Christine Stuart photo
Members of the Working Families Party gathered outside Aetna’s headquarters in hospital gowns and chanted “Aetna’s profits are making us sick!”

The protest was in response to Aetna’s announcement of its $434 million first-quarter profits, up 8 percent because of increased premiums, membership growth, and cost-cutting measures.

In 2006 Aetna’s annual profits were $1.7 billion and Brian Petronella, president of UFCW Local 371, wanted to put that number in perspective Thursday.

He said $1.7 billion would pay the New York Yankees payroll for 8 years, build 182 new elementary schools, and it would provide health insurance plans for each of the state’s 419,856 uninsured residents.

Christine Rampulla (pictured below) knows all too well what it’s like to be uninsured.

She said five years ago she was in a car accident which cost her everything from her job to her home to her health insurance. She said she’s now on Social Security disability, which apparently is too much money for her son to receive insurance through the states HUSKY A Medicaid program. She said it would cost $4,000 to insure her son under the states HUSKY B program which is based on income. She said she’s devastated she can’t give her son the health insurance coverage he needs to manage his chronic medical conditions.

Christine Stuart photo

“Protect the people, not the profits,” she said.

Deb Noble, another Working Families Party member, said she works for an insurance company and is not aiming her disgust at the insurance company employees. She said her beef is with the CEO’s. She said Aetna’s CEO makes $20 million a year, which is about $57 every minute. A minimum wage earner has to work more than 70-hours a week to live in Hartford and Aetna’s CEO has to work just 10-minutes to make that much money, she said.

“Your premium is their paycheck,” she said.

Dr. Larry Deutsch said “Public policy should be about protecting our right to affordable health care, not just protecting the profits of insurance companies.”

Christine Stuart photo

“Policy makers should recognize that insurance industry profits are part of the disease, not part of the cure, for what ails our healthcare system. Healthcare is a basic human right, and in a state as wealthy as ours it is shameful that so many of our citizens lack insurance and go without necessary medical care,” Jon Green, executive director of the Working Families Party said.