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WellCare CEO jumps to highest-paid in Tampa-St. Pete

Margie Manning




Ken Burdick, CEO of WellCare Health Plans Inc., received nearly $12.7 million in total compensation in 2018, up 11.8 percent from 2017.

Ken Burdick, CEO, WellCare

That makes Burdick the highest-paid CEO at companies headquartered in the Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater metro area, based on proxies filed so far with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Nearly all local public firms have filed their 2018 proxies, the document that gives shareholders information in advance of their annual meeting.

WellCare (NYSE: WCG), a Tampa-based managed care provider that focuses on government-sponsored health programs, is the third-largest company with headquarters here, with $20.4 billion in total revenue and 12,000 employees, including 4,500 workers in Tampa.

The company last month agreed to be acquired by Centene (NYSE: CNC), a St. Louis-based Fortune 100 health insurer, for $17.3 billion. The business that WellCare will conduct at its May 22 annual meeting isn’t related to the Centene deal, and a separate proxy seeking shareholder approval will be sent for that, WellCare said.

Burdick’s pay package for 2018 included $1.3 million in salary, $8.5 million in stock awards, and $2.9 million in cash from an incentive plan.

Increases in salary and incentives were implemented to bring Burdick’s compensation closer to the median of other CEOs, WellCare’s proxy said.

They also were in recognition of his leadership in outperforming pre-established financial metrics, including for adjusted earnings per share. WellCare reported  adjusted net income per share for 2018 of $11.03.

Other reasons cited for the increase:

  • Strong performance improvement in Medicare and Medicaid quality measures
  • Successful launch of new business opportunities
  • Integration of three significant acquisitions

In addition, Burdick established the framework for a five-year growth strategy; strengthened the company’s technology, clinical and operational platforms; instilled a corporate culture of respect, compliance, high expectations and accountability; and built a strong management team, the proxy said.

Three other WellCare executives also got bigger pay packages in 2018:

  • Andrew Asher, executive vice president and chief financial officer, $3.36 million, up 8.8 percent from 2017
  • Kelly Munson, executive vice president, Medicaid, $2.62 million, up 27.5 percent
  • Michael Polen, executive vice president, Medicare and operations, $2.59 million, up 28.4 percent

Anat Hakim, executive vice president and general counsel, had a pay package of $1.99 million in 2018, the first year she was listed as a named executive officer in the proxy.

The median WellCare employee had $81,647 in annual compensation in 2018. The ratio of Burdick’s pay to that of the median worker was 155.5 to 1.

Shareholders will cast advisory say-on-pay votes at the May 22 annual meeting.

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