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Friday, June 26, 2009

HEALTHCARE REFORM? NOT IF INSURERS CAN HELP IT

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 9:00 AM

Via Mother Jones: A former health insurance flak reveals the industry's dirty secrets to Columbia Journalism Review:

Trudy Lieberman: Why did you leave CIGNA?

Wendell Potter: I didn’t want to be part of another health insurance industry effort to shape reform that would benefit the industry at the expense of the public.

TL: Was there anything in particular that turned you against the industry?

WP: A couple of years ago I was in Tennessee and saw an ad for a health expedition in the nearby town of Wise, Virginia. Out of curiosity I went and was overwhelmed by what I saw. Hundreds of people were standing in line to get free medical care in animal stalls. Some had camped out the night before in the rain. It was like being in a different country. It moved me to tears. Shortly afterward I was flying in a corporate jet and realized someone’s insurance premiums were paying for me to fly that way. I knew it wasn’t long before I had to leave the industry. It was like my road to Damascus.

Potter goes on to describe how insurance companies will claim to support reform but fight it viciously behind the scenes: "They will work through what they refer to as 'third-party advocates' — people and groups that are ideologically aligned with them — and use their PR firms and lobbyists to do that work. These surrogates will reach out to radio and TV talk show hosts and conservative editorial writers."

He also explains why the media are woefully unprepared to counter this offensive.

Read the whole thing. It's part of an ongoing effort by CJR to broaden the coverage of healthcare reform. — Frank Lewis

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