Meet Wendell Potter
In the recent healthcare debate, Mr. Wendell Potter has gained prominence as an outspoken advocate for truly meaningful reform to the existing system, quite unlike some of the recent protests which are backed (financially and otherwise) by lobbyists for the healthcare "industry". The reason for Mr. Potter's recent celebrity: he's an industry "insider" and can testify just what the for-profit healthcare industry does in pursuit of profits, and the picture he has painted isn't quite as innocent as proponents, many of whom are protesting at town hall meetings across the country right now, would like us to believe.
Wendell Potter held variety of positions at CIGNA Corporation for over 15 years, most recently having served as that company's head of corporate communications with a role of acting as the healthcare insurance company's chief corporate spokesman. Prior to joining CIGNA, Mr. Potter also ran communications at Humana Inc. (another large for-profit healthcare insurer). However, after a 20-year career as a corporate PR executive for the healthcare industry, last year, Mr. Potter left his job as head of communications for CIGNA to assist "socially-responsible" organizations -- including those advocating for meaningful health care reform -- achieve their goals. Since May 2009, Mr. Potter has worked for the Center for Media and Democracy's (CMD) Senior Fellow on Healthcare. CMD was founded in 1993 as an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, public interest organization. CMD's mission is to promote transparency and an informed debate by exposing corporate spin and government propaganda and by engaging the public in collaborative, fair and accurate reporting. Potter has since testified before Congress (before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation) and appeared in several television interviews.
Most notably, on July 10, 2009, Potter was interviewed by Bill Moyers on PBS, and in that interview, he disclosed exactly how the for-profit healthcare industry put profits before patients, sharing some of the sleazier tactics used to drop patients when they are diagnosed with various illnesses, etc. -- including the industry's efforts to discredit Michael Moore's SiCKO movie!! It's pretty shocking!
See here for the full transcript, although the video below contains many of his most shocking admissions:
This week, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow interviewed Wendell Potter, and addressed some of the same topics (all within the context of our bigger debate on how to reform the U.S. healthcare "system" -- a term I use very loosely). We also learn that in 2007 alone, the CEOs at the insurance companies collected combined total compensation of $118.6 million-an average of $11.9 million each. See here for the Rachel Maddow interview with Wendell Potter:
Corporate Control of the Healthcare "Debate"?
Of course, in recent days, what has made the news on America's corporate-controlled (from the likes of Viacom, Time-Warner, Disney, GE, News Corp. and others who dominate much of the U.S. media today) news outlets?
A lot of news about protests (many of which had been staged by opponents) at various town-hall meetings taking place around the country meant to serve as discussions about Congressional moves to address healthcare reform. Absent from many of these stories are the facts that many of these "disruptions" are being staged and funded by organizations that have obvious vested interests in preserving the status quo. Now, I'm not really a die-hard Rachel Maddow fan, but I did happen to catch a clip you should probably catch which aired last night that about summarizes what's going on in this whole "debate":
Personally, I don't have an issue with protests even, but I do have an issue with organizations that are purposely and covertly misrepresenting themselves with a goal of stopping the discussion about reform altogether and presenting it as "news", which our media seem only too willing to suggest actually IS news.
Also, be sure to catch my previous posting on healthcare reform, or rather the lack thereof, here. What does anyone in the Diabetes O.C. have to say about this? Aren't we as a country entitled to a legitimate discussion? What about the media's role here?
The Los Angeles Times' blog is now reporting that supporters of the Obama healthcare reform proposal are now so outnumbered by paid opposition that they too are now recruiting paid supporters on Craigslist. My only response is that if the opposition is going that route, then supporters really have no other alternative unless they're willing to be steamrolled. Unfortunately, this drags the entire discussion into the gutter (literally) and denies Americans a fair and honest discussion about real healthcare reform!