On July 31, 2009, Bill Moyers Journal featured Wendell Potter, former head of corporate communications for CIGNA — the country's fourth largest health insurance company. Moyers introduced Potter to his viewers: "Altogether Potter spent nearly 2 decades playing for the side that has opposed health care reform from the Clintons forward: he sat on policy committees, crafted executive messages, cajoled the press and witnessed firsthand the promises made — and broken."
This is the link to the entire transcript and video, but I will highlight below some of the more important statements made by Potter who knows how the insurance companies and certain members of Congress have worked the system to stop any efforts to bring change to our health care system.
Last month, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, headed by Sen. Jay Rockerfeller, heard Mr. Potter's testimony:
WENDELL POTTER: The industry and its backers are using fear tactics, as they did in 1994, to tar a transparent and accountable, publicly accountable health care option as, quote, "government-run health care." What we have today, Mr. Chairman, is Wall Street-run health care that has proven itself an untrustworthy partner to its customers, to the doctors and hospitals who deliver care and to the state and federal governments that attempt to regulate it.
And this is to show anyone who believes Potter has exposed the insurance industry's duplicity and anti-health care Congressional representatives' venality because he had an axe to grind:
BILL MOYERS: You worked for CIGNA 15 years and left last year.
WENDELL POTTER: I did.
BILL MOYERS: Were you pushed out?
WENDELL POTTER: I was not. I left-- it was my decision to leave, and my decision to leave when I did.
BILL MOYERS: Were you passed over for a promotion?
WENDELL POTTER: Absolutely not. No.
BILL MOYERS: Had you been well-paid and rewarded by the company?
WENDELL POTTER: Very well-paid. And I, over the years, had many job opportunities, many bonuses, salary increases. So no, I was not. And in fact, there was no further place for me to go in the company. I was head of corporate communications and that was the ultimate P.R. job.
BILL MOYERS: Did you like your boss and the people you work with?
WENDELL POTTER: I did, and still do. I still respect them.
BILL MOYERS: And they gave you a terrific party when you left?
WENDELL POTTER: They sure did, yeah.
BILL MOYERS: So then why are you speaking out now?
WENDELL POTTER: I didn't intend to, until it became really clear to me that the industry is resorting to the same tactics they've used over the years, and particularly back in the early '90s, when they were leading the effort to kill the Clinton plan.
BILL MOYERS: We obtained a copy of the game plan that was adopted by the industry's trade association, AHIP. And it spells out the industry strategies in gold letters. It says, "Highlight horror stories of government-run systems." What was that about?
WENDELL POTTER: The industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that, you're heading down on the slippery slope towards socialism. So they have used scare tactics for years and years and years, to keep that from happening. If there were a broader program like our Medicare program, it could potentially reduce the profits of these big companies. So that is their biggest concern.
BILL MOYERS: And there was a political strategy. "Position Sicko as a threat to Democrats' larger agenda." What does that mean?
WENDELL POTTER: That means that part of the effort to discredit this film was to use lobbyists and their own staff to go onto Capitol Hill and say, "Look, you don't want to believe this movie. You don't want to talk about it. You don't want to endorse it. And if you do, we can make things tough for you."
BILL MOYERS: How?
WENDELL POTTER: By running ads, commercials in your home district when you're running for reelection, not contributing to your campaigns again, or contributing to your competitor.
To be continued...