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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

March 6th, 2014

Dizzying array of options in Obamacare can lead to expensive mistakes

With fewer than 30 shopping days left before Obamacare open enrollment ends on March 31, if you want to get coverage through the health insurance marketplace and avoid having to pay a penalty, you should log on sooner rather than later. Although most of the problems with HealthCare.gov have been ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

January 27th, 2014

Pay no attention to those insurance lobbyists behind the Medicare curtain!

If you go to 601 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 500, in Washington, D.C. in search of what you’ve been told is the address of a grass roots organization concerned about “cuts” to Medicare, you will likely be surprised what you find there. You will indeed find an organization that is ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

December 16th, 2013

Fighting over Aetna's disclosure: Good government group claims insurer isn't coming clean about all its election spending

Two days before Aetna told Wall Street it would not allow policyholders who received cancellation notices to renew their cancelled policies next year, as President Obama had requested, the company was accused in a lawsuit of sending out false and misleading statements to shareholders about what it was spending to ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

November 26th, 2013

As glitches fade, Obamacare approval will rise

The latest polls on Obamacare are bleak. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that almost half of those questioned last week had an unfavorable opinion of the law. Just a third had a favorable opinion, even less than the 40 percent support for the law in the Nov. 14 Gallup ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

November 18th, 2013

Sorting out why insurers cancel policies: Blaming Obamacare is a smokescreen obscuring the relentless search for profits

Now that President Obama has said it’s OK with him if insurance companies keep their policyholders in health plans that don’t meet the standards established by the Affordable Care Act, at least for another year, the big question is whether insurers will take him up on the offer. The answer: ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

November 12th, 2013

Separating myth from reality on Obamacare

My heart sank when I got an email late last month from my friend Robert, who has been battling multiple sclerosis for the past decade. He wrote to tell me that he was among the many Americans who in recent weeks received letters from their insurance companies saying that their ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

October 24th, 2013

Government needs to fix Obamacare glitches — fast

Now that the federal government is open again, the attention of the public, media and, of course, politicians, will turn, as it should, to whether the Obama administration will be able to make the glitch-plagued health insurance exchanges work. I wasn’t at all surprised that people were having a hard ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

October 7th, 2013

Shutdown takes focus off Obamacare glitches

If health care reform advocates and Obamacare lovers haven’t done so already, I suggest they send the House Republican caucus a thank you note.Because of the actions they’ve taken to shut down the federal government, congressional Republicans have kept the Washington media so preoccupied over the past several days that ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

October 2nd, 2013

Beginning of the end for major health insurers

I’ve often said that the Affordable Care Act is the end of the beginning of reform. Starting October 1, 2014, that law will signify the beginning of the end of the health insurance industry as we know it. As I’ve noted previously, my former CEO at Cigna said at a leadership ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

September 24th, 2013

Unions chafing at Obamacare provisions

President Obama’s meeting Friday with labor leaders likely wasn’t a get-together he wanted. And it wouldn’t have been necessary if his administration and Congressional Democrats had given unionized workers the same consideration they gave business leaders and insurance company executives when the Affordable Care Act was being drafted. As full ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

August 12th, 2013

Reality check on the Affordable Care Act: Misleading information, sloppy coverage are confusing the public about Obamacare

Not confused enough yet about how much health insurance might cost some of us next year when the consumer protections in Obamacare kick in? Just wait. It’s likely you’ll soon be far more confused — and alarmed — than you already are. Take, as an example, the CNNMoney story from ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

August 6th, 2013

What One Washington Could Learn From the Other About Reducing Health Care Spending

For decades, the American Medical Association and other health care special interests have pretty much had their way with Congress when it comes to Medicare. Even though the program is run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, members of Congress frequently exert their influence over that agency to ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

May 26th, 2013

Help Health Care Advocate Donna Smith Get the Care She Needs -- And Pay the $855 Aetna Is Demanding

