Ex-Molina CEO suggests political views got him fired

J. Mario Molina, the recently ousted head of Molina Healthcare, has had strong words for the Trump administration and congressional Republicans on their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and he’s now hinting that his tough talk may cost him his job.

J. Mario Molina

Molina was fired as CEO earlier this week alongside his brother, John Molina, who was the company’s chief financial officer. The company’s board cited “disappointing financial performance” as the reason for the brothers’ firing.

Although he wouldn’t say it explicitly, Molina suggested that his outspoken politics may have also played a part in the decision.

“I’ve been a very vocal critic of what’s going on in Washington,” Molina told Politico. “I know the other health plan executives have been afraid to speak out. Maybe they’re smarter than I am, but I’m not going to back off.”

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Molina was one of the few insurance executives to speak out against the GOP’s American Health Care Act when the bill was first revealed in March. He said then that few of his peers would be likely to express concerns about the bill out of fear of the repercussions. He reiterated that point this week, saying that people, including other insurers, "are afraid of the [Trump] administration."

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Molina Healthcare had thrived in the ACA’s individual marketplaces, but revealed in February that it lost $110 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016, due at least in part to the fact that it had to pay significantly more into the risk adjustment program than it had anticipated.

However, despite those losses, Molina beat Wall Street predictions for the first quarter of 2017, the results of which were announced a day after the brothers were fired.

The timing “does make you wonder,” J. Mario Molina told Politico.

Industry analysts have suggested the ouster may hint at plans for a sale, but Molina said he was not aware of any companies seeking to acquire Molina Healthcare. Though, he added, removing the brothers from leadership roles would likely make a sale easier.