"We have made great strides in the process of building the new Aetna," Donaldson said. "We have charted a course for change that ultimately should lead to a profound transformation in the way we do business. With the progress we have made and with the addition first of Jack Rowe, and now nationally recognized health insurance executives Ron Williams and Bill Popik, the board and I agreed that this was the appropriate time to complete the transition."
Ronald A. Williams will join Aetna as executive vice president and chief of health operations. William C. Popik, M.D., became chief medical officer on March 5.
"I would like to thank the people of Aetna for their unparalleled expertise and dedication," Donaldson said. "The changes we have made and the plans we have put in place truly have come from the people at Aetna who answered the call to unleash their creativity by putting the patient first, and by creating a new partnership with physicians and hospitals to serve the patients' needs.
"I would also like to express the strong confidence that the board and I have in Jack Rowe as the next chairman of Aetna. In a brief time, he has demonstrated a firm grasp of the issues facing the company and a keen understanding of what we must do to succeed in the changing health care marketplace. He clearly is prepared to help Aetna restore its leadership position in terms of service, reputation, responsiveness and profitability," Donaldson said.
"I would like to recognize the immense contribution that Bill Donaldson has made to Aetna," Dr. Rowe said. "Over a year ago, Bill was asked to step from the board into active management of the company as chairman and CEO. The board could not have made a better choice.
"Under Bill's leadership, Aetna made a strategic decision to sell Aetna Financial Services and Aetna International to ING and spin off the new Aetna to shareholders as the leader in health care and group benefits. As a result, the total shareholder value of $10.9 billion at year-end, combining our market capitalization and the cash proceeds paid to shareholders as part of the ING transaction, was roughly double that of last February when Bill became chairman.
"Bill also initiated a strategic review of our health business, which resulted in a series of strategic initiatives that are well under way. Under his leadership, we are reshaping our product portfolio, improving relations with doctors and hospitals, restructuring sales and broker compensation, improving the quality of customer service, eliminating targeted unprofitable membership, reducing expenses, and working to improve the effectiveness of claim and medical cost management," Dr. Rowe said.
"As chairman, I look forward to working with Bill and the rest of the board and relying, as he did, on the people of Aetna to continue the job of transforming the company."
Aetna is the nation's leading provider of health care and group benefits, serving more than 19 million health care members, 14 million dental members and 11 million group insurance customers.