Protesters disrupt UnitedHealth Group CEO's campus speech

TakeAction Minnesota protesters interrupted Stephen Hemsley during his Tuesday speech at McNamara Alumni Center.
March 02, 2011

A group of about two dozen protesters disrupted a sold-out speech by UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley on Tuesday at the McNamara Alumni Center.

The protests, organized by TakeAction Minnesota, were against the health care provider’s reserve funds. Protesters called for full disclosure of UnitedHealth’s relationship with the state’s public health care programs.

Hemsley had been invited to campus by the Carlson School of Management as a part of a guest speaker series. He paused his speech on the evolution of a business because of the protest and stepped off stage until the group was escorted outside by a police officer, Carlson spokesman Steve Rudolph said.

The CEO then concluded his speech and handled questions about the interruption during a question and answer session.

The speech was part of Carlson’s “1st Tuesday Speaker Series” and had around 400 to 500 students, alumni and community members in attendance. Carlson representatives at the event told Rudolph they couldn’t remember any other protests taking place during the series, which started in 1992.

Copies of the letter that the group sent to Hemsley, printed on pink fliers, were handed to the crowd.

Hemsley was Minnesota’s highest-paid CEO in 2009, according to the Star Tribune’s most recent annual survey of the state’s top-paid CEOs. He made $102 million that year, $98.6 million of which was generated through stock options.

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