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Blogger Profile: Wendell Potter

Following a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, Wendell left his position as head of communications for CIGNA, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, to help socially responsible organizations — including those advocating for meaningful health care reform — achieve their goals.

In widely covered testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee in June of 2009, Wendell disclosed how the insurance industry has developed and implemented strategic communications plans, based on deceptive public relations, advertising and lobbying efforts, to defeat reform initiatives.

His new book, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans, is an expose of health insurers and a stark warning that corporate spin is distorting our democracy.

Wendell is currently a senior analyst at the The Center for Public Integrity. His website is WendellPotter.com, and his twitter account is @WendellPotter.

Wendell Potter's Blogs

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Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

August 28th, 2012

Physicians' group will barnstorm conventions with truth-telling on ObamaCare

As the Republican convention gets underway today in Tampa, we can expect to hear the politicians and delegates gathered there — including GOP nominee Mitt Romney — rail against “Obamacare”, insisting that what we need instead of a “government takeover of health care” is “patient-centered” care, although what that would ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

August 23rd, 2012

Real-world health insurance math doesn't add up

Aetna’s had a lot to say lately about how business is good. The company disclosed last week that it made $458 million in profits this spring, and said it expected to make more money this year than executives previously thought possible. The firm also signaled it set aside three quarters ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

August 11th, 2012

"Path to Prosperity?" For Many Senior Citizens, VP Pick Ryan's Plan Would Be Path to the Poorhouse

If Americans who are embracing Rep. Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" -- and that now includes Mitt Romney -- spent a few minutes reviewing a few recent research reports, they just might conclude that the Wisconsin Republican's plan to reduce the deficit might better be renamed the "Path to the ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

July 30th, 2012

The Cost of Care for Colorado’s Victims

One of the reasons Americans seem so willing to tolerate the fact that 50 million of us are uninsured and almost 30 million more of us are underinsured is that most of us who have coverage assume we are OK. That nothing truly catastrophic will happen to us, and that, ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

July 23rd, 2012

A nice little gift from ObamaCare directly to you

I’ve often said the U.S. health care system is so complex that trying to understand it makes your hair hurt. Case in point: the Affordable Care Act runs more than 2,000 pages. I’ll grant you that it’s a massive piece of legislation — but lawmakers felt that’s what was needed ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

July 16th, 2012

Why insurers want ObamaCare's Medicaid business

The House of Representatives voted for the 33rd time last week to repeal ObamaCare, and for the 33rd time it was an exercise in futility. The Senate will ignore the House vote and allow the reform law to move forward, just as the Supreme Court did last month. House members ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

July 9th, 2012

Health care's community-based beginnings

Back during the debate on the Clinton health care reform proposal, insurance executives tried to convince lawmakers that they were on the same side of health care reform as consumers were, so they embraced the idea of “community rating” in which insurers charge everyone in a given community the same ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

July 2nd, 2012

Translating the insurance industry's feel-good rhetoric

Health insurers avoided their worst case scenario last week — the prospect of the Supreme Court striking down the individual mandate but letting the rest of the health care law, especially profit-threatening consumer protections, go forward. Now the industry can focus on a goal it has had all along: getting ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

June 25th, 2012

Flip-flop on health care reform casts President as modern-day Julius Caesar

Et tu, Ron? As President Obama read former Aetna CEO Ron Williams’ op-ed in The Wall Street Journal renouncing his support for a key provision of the health care reform law, he must have felt like Julius Caesar when Caesar realized, as he drew his last breath, that his close ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

June 18th, 2012

UnitedHealth Group's misleading promises

Several years ago, when I was still a health insurance company PR guy, I was accused by a furious CNBC producer of withholding important information when I cajoled her into having my CEO on “Squawk Box” to talk about some new initiative we were rolling out. “You played us like ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

June 11th, 2012

Insurance industry myths about the uninsured

In 2007, a few months before I left the health insurance industry, I was tasked to write a “white paper” designed to help convince media folks and politicians that the problem of the uninsured wasn’t much of a problem after all. If demographic data was sliced just so, I was ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

June 4th, 2012

Guess who would benefit from privatizing Medicare?

If you think the idea of privatizing Medicare has gone away, that the health insurance industry has thrown in the towel on one of its biggest goals, there was fresh evidence last week that you would be wrong. As I wrote more than a year ago — when Rep. Paul ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

May 29th, 2012

Could nonprofit health insurance plans be the real reformers?

