If you’ve never heard of Wendell Potter, don’t feel bad. I work in health policy and I didn’t recognize the name when it was mentioned to me last Thursday. Of course, I pretty much live the life of a reclusive graduate student who yearns anxiously to see the light of the real world before I die. So perhaps I’m not the best basis for comparison after all.
Anyway, if you don’t know who Wendell Potter is, you should, and that’s the purpose of today’s post. First of all, no, he’s not the cartoon guy in the chef’s hat on the box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. That’s another Wendell–and you should make his acquaintance, too. This Wendell Potter is the former Vice President of corporate communications at health insurance giant Cigna and the operative word is former. After having a come to Jesus moment a while back, Potter’s eyes were opened to the atrocities committed by the insurance companies. As a result, he quit his job and began making a strong case in support of health insurance reform. The beautiful thing is that he spent years on the inside and knows without a doubt that the things of which he speaks are true. Even more beautiful is that he is being led by his personal convictions–not a fat corporate paycheck–to do what he believes is right. The world could use a lot more people like that.
Potter now serves as the Senior Fellow on Health Care at the Center for Media and Democracy, where he also writes a blog worth reading. He’s also been a pretty huge hit on Capitol Hill. You can read some of his Congressional testimony here. His main message? Without a public option, health reform isn’t doing anything but lining the unbelievably deep pockets of the health insurance companies. What about the co-operatives that were discussed at one point. Might they do just as well to compete with private insurers? Why don’t you take a listen to what former Cigna executive Wendell Potter has to say about that: