Insurance lobby's secret plan to attack 'Sicko' and Michael Moore
Saturday, July 11th, 2009
In an interview with PBS's Bill Moyers, a former insurance executive reveals a secret plan by the insurance industry to discredit Michael Moore's health care documentary, 'Sicko,' that also included lobbyists threatening negative, attack-style ads aimed at politicians supporting the formation of a government sponsored public health care option during election campaigns.
Michael Moore alerted us to Friday evening's PBS Bill Moyer's Show interview with Wendall Potter, a former executive with insurance giant CIGNA:
We've just been informed that Bill Moyers, on his show tonight, will expose for the first time the health insurance industry's secret campaign against Michael Moore and his film, "Sicko." It contains a stunning revelation and admission by a top health insurance executive -- the former head of publicity for CIGNA, one of the top health insurance companies in the country -- that the disinformation and attacks on Michael and the film were extensive and well-planned. Their job was to stop the movie from reaching a wide audience (and, more importantly, from having the widespread political impact the industry feared "Sicko" would have).
Wendell Potter, former Head of Corporate Communications at CIGNA (which provides health insurance to nearly 70 percent of the Fortune 100 companies) admits that, in fact, "Sicko" "hit the nail on the head" and told the real truth about how much better people in other countries have it when it comes to their health care.
From PBS's website:
In his first television interview since leaving the health insurance industry, Wendell Potter tells Bill Moyers why he left his successful career as the head of Public Relations for CIGNA, one of the nation's largest insurers, and decided to speak out against the industry. "I didn't intend to [speak out], 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."
Potter began his trip from health care spokesperson to reform advocate while back home in Tennessee. Potter attended a "health care expedition," a makeshift health clinic set up at a fairgrounds, and he tells Bill Moyers, "It was absolutely stunning. When I walked through the fairground gates, I saw hundreds of people lined up, in the rain. It was raining that day. Lined up, waiting to get care, in animal stalls. Animal stalls."
Looking back over his long career, Potter sees an industry corrupted by Wall Street expectations and greed. According to Potter, insurers have every incentive to deny coverage — every dollar they don't pay out to a claim is a dollar they can add to their profits, and Wall Street investors demand they pay out less every year. Under these conditions, Potter says, "You don't think about individual people. You think about the numbers, and whether or not you're going to meet Wall Street's expectations."