Health Industry Practices Told to Domestic Policy Subcommittee

I offer a brief post with link to lengthy text. On September 16 of this year (2009), Wendell Potter testified to the federal Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Wendell Potter has been in positions of administrative power in the health insurance industry for 20 years. “… Wendell held a variety of positions at CIGNA Corporation over 15 years, serving most recently as head of corporate communications and as the company’s chief corporate spokesman….Prior to joining CIGNA, Wendell headed communications at Humana Inc., another large for-profit health insurer. Before that …. “ (similar career roles, Cigna as pinnacle: For profile see: )

Mr. Potter, earned a very high corporate Cigna income as VP for Public Relations. He was in charge of media campaigns to keep Cigna’s image shiny and ‘clean’. He flew in private corporate jets, enjoyed eating meals with gold-plated flatware. He had no conscious intent to change careers, no thought of changing his entire outlook on health insurance,

Quite innocently, while on holiday, out of curiosity alone, he attended a weekend “free health service clinics” run by R.A.M. (remote area medical). What he saw astonished him. With pressure from no one, by his own consciousness and fundamental decency, Wendell Potter shifted 180d.

From designer and over-seer of manipulation to mis-lead the public, he turned “whistle-blower”. Mr. Potter knows the health care insurance industry as well as anyone, knows all its practices, knows detail of profit, knows detail of frequency of claim denial, knows how ‘sub-contracting’ is used to get around paying a patient’s claim on insurance.

We could ask for more like Wendell Potter, and there are others. Part of this man’s value is that he “has a head for finance and figures”. As such, he is a “walking encyclopedia” of details we need to be truly informed on HC practices, and dangers that must be addressed.

Full text of Wendell Potter’s testimony to the Domestic Sub-committee here: .

At the same link, immediately following Mr. Potter’s testimony, is testimony by Linda Peeno, MD. She begins: (italics mine) “…Over three decades ago I obtained a hard-earned M.D. degree, expecting to practice medicine for the benefit of patients. After finishing medical school I had a series of jobs in which I functioned as a company doctor for several health plans. As I began to witness and participate in harm and death to patients, I left my lucrative corporate career and have spent the past 2 1/2 decades working to educate others about the inner workings of the American health insurance industry. …” She includes reference to a 1996 event, and inquiry, into a patient’s death: “…I naively expected the country to be shocked into action. Little changed happened since we are here again, and clips from that testimony have re-emerged with shocking timeliness. …”


We say we want “transparency” – this is transparency. Opportunity to “see” what’s really going on. Opportunity to observe govt. use of testimony information.

In “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, this outcome: (Wikipedia):  “During the course of the procession, a small child cries out, “the emperor is naked!” The crowd realizes the child is telling the truth. The Emperor, however, holds his head high and continues the procession.”

We “wisely”, “knowingly”, smile at the story.  As if we, too, are “the crowd”, realizing we’ve participated in a sham, ready to quit the foolishness.  That’s in the story. 

Real Life response suggests the crowd, and Washinton,

like the Emperor, prefer not to hear the child.

(or don’t have time to notice)

An Informed Citizen is a “well armed” citizen. – MaggieAnn

Additional on Wendell Potter, including the story of his “transformation”, and his early July prediction of what would develop in the ‘HC debate” (hint – he was ‘dead on’.): Bill Moyer’s interview.


About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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