Demonstrators Protest Cigna Pay, Healthcare Lobbying

Apr 26, 2012

Several demonstrators were arrested outside Cigna’s annual meeting in Hartford Wednesday, protesting about executive pay and what they say is the company’s interference with healthcare reform. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Protestors calling themselves the 99 Percent marched on Capitol Avenue outside the Bushnell Theatre in downtown Hartford Wednesday as Cigna executives and shareholders arrived for the annual meeting. The group said they want to call attention to the compensation package given to Cigna CEO David Cordani, whose pay increased 27% last year, to more than $12 million. One of the protestors was Helen Campbell.

“I understand the insurance companies are a business and they have every right to earn an income. But what I don’t think is right is when you have the presidents earning millions a year while low income people can’t even afford to get the insurance.”

Tom Swan of the Connecticut Action Alliance for a Fair Economy says Cigna also hasn’t disclosed money it’s given to America’s Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP, a trade group that’s actively lobbied on healthcare reform.

“Why weren’t they willing to be upfront about spending $86 million to try to block healthcare reform? Are they continuing to put money into front groups? And they should be telling shareholders and the public where and who they’re supporting in order to advance their short-term, greedy goals.”

The demonstrators say they targeted Cigna among all of the health insurers because it received state tax breaks to bring more jobs into Connecticut under the state’s First Five program. The subject of executive pay was also broached inside the meeting by several shareholders, although in the end executive packages were approved by a vote. CEO David Cordani himself spoke about the positive economic impact Cigna has on Connecticut.

For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.