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Fascinating glimpse at the "men" behind the curtain,
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This review is from: Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans (Hardcover)Health care continues to limp on in the United States. We are ranked 46th out of all the Top 50 nations for health care in the world. Part of the issue is that health care is run like any other business and yet it isn't truly a business--profiting on someone's else's health or denying coverage for a pre-existing condition (or stating that a technique is experimental when, in fact, it isn't so as to deny coverage and keep the patient alive)is a form of gambling but it gambles with people's lives which makes it Wendell Potter worked for what he would probably characterize as the "enemy" now for over twenty years. As a PR executive he would weave lies into a positive "truth" for the company he worked for (Cigna) making it appear that they were always doing the right thing for their patients. Using statistics to lie is one thing (for example dropping people off the unemployment rolls that are reported to make it appear that the nation is covering when it isn't)but Potter would often twist the truth or help craft messages to appeal to middle America to scare the public from reform in health care.
One day Potter had an awakening and realized what he was doing was wrong leaving the industry that had nurtured him and becoming an advocate for proper health care and a government based system to force corporations to play fair. He just couldn't stomach hiding greed behind the veneer of double speak falling into a rabbit hole with language that only George Orwell would recognize. He chronicles his rise in the industry and his disillusionment and how the media is manipulated, patients, government to make decisions that are profiting major corporations at the cost of our health and lives. This is as much the story of his awakening as it is about the PR manipulation of the public around health care issues and trying to demonize the discussion of universal healthcare as part of the debate.
Potter's exceptional book "Deadly Spin" takes us behind-the-scenes into the wheeling and dealing that goes on with multiple PR flacks that try and spin doctor any change that threatens their profit as bad for the average consumer. Potter gives us a history of the PR game to help us understand WHY and HOW this is unethical (especially by the ethics guidelines dicated by the PR association).
The health care industry from health plans to pharmaceuticals have for too long had access to lawmakers (using the money that we pay them) to push forward their own agenda and "buy" politicians in Washington; that's nothing new it just just become more blatant than before. Using misinformation, front groups to suggest that any sort of reform is bad, these organizations have been directing America down a path with overgrown foilage and rough terrain where the patient must always suffer. Potter's book takes the curtain that these companies hide behind and let's us see the thought process, innner workings and how misinformation manipulates the public to make the wrong choices while allowing politicians to make those choices knowing they are wrong without ramifications.
Is "Universal Healthcare" the way to go? I don't know but I do know that the insurance industry is scared of it. Potter points out how people like him would manipulate the media and politicians to paint Universal Healthcare as "communist" or "socialist" in nature to taint any and all intelligent discussion about the positives and negatives scaring people away before dialog had even begun.
Potter suggests that having some sort of system like this in place would be helpful in redefining the way we take care of our health. The recent changes with Obama Care he points out aren't perfect but is a step in the right direction (--his complaint was that corporate America shaped it (this is Potter's opinion mind you I don't know that I agree with him on this point but it is food for thought).
I don't know that I agree with all of Potter's suggestions (for example I think that given our economy Obama Care should have been a lower priority--right in the middle of the worst economic downturn in ages-- and when it did become a priority it was so badly compromised that the changes--small as they were and some positive--are meaningless in the over all big picture)but I have to admire him for waking up from the money inspired opiate-like dream that has entranced everyone else in his former industry. I also feel that Potter would have done better to give us more in depth examples of why the system breaks down consistently but what we do get is pretty embarrassing.
Regardless of where you stand on healthcare-- if you believe or don't believe in universal healthcare--Potter's book is essential reading for understanding the flaws in our system and how corporate profit continues to dictate who gets coverage, who doesn't and why we are ranked so poorly compared to other nations when it comes to health care.
