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Letters from readers
Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN)
January 31, 2003

HealthPartners' board

I have been served at HealthPartners for 31 years. Most of those years I was a member of Group Health, proud of their ideals; since the sellout to HealthPartners, I am a customer. As we all are. And now, I am an angry customer.

HealthPartners betrayed my (our) trust; the corporation has contributed to the increased cost of health care; its contribution to the increased costs has put viable health care even further out reach for many, including one of my adult children. Those things make me angry, and I will do what I can to see them corrected, and make this nonprofit the service it was meant to be.

Suggestions from the state attorney general or anyone else who is knowledgeable and well-meaning are welcome. I had felt that I was not attentive enough to the workings of the corporation, but it seems that even those who read and voted for the directors weren't able to ensure adequate oversight. What gives us reason to think now that the current board will perform any better?

- Paul D. Lefebvre, Minneapolis.


Premiums and perks

Attorney General Mike Hatch uncovered the deception of the HealthPartners board of directors when George Halvorson, their ex-CEO, quit to become head of Kaiser Permanente. His exit package consisted of three life insurance policies that will pay $5.5 million to his survivors with a cash value of $1.1 million, which he was not eligible to receive, but can borrow from tax-free, in addition to severance pay of $3.4 million in cash benefits, including $100,000 that he did not deserve because he did not earn it.

It is important to stress that Hatch neither found nor alleged that HealthPartners' costly pay packages were major contributors to rising consumer premiums and that a recent report by the Minnesota Department of Health found that HealthPartners' administrative expenses were actually slightly below average for the state.

If the latter part of that statement is true, then every health care company should be investigated and we must conclude that there is no correlation between rising consumer premiums and ridiculously high exit pay packages for CEOs.

- Melvin Ogurak, Edina.


You go, Mr. Hatch

I am appalled that my fixed senior citizen income has contributed to paying for the luxury cost of health-maintenance organization executives.

Minnesota's attorney general has brought this valuable information to the public view. Thank you, Mike Hatch, for protecting the public. Please continue to make all insurance companies accountable and hold their feet to the fire.

- Barbara Zell, Plymouth. Edition:  METRO
Section:  NEWS
Page:  18A
Index Terms: opinion Copyright 2003 Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities