Sunday, August 19, 2018
Business

CEO Alec Cunningham out at Tampa's WellCare Health Plans

TAMPA — WellCare Health Plans, a major area employer and provider of managed-care plans for about 2.8 million people, has abruptly replaced its chief executive officer, Alec Cunningham.

Company chairman David Gallitano, who runs an investment and advisory firm, will serve as interim CEO of the Tampa-based company during a national search.

The ousted CEO and his replacement offered different takes on what triggered the decision.

Gallitano, a WellCare board member since 2009 who was just named chairman in May, told analysts the company needed a CEO with a track record to execute large-scale growth "leading a company of the size and scope we anticipate WellCare will attain over the next several years."

"The board felt that it was necessary to identify a new experienced leader to help write the next chapter for WellCare," he said.

For his part, Cunningham said his departure was because of differing agendas.

"The board and I have different perspectives on how best to move forward in a very complicated health care marketplace, but I want to wish them — and the entire WellCare family — all the best," he said in a statement released separately.

Cunningham described his tenure at WellCare as "a time of great growth and profitability. … I'm very proud about what we accomplished for our shareholders, our stakeholders and all those we serve."

In the last fiscal year, Cunningham's total compensation was $5.5 million, up 23 percent from the previous year. According to the latest company proxy filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he could be eligible for a severance payout of $3.6 million, but a company spokesman estimated that the severance will be closer to $3.2 million.

As interim CEO, Gallitano will receive a monthly salary of $166,667, plus restricted stock and a monthly allowance for housing and auto expenses.

After joining WellCare in 2005, Cunningham soon ran the company's largest operating division, which serves Medicare and Medicaid members in Florida and Hawaii. When he was named CEO in 2009 at the age of 42, Cunningham became one of the youngest leaders of a major health care organization in the country.

At the time, WellCare was still trying to overcome a shadow tainting the company ever since the FBI raided its Tampa headquarters in October 2007. Former CEO Todd Farha and two other executives at that time were found guilty in June of health care fraud.

Trying to regroup from the Farha era, the company imposed new safeguards, regulatory oversight, training and whistle-blowing alerts while revamping its leadership team.

Cunningham's exit surprised some analysts, given WellCare's strong financial rebound in recent years. Its revenues have grown by double-digit percentages the past two years, while its stock has steadily climbed. Its workforce has swelled to about 5,150, including about 3,000 employees in Tampa.

With $7.4 billion in annual revenue last year, WellCare ranks as the third-largest public company in Tampa Bay, trailing only Tech Data and Jabil Circuit.

Gallitano told analysts that Cunningham's prior roles were "significant" and commended his earlier work, dismissing job performance as a concern.

"This (management) change is not the result of any other issue," he said. "As demonstrated by our third-quarter results (also released Friday), the company is effectively implementing our growth, quality, service and cost initiatives."

In the third quarter, WellCare earnings jumped 67 percent to $64 million, and revenue rose 38 percent to $2.5 billion, beating analyst expectations.

Shares in WellCare fell nearly 10 percent early Friday before closing at $62.60 apiece, down 6 percent.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at (727) 893-8242 or [email protected]

Comments
Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny,I’m a recent college grad who’s been working an entry-level job for the past year. I only make about $33,000 a year, but I’m doing OK. I’m able to pay my bills without taking on more debt. One of the reasons I’m able to do so is that I dri...
Published: 08/17/18
Updated: 08/19/18
Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

ST. PETERSBURG — A political newcomer seeking a Pinellas County Commission seat has faced accusations of physical abuse and stalking from her former fiance, who twice sought court-ordered protection from her.Both allegations came after Democrat Amy K...
Published: 08/17/18
Tampa Bay’s seventh renovated Winn-Dixie opens in Hernando County

Tampa Bay’s seventh renovated Winn-Dixie opens in Hernando County

SPRING HILL — The latest Winn-Dixie remodel opened in Hernando County on Thursday.This marks the seventh remodeled Winn-Dixie parent company Southeastern Grocers has unveiled in Tampa Bay this year. The chain promised renovations following emerging f...
Published: 08/17/18
St. Petersburg ranks No. 39 in U.S. for affordable living, study says

St. Petersburg ranks No. 39 in U.S. for affordable living, study says

ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg is beating the national averages on affordable homeownership, according to a SmartAsset study.The financial technology company ranked 115 of the biggest cities in the U.S., measured by mortgage payments, property taxes...
Published: 08/17/18

Florida unemployment falls to 3.7 percent

Florida’s unemployment rate hit an 11-year low in July. The jobless rate inched down a notch to 3.7 percent, according to state figures released Friday, continuing the state’s 10-month run of a sub-4 percent unemployment rate. "This is one of the big...
Published: 08/17/18
Welfont, KnowBe4, Teami and other Tampa Bay companies rank high in Inc. 5000 list

Welfont, KnowBe4, Teami and other Tampa Bay companies rank high in Inc. 5000 list

While a Wisconsin company that makes software to execute shipments and a trendy cellphone grip company out of Colorado may have taken the top spots in this year’s Inc. 5000 list — Florida still had an impressive showing. Every year, Inc. ranks the 5...
Published: 08/17/18
Wages remain stagnant in Florida despite super low unemployment. What’s going on?

Wages remain stagnant in Florida despite super low unemployment. What’s going on?

It remains our biggest economic enigma: Sluggish wage growth despite low unemployment. In a robust job market, pay rises as the supply of available workers shrinks. At least that’s the way it normally works. This time around, the ingredients appear ...
Published: 08/17/18
Children who lived with smokers are more likely to die of lung disease as adults, study says

Children who lived with smokers are more likely to die of lung disease as adults, study says

Childhood exposure to secondhand smoke is linked to lung disease decades later, according to a study published Thursday by the American Cancer Society.For 22 years, researchers have been following more than 70,000 adults who have never smoked. At the...
Published: 08/17/18
What would it take to overthrow king Publix? Safeway’s Florida exit begs the question.

What would it take to overthrow king Publix? Safeway’s Florida exit begs the question.

LARGO — Everything is on clearance inside Tampa Bay’s only Safeway grocery store. Patio furniture, 40 percent off. Beach chairs, too. Most grocery items are 30 percent off; the entire liquor store is 20 percent off.The discounts will probably get ste...
Published: 08/17/18
Trump asks SEC to look into ditching quarterly filings

Trump asks SEC to look into ditching quarterly filings

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump says he’s asking federal regulators to look into the effectiveness of the quarterly financial reports that publicly traded companies are required to file. In a tweet early Friday, Trump said that after speaking with ...
Published: 08/17/18