The health care debate has entered into an interesting phase. With Congress no longer in session, the main debate seems to be between the president, who is now engaging the public personally at town hall meetings, and a crazy lady posting on Facebook in Alaska. Beyond such arguments, the media does occasionally present some meaningful information, such has seen in several interviews with Wendell Potter. An interview with Rachel Maddow is posted above.
Potter is a former senior executive at Cigna. I’ve previously quoted from his testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee testimony regarding how the insurance companies operate. He has also been interviewed on several television shows and Steve Benen has presented a good summary of some of his appearances. Potter has discussed how the insurance companies have fed the right wingers the misinformation we are now hearing and how it makes no sense to claim that the insurance companies could not compete against a public plan:
Last night, he spoke with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who almost seemed surprised by what he heard.
“The way it works is that the [insurance] industry will hire big PR firms that create these front groups that have names that have no association with the insurance industry,” Potter said.” And it is these front groups that do the things that you’re seeing right now that try to destroy health care reform by using terms like ‘government takeover’ of the health care system. Or we’re heading down toward a ‘slippery slope toward socialism.’ Or we’re going to ‘kill your grandpa’ because of this health care reform bill.
Cooper asked, “You’re saying that language is written by insurance companies?” Potter responded, “Absolutely.”
Asked about the right-wing activists, Potter explained that the industry has “very close ties with the conservative radio talk show hosts and commentators and editorial page writers and they feed the talking points.”
Potter was also spoke to Rachel Maddow this week. “I think that the health insurance industry deserves a great deal of the blame because they’re very much behind the town hall disruptions that you see and a lot of the deception that’s going on in terms of disinformation that many Americans apparently are believing,” he explained.
Asked about a public option, and whether private insurance companies would be able to compete alongside a government-run non-profit plan, Potter added, “Well, they could, absolutely. I’ve seen the health insurance industry change its business models many, many times. The insurance companies who operate now are very different from the companies that operated a few years ago. They adapt very quickly. And the one thing they know how to do is make money.”