This week, Wendell Potter has been making his way through California on a book tour, promoting Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans.
The book recounts his time as a senior insurance executive at Cigna, and then his transition after retirement to an outspoken critic of the insurance industry and of corporate public relations. He came to many people’s attention on June 24, 2009, as a “whistleblower” testifying in the Senate on the pending health reform bill:
“My name is Wendell Potter, and for twenty years I worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies. I saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick—all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.” That statement began a very public effort to spotlight insurance industry practices. Wendell Potter’s actions, including appearing regularly in print and on MSNBC and other cable TV outlets, helped provide a counterbalance to insurance industry attempts to undermine the bill.
When the bill passed, he could have just faded back into the woodwork, but he signed up for real work, as a designated consumer representative at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. He served along with our Health Access colleague Beth Abbott and about a dozen others, to counter the pressure for literally hundreds and hundreds of insurance company lobbyists–on issues relating to the implementation of the new federal health law. He’s helped provide a spotlight to the behind-the-scenes work at the NAIC, publishing op-eds in the Huffington Post and elsewhere about what is going on, and working with advocacy groups like Health Care for America Now!
Working closely with Wendell at the NAIC, we appreciate his work and recommend his book. We are happy to cosponsor an event for him to speak today at The California Endowment, an event that quickly filled up. There are other events in Pasadena and elsewhere before he leaves the state. But even if you don’t get to see him in person, we hope his voice will be heard as we embark on the critical role to fulfill the promise of the new federal law.