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Initial post: Nov 26, 2010 10:31:11 AM PST
Rock star says:
How, in God's name, can you, in good conscience, frame health care with the statement "if you believe or don't believe in universal health care"? That would be like framing the issue about food "If you believe in eating food or don't believe in eating food". You are providing a false choice. No moral, self-respecting human being on this earth should be against providing universal health care for everyone. To even suggest that this should be up for debate is morally reprehensible.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2010 11:40:23 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 26, 2010 11:52:30 AM PST
Johnny b- Your analogy is flawed--it's not about whether or not you're going to eat or not eat but WHAT you're going to eat--junk food vs. food that is good for you. We have ANOTHER choice whether or not you choose to believe in it. There are many people that don't and my point is to include them in the discussion. "Universal Healthcare" has been demonized by the insurance media and politicized without looking at it as a possible choice or considering it logically or fairly.
Not everyone believes in universal healthcare for a variety of reasons (usually because they are afraid of it as an example of "big government" and "socialism" because they've been misled into believing that's what the term means). Whether or not one believes in universal healthcare, it's clear that we have a very flawed system the way it is set up now. It doesn't work for the reasons the author points out.
I'd suggest focusing on the big picture and not on one sentence. It's important to frame the discussion properly and fairly.
To ask the question IS important for the reasons I mentioned and isn't morally reprehensible but designed to include both those who believe in universal healthcare and those that don't so that we can arrive at a decision that everyone is pleased with but will provide the solution(s) we need. When I last checked the whole point of democracy is to consider all sides of the debate and get those who agree and disagree to seek a solution that we can all agree on and not to have one side or the other dictate what we should do without a discussion or consideration of the alternatives.
The point of my review was to get people to read the book and consider Potter's discussion of the issues.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2010 11:46:11 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 1, 2010 11:49:25 AM PST
I think you are certainly correct that the issue of universal health care should be discussed instead of being demonized. And one of the first questions that should be raised is: Why is the United States the only advanced, industrialized country in the world that does not have UHC? Another question that should be asked is: Why is it that soon after Obama took office and convened a meeting of over one hundred people to discuss the health care issue, not one person representing the view point of universal health care was allowed to participate in that meeting? One strongly suspects that is because the fix was in as a quid pro quo arrangement had been in the works since the 2008 presidential campaign when the insurance and pharmaceutical industries had contributed approximately $20 million to Obama's campaign.
Unfortunately, it should probably come as no great surprise to anyone that the United States has not joined the rest of the Free World in adopting a universal health care system that would benefit everyone instead of just the privileged few given the fact that the word socialism is treated like a four letter word in this country.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2010 2:23:47 PM PST
I agree with all the points you make. Originally Obama wanted a Universal Healthcare option but quickly saw the chance of that disappear although I think it had as much to do with those that shaped the policy outside of Obama's administration as well as those within (Ms. former Speaker of the House I'm looking at you).
Regardless of political affiliations the changes were railroaded through without a chance to intelligently question some of the choices and methods for acheiving them.
Someone SHOULD have brought that to the table and probably did only to have it tabled.
Posted on Jan 14, 2011 7:23:36 AM PST
Here's why 70% of American adults didn't want ObamaCare...
A recent "Investor's Business Daily" article provided very
interesting statistics from a survey by the United Nations
International Health Organization.
Percentage of men and women who survived a cancer five years
Percentage of patients diagnosed with diabetes who received
treatment within six months:
Percentage of seniors needing hip replacement who received it
within six months:
Percentage referred to a medical specialist who see one within
Number of MRI scanners (a prime diagnostic tool) per million people:
Percentage of seniors (65+), with low income, who say they are in
I don't know about you, but I don't want "Universal Healthcare"
comparable to England or Canada. Not now, not ever.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2011 7:23:51 AM PST
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2011 7:24:09 AM PST
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2011 7:36:53 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2011 7:39:55 AM PST
I'm not suggesting (nor is the author) that Universal Healthcare be the ONLY option--if it had been offered as an option however it would force insurance companies to be more competitive when it comes to coverage and offer coverage to those that cannot afford it and don't qualify for state/Medicare coverage. Offering it as an option doesn't mean everyone has to accept it.
One fo the issues that does disturb me about Obamacare is that 1) we'll have to pay taxes on it and weren't really given a choice (although they would have to find some way to pay for UHC) and 2) it's administered by the IRS. I personally think that it was poorly designed and handled nevertheless as the author points out in his book it is a first step that hopefully we will learn from and while far from perfect it is at least a tentative step.
I'd also be curious as to the source of the statistics (where "Investors Business Daily" pulled their statistics from--I work in the pharma business which should predispose me against the option of Universal Healthcare but in the side I've worked in I've seen so much mismanagement that, well, I've changed my mind. So it is fairly easy to skew statistics and we've seen both the current and previous administrations do that when it works to their advantage as well as the insurnace companies, pharma companies, the government with unemployment statistics--for example they stop counting anyone who is out of work longer than a certain period of time artifically deflating or inflating the numbers).
I think the confusion is that a lot of folks assume its an all or nothing option i.e., Universal Healthcare or private insurnace but I'd prefer the option of both.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2011 9:13:37 AM PST
Unfortunately, as to be expected, the comments from Angelo Mysterioso [which he apparently felt compelled to post not once but three times] is just another example of how uninformed so many Americans are in this country or of the propaganda that one finds from those on the right. What Mr. Angelo has done is, again, all too common with so many people in this country and that is to conflate Obama's health care reform package with universal health care. This cannot be emphasized enough: It is not the same.
Here is why. Obama's health care plan would "mandate" that people buy policies from private insurers, without any guarantees of affordable premiums or adequate coverage. The "public option", which Obama originally advocated for quite strongly, is now no longer even part of the package. Obama's health care plan will slash spending and benefits for the federal government's Medicare program by $500 billion. It will impose a tax in some form on employer-provided insurance-supposedly aimed at expensive "Cadillac" plans, but in reality affecting any insurance that has decent benefits.
One of the biggest reasons why the Democrats' plan should not be confused with UHC is because Obama's plan makes sure that the insurance companies will still reap the benefits that they have been receiving for many years. Under Obama's plan the FOR-PROFIT insurance companies are still a major part of his plan. In those countries which have UHC the insurance companies are NON-PROFIT which then means that the insurance companies in those countries will not, unlike in the United States, rip off their citizens. That is a huge difference between the broken-down mercenary health care system that is in place in this country and what is found in every advanced country in Europe and Japan.
Not only are these for-profit insurance companies kept in place, but Obama's plan pours about $500 billion of public money into these companies over 10 years while also mandating that people buy these companies' products for whatever they charge.
A study done by the Harvard Medical School in 2009 has pointed out that 45,000 Americans die each year because they are unable to receive basic health care in this country. This then means that under Obama's puny health care plan, the majority of which does not go into effect until 2014, approximately 180,000 Americans will die by the time Obama's plan finally goes into effect. Those numbers, despite what Angelo Mysterioso would have us believe, simply do not happen in those countries which implement universal health care for its citizens.
Again, the hope is that Americans will not be gullible enough to believe what Angelo M. has said as what Obama and the Democrats have put forth is completely different from those countries that UHC. Also, the statistics that Angelo M. has produced are somewhat deceptive as he only lists two countries which have universal health care while ignoring the fact that there are about a dozen other countries which also provides UHC for its citizens. One would also think that with the figures that Angelo has cited that the United States would be considered one of the top countries, if not THE top country, in the word regarding health care. But as a study from the World Health Organization points out, this is far from being the case as it ranks the United States 37th among the rest of the world in terms of quality health care [that would include such categories as infant mortality, longevity of its citizens, number of hospitals, availability of physicians, etc.] despite the fact that the U.S. spends more per capita on its health care plan than every other country in the world. The country that was ranked #1 by the WHO was France which [gasp!], employs a universal health care system for its citizens.
To paraphrase from Mr. Angelo Mysterioso, I don't know about you, but I would rather have Universal Health Care in this country than the inefficient health care system that is so rampant in the United States and that has made sure that so many Americans end up dying so prematurely and is a situation that simply does not occur in any country that has Universal Health Care.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2011 9:21:18 AM PST
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