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Single payer activists at the Wellpoint shareholders meeting

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WellPoint director Bayh conflicted, activists say

WellPoint Inc. CEO Angela Braly faced pointed criticism of her company and of WellPoint Director Susan Bayh from a handful of shareholders at the health insurer's annual meeting this morning.

Two shareholders used a question-and-answer session to charge Bayh with a conflict of interest because her husband, Sen. Evan Bayh, will have a vote on health care reform legislation being drafted in Congress.

And another investor asked the company to give up its for-profit status and return to a mutual insurance company - "for the good of the company and the good of the country."

"Give up this grand effort to become a behemoth astraddle the insurance market," said Dr. Robert Stone, an emergency-room physician from Bloomington. "I'm afraid we're only becoming a dinosaur."

Stone, even though he owns WellPoint stock, is an outspoken advocate for a single-payer plan, which is a national health insurance program financed by the federal government. So were the other WellPoint shareholders who criticized the company today - they are all part of a steering committee for Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan.

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