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Chamber Hopes Aetna CEO Will Bring Assurances At Keynote Event

Rush Hour in Louisville, Kentucky Skyline at Sunrise
Rush Hour in Louisville, Kentucky Skyline at Sunrise

The leader of Louisville's chamber of commerce hopes the chief executive officer of Aetna will deliver a calming message during the Greater Louisville Inc. annual meeting next year.

Mark Bertolini, chairman and CEO of Aetna, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the event, set for January 2016.

"Hopefully he calms the waters a little bit," said Kent Oyler, president and CEO of Greater Louisville Inc., the city's chamber of commerce.

A proposed buyout of Louisville-based health insurer Humana by Aetna gained shareholder approval earlier this week. The $37 billion deal still needs approval from federal regulators before it is finalized.

What will become of the some 13,000 Humana employees based in Louisville is yet to be seen.

"Our position is that Humana has indicated they would not lose jobs based on this acquisition, and that is what Aetna has said," Oyler said.

Still, there may be some changes in the employment base.

Should the deal go through, the new company would locate its government business — including Medicaid and Medicare Advantage — here. That was reiterated in a recent SEC filing in response to shareholder lawsuits.

Mayor Greg Fischer has been optimistic about the future of the workforce here. And Aetna has projected that more than half of the newly merged company’s revenues would come from its government business.

Oyler said chamber officials approached Bertolini because they thought it would be a good time to introduce him to Louisville's business leaders.

"I think it's very important to get the person that's going to play a very influential role in Louisville's economic future in front of the business community," he said.

Last year, Keith McLoughlin, chief executive officer of Electrolux, served as the keynote speaker for the GLI annual meeting.

The meeting is set for Jan. 26 at the Palace Theater.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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