Ok, so haven't seen anyone write about this, and while we right here all know that the insurance companies literally go over dead bodies in their profiteering ways, in an interview with Bill Moyers that aired tonight on PBS, Wendell Potter, former Head of Corporate Communications at CIGNA, admits that Michael Moore nailed it on the head in his movie, Sicko. It's a 30 minute interview that comes close to a confessional of the health insurance industry's enslavement to Wall Street, and I really really hope everybody in this country gets to see this. It's the only thing you'll ever need to show if anyone ever questions the public option or rambles on about the dangers of government bureaucrats. IT'S THE ONLY TV YOU'LL EVER NEED TO WATCH TO KNOW THAT WE'VE BEEN COLLECTIVELY GETTING JACKED.
It starts with Potter, the high paid head of public relations for CIGNA getting out of his corporate office and taking a trip to his native Tennessee:
Potter attended a "health care expedition," a makeshift health clinic set up at a fairgrounds, and he tells Bill Moyers, "It was absolutely stunning. When I walked through the fairground gates, I saw hundreds of people lined up, in the rain. It was raining that day. Lined up, waiting to get care, in animal stalls. Animal stalls.
He talks about how a lot of these executives, including himself, are so removed from the real world, that the insured are no more than just numbers.
And that was my problem. I had been in the industry and I'd risen up in the ranks. And I had a great job. And I had a terrific office in a high-rise building in Philadelphia. I was insulated. I didn't really see what was going on. I saw the data. I knew that 47 million people were uninsured, but I didn't put faces with that number.
Then he says that everything about Canada and England that was reported in Michael Moore's Sicko was true and that they made a costly and concerted effort to derail the message of the movie.
We shouldn't fear government involvement in our health care system. There is an appropriate role for government, and it's been proven in the countries that were in that movie.
Potter then goes on in a very calm manner to indict the entire insurance industry for putting profit before people. What's most revealing is that ultimately all roads lead back to Wall Street. If an insurance company actually wanted to do good and take care of people they would pretty much go under and be swallowed up, because it's all just about the profit margins. In one particularly galling segment, he cites this example.
If one company's medical loss ratio was 77.9 percent, for example, in one quarter, and the next quarter, it was 78.2 percent. It seems like a small movement. But investors will think that's ridiculous. And it's horrible.
Medical loss ratio, of course, being the Orwellian term for the actual HEALTH CARE, meaning the ultimate goal is to have as little percent of each dollar spent go to the treatment of the insured.
They then talk about the revolving door between insurance lobbyists and Washington, and how a lot of these politicians who defend the private insurances are bought and paid for and simply parrot talking points that the PR departments in those companies come up with. I'm telling you, the Godfather has nothing on this plot.
I recommend everyone go and watch this video and then forward it to as many people as you can.
Thanks for the rec list, nice to be initiated while howlin' at the moon. I really hope that this interview gets watched widely, it's a pivotal and even transcendent piece of journalism, the ultimate "The Emperor has no Clothes" moment.
While I have my five minutes under the almost full moon, my more eloquent moments often happen at A World of Words.
Update: people in the comments were suggesting that this would be a great time to rewatch Sicko, especially since Wendell Potter has come out to say it's the ultimate education tool. Thanks to teh google it can be imbibed in its full length right here.
The other idea was to ask Mike to have public viewing parties. I don't know how that would work, but I'm thinking of the big screens they set up in European downtowns for big soccer games. Now THAT would be cool. And if anyone could pull that off it would be Mike. firstname.lastname@example.org
Update [2009-7-11 17:45:30 by citisven]: 2 : I got the email Michael Moore sent out and it has this youtube link to the part of the interview where Potter talks about industry strategies of discrediting him: