WellPoint CEO Lies To President Obama

May 11, 2010 3:08 pm ET

WellPoint CEO Angela Braly sent President Obama a letter accusing him of spreading "false information" about WellPoint's practice of rescinding (dropping) insurance coverage for breast cancer victims.  Unfortunately for Ms. Braly, basic facts prove that she is the one who is lying.

President Obama: We Cannot Allow Insurance Companies To Continue Dropping Coverage For Cancer Victims

President Obama:

"We're holding insurance companies accountable in other ways, as well.  As of September, the new health care law prohibits insurance companies from dropping people's coverage when they get sick and need it most.  But when we found out that an insurance company was systematically dropping the coverage of women diagnosed with breast cancer, my administration called on them to end this practice immediately.  Two weeks ago, the entire insurance industry announced that it would comply with the new law early and stop the perverse practice of dropping people's coverage when they get sick." [President Obama, Weekly Address, 5/8/10]

Braly's Lie To Obama: "Despite Your Claims, WellPoint Does Not Single Out Women With Breast Cancer For Rescission. Period."

Braly: "WellPoint Does Not Single Out Women With Breast Cancer For Rescission." As reported by POLITICO:

"In a letter to President Barack Obama, [WellPoint CEO Angela] Braly accused Obama of repeating 'false information' about the company cutting off insurance for breast cancer patients and 'grossly misrepresent[ing]' the company's work to treat breast cancer patients. Braly's letter was prompted by President Barack Obama's address on Saturday...

In her response, Braly wrote that 'despite your claims, WellPoint does not single out women with breast cancer for rescission. Period.'

Braly laid into Obama's willingness to criticize the insurance industry, especially in light of its role in implementing the administration's new health care reform law...

'If we are going to make this law work on behalf of all Americans, the attacks on the health insurance industry - an industry that provides valued coverage for more than 200 million Americans - must end,' Braly wrote. 'We believe that our recent action to adopt many of the insurance reforms earlier than required by law is an indication of our willingness to work with your Administration to achieve this objective.'

Braly also disputed the findings of the Reuters investigation and the claim that the company was targeting breast cancer patients. 'Our policy on rescissions has always been based on fraud or misrepresentation,' she wrote. 'In fact, we adopted the precise policy of the new legislation before any other insurer.'

She concluded by writing that WellPoint 'share[s] your vision for a better America and look[s] forward to working with you and your administration.'" [POLITICO, 5/10/10]

Reuters: WellPoint Used "A Computer Algorithm That Automatically Targeted" Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

"WellPoint Also Has Specifically Targeted Women With Breast Cancer For Aggressive Investigation With The Intent To Cancel Their Policies." According to Reuters:

"Shortly after they were diagnosed with breast cancer, each of the women learned that her health insurance had been canceled... Neither of these women knew about the other. But besides their similar narratives, they had something else in common: Their health insurance carriers were subsidiaries of WellPoint, which has 33.7 million policyholders -- more than any other health insurance company in the United States.

The women paid their premiums on time. Before they fell ill, neither had any problems with their insurance. Initially, they believed their policies had been canceled by mistake.

They had no idea that WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted them and every other policyholder recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation, as the company searched for some pretext to drop their policies, according to government regulators and investigators...

WellPoint also has specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with the intent to cancel their policies, federal investigators told Reuters." [Reuters, 4/23/10, emphasis added]

House Oversight Committee: WellPoint Saved Nearly $10 Million Through One Employee's Rescission Rate

WellPoint Employee "Saved The Company nearly $10 Million" Through Rescissions.  As reported by the House Oversight Committee:

"The committee conducted a year long investigation into problems with the individual health insurance market and found, among other alarming issues, that in the last five years 20,000 individual insurance policyholders have had their policies rescinded by the three insurance companies who testified today. The investigation also uncovered that at least one insurance company evaluated employee performance based in part on the amount of money its employees saved the company through retroactive rescissions of health insurance policies. A document obtained by the Committee showed a WellPoint official was awarded a perfect score of 5 for 'exceptional performance' based on having saved the company nearly $10 million dollars through rescissions":

[Speaker.gov, 6/16/09]