Learn more about Pete Peterson-funded astroturf projects at the Fix the Debt Portal.
Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated is a large U.S. health insurance company with about 70 million customers. Brands include AmeriChoice (manages various Medicare and Medicaid options), Ovations (specializes in people aged 50+), UnitedHealth Group International (in Europe, Latin America, and Asia), and UnitedHealthcare (consumer-oriented health benefit plans). 
The company's total revenues in 2011 were $101.86 billion.
In 2006, UnitedHealth had revenues of $71.5 billion with profits of US$4.1 billion. 
Ties to Pete Peterson's "Fix the Debt"
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." UnitedHealth Group is part of the Campaign to Fix the Debt as of February 2013.
This article is part of the Center for Media and Democracy's investigation of Pete Peterson's Campaign to "Fix the Debt." Please visit our main SourceWatch page on Fix the Debt.
|About Fix the Debt|
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." Through a special report and new interactive wiki resource, the Center for Media and Democracy -- in partnership with the Nation magazine -- exposes the funding, the leaders, the partner groups, and the phony state "chapters" of this astroturf supergroup. Learn more at PetersonPyramid.org and in the Nation magazine.
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
UnitedHealth Group has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It was a "Chairman" level sponsor of ALEC's 2011 Annual Conference, which in 2010 equated to $50,000. Also, its President of Community and State, Russell Petrella, spoke at a Workshop at the 2011 Annual Conference, titled "The Medicaid Crisis in the States: Private Sector Solutions You Can Use." And it has been a member of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force. An August 2013 ALEC board document obtained by The Guardian, however, suggested the company had terminated its membership on April 22, 2013, having "left along with BCBS."
See Corporations that Have Cut Ties to ALEC for more.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
Efforts to oppose health care reform
Corporate mobilization of employees
In August 2009, as the country was debating a Democratically proposed health reform bill, UnitedHealth Group sent out a letter to its employees urging them to call the company's "United for Health Reform Advocacy Hotline" to speak with an advocacy specialist about health care reform. According to the letter, the advocacy specialist would help UHG employees write "personalized messages" to elected officials, and arm them with talking points to use at local events to help them better oppose the public health insurance option. The letter also said the specialist would assist employees with finding and attending town hall meetings about health care reform. The letter directed employees to a Web site, www. unitedforhealthreform.com/events. 
Corporate mobilization of employees in a way that gives the appearance of a "grassroots uprising" against proposed legislation was a tactic used by Philip Morris in the 1990s to oppose U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco.
Ad boycott against Air America Radio
United Healthcare refused to advertise on the progressive Air America Radio. In October 2006, around 90 companies, including United Healthcare, told ABC Radio Networks that they did not want their ads to play on radio stations that carried Air America Radio.   
CEO William W. McGuire removed in stock scandal
In 2006, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, and prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in New York began investigating the conduct of UnitedHealth Group's leadership for backdating stock options. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UnitedHealth Group was removed from office. The Washington Post said of McGuire, "his greed in amassing $1.1 billion in stock options plus a pension of $5.1 million a year is matched only by the revelation that the board member who chaired the compensation committee had conflicts of interest."   