The first time I saw Donna Smith, I was in the back row of a Sacramento theater watching the first public screening of a movie I had flown nearly 3,000 miles to see. It was June 12, 2007 and the movie was Sicko, Michael Moore's indictment of the U.S. health ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

April 23rd, 2013

The Higher Health Insurers' Claim Denial Rate, the Higher the CEO Pay

When you're shopping for health insurance, wouldn't it be great if you could find out every insurer's claim denial rate? And how much each one spent on lobbying and advertising -- and how much they paid their CEO? You can now find all of that information and more if you ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

March 12th, 2013

Don't Fall for TV Ads on Medicare From an Insurance Industry Front Group

Facing government cuts to one of their cash cows -- private Medicare plans -- health insurance companies have launched a multi-pronged campaign, financed by customer premiums, to persuade Congress to keep the cuts from going into effect next month. The industry's big PR and lobbying group, America's Health Insurance Plans, ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

November 26th, 2012

Giving thanks for regulation of insurance industry greed

Although it’s a few days past Thanksgiving, I’m still feeling grateful, even to much maligned federal employees. Last week bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services did us a big favor by resisting pressure from insurance company executives. Those executives wanted to keep charging some of us more ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

November 19th, 2012

The Usual Suspects Who Will Benefit From Gutting Obamacare Now Want You to Worry About 'Disruption'

Disruption. Get ready to hear that word many times in the coming weeks, especially if you hang out inside the Washington beltway. "Disruption" will be the new buzzword in an upcoming advertising campaign aimed at scaring us. The campaign is selling the idea that millions of Americans will face higher ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

November 12th, 2012

Translating Insurance-Speak: What the industry says about Obamacare isn't really what it means

Health insurers invested a lot of what you paid them in premiums in an effort to get more of their friends elected to Congress. As the Center for Public Integrity reported last month, the political action committees of the 11 largest health insurers and their biggest trade group—America’s Health Insurance ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

October 15th, 2012

Myths of the healthy uninsured

I understand where Mitt Romney was coming from when he said last week that Americans without health insurance don’t have to worry about dying at home. “We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance,” the GOP presidential nominee told members of ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

October 10th, 2012

Romney's phony answers to tough health care questions

During last week’s debate, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney once again pledged to repeal Obamacare, but he was light on details about what he would replace it with, other than to suggest that his administration would encourage states to come up with reform plans of their own. “What we did ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

October 1st, 2012

Documentary captures what's wrong with U.S. health care

If you want to get a clearer understanding not only of why the U.S. health care system fails so many of us but, more importantly, how we can transform it to make it the best in the world, go to the movies this weekend. Regardless of your political affiliation or ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

September 24th, 2012

Center series demonstrates dangers of 'captured' regulators

The months-long Center Public Integrity investigation into the Medicare program has uncovered a textbook example of the expensive consequences of  what’s known as “regulatory capture.” Doctors and hospitals are likely being overpaid billions of dollars, which is hastening the depletion of the Medicare trust fund, because lawmakers and regulators put ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

September 17th, 2012

Rather Not Go Bankrupt When You Get Sick? Another Reason to Support Obamacare

Politicians who are promising to repeal Obamacare won't find any evidence in the Kaiser Family Foundation's analysis of health insurance costs that the law has caused premiums to skyrocket, as many of those politicians have contended. On the contrary, premiums have increased on average only 4 percent over the past ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

September 10th, 2012

Maine's health care fantasy

What happened in Maine is a sobering reality check on the oft-repeated myth that getting rid of ObamaCare and other consumer protections is the answer to our health care problems. If the government will just get out of the way, the myth-makers would have us believe, the free market will ... continue reading

Wendell Potter

Corporate Whistleblower and Author

September 8th, 2012

The illusory promise of free-market health care miracles

While listening to the promises to repeal ObamaCare during the Republican National Convention, I was reminded of what those of us in the health insurance industry said when our friends in Congress were able to block passage of President Clinton’s health care reform legislation 18 years ago. Like the politicians ... continue reading

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