molson Coors Brewing Co. and had served as senior vice president, chief accounting officer, controller and chief risk officer.

On Thursday, the insurer's board appointed John E. Gallina, 51, chief accounting officer. Gallina joined WellPoint in 1994 and served most recently as senior vice president of internal audit and continuous improvements. He also has served as a senior vice president of finance since August of 2008.

Morgan Stanley analyst Doug Simpson said in a research note Gallina has been viewed as "a rising star" at WellPoint.

"Gallina has more direct industry experience than his predecessor and this really just seems a personnel issue," Simpson wrote.

WellPoint also said Jeffrey P. Fusile will join the company in June from PricewaterhouseCoopers as senior vice president and chief financial officer for the company's operating unit. He will replace George L. Walker, who is retiring.

WellPoint is the largest health insurer based on membership. It operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 14 states. Company shares climbed 61 cents, to $78.03 each, in afternoon trading.

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