Wendell Potter is a former vice president of communications for Cigna one of the top five health insurance companies in the country. He was shocked by what he saw at a health care exposition in Western Virgina where doctors and dentists came in to care for indigent patients in tents and actual horse stalls at a county fairground. His mind was changed about the services of the health care industry and the need for a national health care program.
For many years Potter felt that much of the criticism was unjust and that Cigna in fact did many good things. When there were unfortunate incidences of people being disallowed care, he worked to smooth things over. Then when national health care came up again in the latter part of the Bush Administration, Potter worked against it. He worked with his company and others to discredit SICKO and Michael Moore. And that is just the beginning. He prepared the actual talking points that were given to lawmakers telling them to use scare tactics to short circuit any health care legislation. Terms like “government takeover” “rationing of care” “long lines” “government bureaucrat between you and your doctor.” And sure enough those terms always turn up in Republican speeches because they have been told to use those phrases. For example, Zach Wamp, Congressman, has said that half of all people without health insurance simply decide to “go nekked” meaning that they actually choose to go without health care insurance. Of course that is not true, and Potter confirms it. Not even close.
Potter also confirms that health insurance firms will increase health insurance rates simply to improve their image on Wall Street or to make their stock more attractive to fund managers or individual investors. As stockholders themselves, top health insurance executives do what they can to increase earnings. Of course, in a private system that is what they are paid to do. But in order to do so, for example, Aetna cut eight million people from the various companies that it owns. It is ironic that while the insurance companies complain that a government bureaucrat will get between you and your doctor. But that happens all the time in private health care. And you have no Congressman or other government department that you can ask for help.
The video was from the Bill Moyers program. If you haven’t seen the whole thing, simply go to “Wendell Potter” on YouTube. Then tell anyone else who has not seen it to watch it too. Perhaps if enough people watch this, they will realize that it is time to change the private for-profit health care system and add a public option to start keeping them honest.