The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Former insurance exec tells how industry threatens elected officials

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Last Friday night, Wendell Potter, former head of Corporate Communications at CIGNA, told Bill Moyers of insurance companies’ tactics, and their fear of reduced profits should a Medicare-type system be enacted by Congress.
clipped from
BILL MOYERS:  […] “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.”


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.

[Saying he thought Moore’s movie “hit the nail on the head,” Potter describes it:]

[H]is movie advocated that the government-run systems of other western democracies produce better health care outcomes […]

Potter said he was driven to speak out when “it became really clear to me that the industry is resorting to the same tactics they’ve used over the years […]
The companies “biggest concern” is … “a broader program like our Medicare program” which “could potentially reduce the profits of these big companies.”
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See part 1 of the interview here.

Indeed.  And we’ll see if our Congressmen and women will use government to further increase corporate profits or to begin to decrease the cost of healthcare to ordinary people. The industry’s spending a million dollars a day. Our only hope is in letters and letters and letters.

There’s link in the right sidebar.

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7 Responses

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  1. True enough as far as you went with it. But it’s still money calling the shots, so don’t complain that the wealthy use theirs. Get people together, ala Obama’s small donors, and buy your own politicians.


    July 13, 2009 at 3:20 pm

  2. True, but didn’t Obama’s “small donors” add up to enough for him to buy the election in ’08? That sort of shows that it’s more than just the rich who can do this. Of course it also shows that it’s money that matters and little else.


    July 13, 2009 at 11:46 am

    • I don’t believe there was ever a time when Obama trailed McCain, even before the ads. Ads may have increased the margin, but they didn’t “buy the election.”

      Second, as long as our elections are privately financed, I’d much rather see individuals giving rather small amounts to campaigns that to see big donors and industry tycoons and PACs doing the same.

      Lots of people giving small amounts is much less likely to result in obligations to big business that are large contributions. Politicians “dance with the one that brung ’em.”


      July 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm

      • jonolan brings up an interesting point, Monte, pot-shots at Obama notwithstanding.

        One of the things that I loved about McCain in 2000 was his talk of campaign finance reform. I honestly don’t think our government is ever going to work for the people as long as people or organizations with means are given special access in their roles as political patrons.

        It’s so frustrating and sad to me that our “Christian Nation” operates like this. As a nation, we serve Money. Whether it’s matters like this, or the way the FDA is seemingly a wholly owned subsidiary of the American phramaceutical industry.

        As a crazy software-guy, I’m privileged to have both Canadian and English friends, and all with whom I’ve spoken agree that, taken as a whole, their systems are better than ours hands-down.

        Joe Hayes

        July 15, 2009 at 12:33 am

  3. That’s nice. Isn’t fundamentally the same thing as Obama, through his hit-man, Emanuel, has threatened to do to Dems who might not vote in favor of his programs?


    July 13, 2009 at 10:03 am

    • I’m sure pressure is common on both sides.

      Obama, however, was elected; insurance companies are merely rich.

      This is an all-out competition between what’s best for most Americans and what’s best for industry profits, and the money the industry is spending to get its way – as compared to the influence we individuals have – is astronomical.

      They’re spending the money they gained by inflating our premiums to influence our Congress so they can keep inflating our premiums.


      July 13, 2009 at 10:22 am

      • We almost need a biblical-style hero to step up and martyr themselves to get this fixed, don’t we?

        Joe Hayes

        July 15, 2009 at 12:33 am

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