When members of Congress who led the effort to overhaul the U.S. health care system saw the public option slipping away, some of them suggested that a viable alternative would be the fostering of nonprofit health insurance CO-OPs (Consumer Oriented and Operated Plans) throughout the country. I was among the ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

May 23rd, 2012

Spinning the Supreme Court's 'Obamacare' decision

I learned that Mitt Romney had won the Nebraska Republican presidential primary last week via a “Breaking News” e-mail alert from POLITICO.  It wasn’t the news from the Cornhusker state, however, that caught my eye. It was instead the health insurance industry’s decision to spend our premium dollars on an ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

May 16th, 2012

Palin's rhetoric torpedoed Medicare savings

We’ll be hearing a lot from politicians this summer and fall about the urgency of dealing with Medicare spending, which will begin to rise sharply in the coming years as increasing numbers of the country’s 75 million baby boomers turn 65. If we’re fortunate, some courageous candidates will call for ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

May 8th, 2012

False Quick Fixes for American Health Care: Silver bullets haven't really reduced costs or improved service

You’ve heard it before. Let’s deep six ObamaCare and replace it with a trio of sure-fire free-market solutions to the problems that plague our health care system. All that’s really needed, we’re told, is to pass tort reform, allow insurance companies to sell policies across state lines and encourage people ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

April 30th, 2012

Putting our premiums into medical care, not profits

The recent news from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation that health insurers will have to send rebate checks totaling more than $1.3 billion to Americans this summer was especially gratifying to me. It more than justified my decision three years ago to clue members of Congress in on how insurance ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

April 23rd, 2012

Shareholders raising ruckus about CEO pay

One of my responsibilities when I was head of corporate communications at Cigna was to help ensure that the company’s annual meeting of shareholders ran smoothly and, if at all possible, attracted no negative publicity. I always dreaded the annual meeting because you really never knew if one or more ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

April 9th, 2012

Why the Insurance Industry Needs Obamacare to Stay in Business

If there is a group of people more anxious about how the Supreme Court will rule on the health care reform law than President Obama and the millions of Americans who are already benefiting from it, it is health insurance executives. Not only have their companies been spending millions of ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

April 2nd, 2012

Hope the Supremes Strike Down ObamaCare? Get Ready for PanemCare

Since Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia clearly isn't going to take the time to actually read the health care reform law before he decides whether or not it's constitutional, maybe he and a couple of his buddies on the High Court can catch a screening of The Hunger Games, the ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

March 13th, 2012

How We All Got Stuck Paying the Medical Bills of the Woman Who Sued to Kill Obamacare

If I were trying to persuade the Supreme Court later this month that Obamacare should not be declared unconstitutional, I would tell the story of the woman who was the original named plaintiff in the lawsuit filed by the National Federation of Independent Business, one of the fiercest critics of ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

March 6th, 2012

Coming Soon: The End of Health Insurers As We Know Them -- By Self-Inflicted Wounds

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini caused quite a stir when he said at a Las Vegas conference a few days ago that the insurance industry as we know it is, for all practical purposes, a dinosaur on the verge of extinction. Time to sing, "Ding dong the witch is dead"? Not ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

February 29th, 2012

Health Care Myths and Realities: Seeking the Truth About High-Deductible Plans

Recent news releases from two very different organizations paint entirely separate pictures of what can happen to people once they sign up for a high-deductible health plan. One release from Cigna, the giant for-profit insurance firm I used to work for, would lead us to believe that human resource managers ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

February 21st, 2012

Taking the initiative in a struggle against excessive rate increases

The biggest applause line Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) got at a gathering of Democratic Party activists last week came when she endorsed a ballot initiative to give the California Insurance Commissioner power to reject excessive health insurance rate increases. Consumer advocates there decided to go the ballot initiative route after ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

February 13th, 2012

This Just In, insurers Required to Speak Plain English

HHS stiffens spine and requires health insurance companies to clearly explain their policies. All the attention paid to the debacle about coverage for contraceptives over the past several days obscured a broader, undisputed win for all consumers, including those who are pregnant or about to be pregnant. While the media ... continue reading

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Apr 3rd
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Apr 1st
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Mar 31st
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Mar 24th
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Mar 19th
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Mar 19th
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Mar 14th
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Mar 14th
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