The company said that Angela Braly, its CEO and president, stepped down on Tuesday. Executive vice president and general counsel, John Cannon, has been tapped as interim CEO while the company searches for a permanent replacement.
Investors liked the news, sending WellPoint shares up more than 7% in Wednesday morning trading.
Company officials indicated that Cannon has told WellPoint that he is uninterested in serving as CEO on anything more than a temporary basis, the Associated Press noted.
Braly, who became president and CEO in 2007 and chair of the company’s board three years later, came under fierce criticism from investors and analysts after the company attempted to hike premiums during the 2010 debate over President Obama’s health care reform plan.
Last month, the company’s shares tumbled after it posted weaker-than-expected earnings and reduced its profit outlook for the year.
By comparison, rival UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) has seen its stock rise this year, while WellPoint shares have fallen more than 10%.
Despite Braly departure, the company said it had faith in the rest of the executive team.
In July, WellPoint announced the $4.46 billion acquisition of managed care provider, Amerigroup, which administers Medicaid benefits in a number of states.