Aetna CEO: I’m Focusing On Getting Something Done That’s Good For Us…I Mean, ‘The American People’

Health Care for America Now (HCAN), a pro-reform health care advocacy group, started a new advertising campaign on Tuesday that calls for a public option. “The commercial, entitled ‘How to Get Rich,’ says the insurance industry is motivated by greed.” It references Ronald Williams, chief executive of Aetna, who received a compensation package of $24 million in 2008. Watch the ad:

Appearing at a Morgan Stanley healthcare conference yesterday, Williams said, “I continue to believe that there is not the support, particularly in the Senate, for a government plan.” He told the audience that a public option could affect the health insurance companies’ profits over time. “[E]mployers might very well choose to take advantage of the government rates and that long-term it’s not good for the healthcare system.” By which, Williams means it’s not good for Aetna.

Earlier this week, Williams was interviewed on Fox Business, where he urged President Obama to focus on the “80 percent” of things they can agree on. In an ironically revealing moment, Williams stumbles when he tries to explain his priorities for health reform. “Our focus is really on trying to get something done that’s good for the — American people,” he said, hesitating and pausing with his mouth hanging open before mustering out the last two words. Watch it:


Last month, Williams pledged to pursue profits rather than add or keep enrollment. “We have a clear bias toward profitability over growth,” he told investment analysts.

Full disclosure: HCAN is currently running paid ads on ThinkProgress.