Board of Directors
As of February 2013: 
- William C. Ballard, Jr. - former Of Counsel, Greenebaum Doll & McDonald PLLC, Director since 1993
- Edson Bueno, M.D. - Chief Executive Officer, Amil Participações S.A., Director since 2012
- Richard T. Burke - Non-Executive Chairman, UnitedHealth Group, Director since 1977
- Robert J. Darretta - retired Vice-Chairman and Chief Financial Officer, Johnson & Johnson, Director since 2007
- Stephen J. Hemsley - President and Chief Executive Officer, UnitedHealth Group, Director since 2000
- Michele J. Hooper - President and Chief Executive Officer, The Directors’ Council, Director since 2007
- Rodger A. Lawson - retired President and Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Investments - Financial Services, Director since 2011
- Douglas W. Leatherdale - retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The St. Paul Companies, Inc., Director since 1983
- Glenn M. Renwick - President and Chief Executive Officer, The Progressive Corporation. Director since 2008
- Kenneth I. Shine - Executive Vice Chancellor for The University of Texas System, Director since 2009
- Gail R. Wilensky - Senior Fellow, Project HOPE, Director since 1993
Former board members include:
As of February 2013:
- Stephen J. Hemsley - President and Chief Executive Officer, UnitedHealth Group
- Gail K. Boudreaux - Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group and Chief Executive Officer, UnitedHealthcare
- Larry C. Renfro - Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group and Chief Executive Officer, Optum
- David S. Wichmann - Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, UnitedHealth Group and President, UnitedHealth Group Operations
- Marianne D. Short - Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, UnitedHealth Group
- William A. Munsell - Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group
- Anthony Welters - Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group
- Eric S. Rangen - Senior Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer, UnitedHealth Group
- Jeannine M. Rivet - Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group
- Simon Stevens - Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group and President, Global Health
- Lori Sweere - Executive Vice President, Human Capital, UnitedHealth Group
- Reed V. Tuckson, M.D. - Executive Vice President and Chief of Medical Affairs, UnitedHealth Group
- John S. Penshorn - Senior Vice President, UnitedHealth Group
- Don Nathan - Senior Vice President, Chief Communications Officer, UnitedHealth Group
Key executives and 2006 pay: 
- Richard T. Burke, Sr., Chairman
- Stephen J. Hemsley, Chief Executive Officer and Director, $15,549,028
- G. Mike Mikan, Chief Financial Officer
The company spent $2,534,000 for lobbying in the first half of 2007. Some of the lobbying firms used were Barbour, Griffith and Rogers, Wexler and Walker Public Policy Associates, Dutko Worldwide, and Ogilvy Government Relations. 
9900 Bren Road East
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Resources and articles
Featured SourceWatch Articles on Fix the Debt
- Fix the Debt Portal Page
- Fix the Debt's Leadership
- Fix the Debt's Partner Groups
- Fix the Debt's State Chapters
- Fix the Debt's Lobbyists
- Fix the Debt's Parent Group
- Fix the Debt's Corporations
- Pete Peterson
- Peter G. Peterson Foundation
- America Speaks
- Simpson-Bowles Commission
- Erskine Bowles
- Alan Simpson
- Social Security
- Archelle Georgiou - former chief medical officer
- About page, UnitedHealth Group, accessed November 2007.
- UnitedHealth Group, "2011 Annual Report", organizational document, page 29.
- UnitedHealth Group Profile, Hoovers, accessed November 2007.
- American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Workshops, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011
- American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting Board Meeting packet, organizational documents, August 6, 2013, released by The Guardian December 3, 2013.
- United for Health Reform (UnitedHealth Group PAC) Take Action Today! Email. August 13, 2009
- Marc Fisher, "Air America, in the Throes of Victory?", The Washington Post, December 10, 2006.
- "Air America on Ad Blacklist?", FAIR, October 31, 2006.
- "Air America Blackout", FAIR.org/ABC memo, October 25, 2006.
- "A Board With Its Back To The Wall", BusinessWeek, July 10, 2006
- Joshua Freed, "Feds Seek to Speed UnitedHealth Probe", ABC News, April 30, 2007 .
- "The Options Blood Bath", Washington Post, November 14, 2006.
- UnitedHealth Group Board, organizational website, accessed February 2013
- Board of Directors, UnitedHealth Group, accessed November 2007.
- UnitedHealth Group, "Executives", organizational website, accessed February 2013
- UnitedHealth Group Key People, Hoovers, accessed November 2007.
- Stephen J Hemsley, Forbes, accessed November 2007.
- 2006 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed November 2007.
- UnitedHealth Group lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed November 2007.