It's a safe bet that big health insurance, big pharma, and heck, pretty much all of the "bigs" would prefer that you ignore an incendiary new book called "Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans."
It's written by Wendell Potter, former head of corporate communications for Cigna, who made it over the wall last year.
In his June 2009 Senate testimony, Potter bit to the bone the manicured hand that fed him very well by detailing how big health insurance intends to manipulate, obstruct, defy and circumvent the inconvenient portions of health care reform.
He should know; he helped design the campaign.
If you're suspect or opposed to "Obamacare," if you view universal coverage as "a takeover of America's health care system," if you believe that America's current health care system is the best in the world, and if you believe that health insurance companies are the victims of skyrocketing health care costs, you've been snowed, bamboozled and hoodwinked by Potter and his former colleagues.
I'm not saying that -- Potter is.
"People are wrong if they think that this is an industry that will police itself," he told me during a recent phone chat. "We're beginning to see the results of their dirty work in misleading Americans to where polls show that many, if not a majority, are opposed to the health care reform legislation that was passed. And that's exactly what the industry wanted."
Potter says once the bigs saw the growth potential in mandated universal coverage, the road to health care reform was as smooth as a fast-moving cafeteria line in which the major health insurers picked the reforms that held the greatest potential for profit. Sure, a few consumer protections crept onto the tray like brussels sprouts. They can be easily sidestepped or watered down later.
What of the incoming Congress with its Republican and Tea Party chants to "repeal and replace" health care reform? Potter predicts big health insurance will give the newbies their marching orders this way:
"We are the folks who helped to finance your campaigns and we're going to continue to do that as long as you will do the things that we'll ask you to do, and we like a lot of this bill. So just get over the idea that this will be repealed; it ain't going to be repealed and you're not going to do it. We want that individual mandate, we've got to have it. There are some things we don't like, such as the consumer protections, and that's what you really need to go at."
Expect to hear the health insurance bigs tout "market-based solutions" a lot in the coming months, Potter predicts. "That's the buzzword for more private sector involvement in the solutions, and of course behind that rhetoric is anti-consumer measures."
Potter doesn't hear much from his former colleagues these days, now that he's a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and a senior fellow on health care at the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy.
His new career goal: spot the spin and pin the tail on the bigs.
"I wish I didn't know what I know," says Potter. "I just have such worry for our democracy because of what I know and for the prospects of meaningful reform because of what I experienced as a part of it. It's not going to be easy for us frankly to restore democracy and get the sort of health care system that our citizens deserve."
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