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Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 9, 2010
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Potter is a journalist with the ability to write clearly and concisely about a complicated field. This is a MUST READ book if you are at all concerned about the state of American health care. There's a GOOD reason that the US is the only industrialized nation without government supported and operated medical care for its citizens. The reason is GIGANTIC PROFIT. Potter's background as a former PR executive for CIGNA and other larger insurers helps him rip back the covers from the immoral, deceitful and non-humanitarian actions of health care insurance companies. And when you hear your favorite Rethuglican talk about "adjustments" to Medicare and Social Security, be SURE that it's a ploy to turn a profit for someone from involvement in these two essential programs. Please, please read this book! Your life may depend on it!
How do they do it? It was played out in 2009 which provided a textbook example of the healthcare industry in action. While healthcare executives were pledging their support for President Obama's program to create a single payer, universal healthcare program, they hired a top public relations firm to sabotage the administration's efforts. This would include creating front organizations that appeared to be concerned about the health of the public, organizations armed with bogus studies on the limitations of universal healthcare, and how much more it would cost with limited services e.g. a bureaucrat is going to decide if grandma lives.
Another part of the front group is a grassroots effort to make it look like there is a popular uprising against healthcare reform. Front groups hire troublemakers to disrupt town hall meetings rather than participate in them. They bus them to the site, show them where to stand and when to interrupt so they can have the greatest impact. It's all part of the PR.
Hand-in-hand with these efforts is to seek legislation to thwart any effort at universal coverage. The tactics included using fear, fear of losing jobs, a decline in healthcare, or having to wait for urgent medical attention, and so on. Another tactic is "glittering generalities." These generalities are appeals to "patriotism," the "American way of life," or "democracy." Finally, testimonials of experts, approval of respected organizations, and pretending to be Washington outsiders (even while they are lobbying hard to influence representatives to get out your message), are some more of the tactics used by successful PR firms whose websites don't advertise their list of clients.
Representatives also came out by the dozen during the debate. Zach Wamp, from Tennessee's third district got out a different message on MSNBC. His message was: 1) Democrats want to redistribute the wealth in the country, taking from people who had healthcare to give it to people who don't. 2) Some people cannot afford healthcare insurance, but some people can and don't bother. They end up in the emergency room on our dime. Illegal immigrants, the honorable representative added, were using our healthcare that was costing taxpayers millions. Potter knew everything that Wamp was saying came from a PR campaign because it was the PR campaign Wendell Potter created.
The author takes apart each talking point of the healthcare industry's PR campaign, campaigns that have successfully played a president, representatives, and the public like a Stradivarius (the author's own metaphor). Ever since insurance companies have become profit-making organizations, they have only been beholden to the stockholder and not their policyholders, and the former only want to see the profit--not an increase in services. It has meant major insurance companies have robbed and cheated their policy holders while conning the public that they are only the victims who have had to raise premiums because of a lack of tort reform, burgeoning costs, and unnecessary treatments and therapies by doctors. What they haven't told you is that their premiums have increased hundreds fold above the rate of inflation, and that their profits have never been higher. Executives reap the benefits with huge salaries, and private jets that offer superb fare on china with gold inlay.
By May of 2007, and by his own admission, Wendell Potter was spinning out of control. He had become a heavy consumer of beer because it helped him numb his conscience and prepare for another day of rationalizations and denial. After speaking with his family, he quit his high six-figure salary. He had lost the edge, the motivation to spin for CIGNA.
This book represents his second decision after quitting his job. He could no longer sit on the sidelines and listen to PR spinmeisters and charmers lie to the public or before Congress. His testimony before Congress and this book is his "mea maxima culpa," his attempt at redemption and ablution. It was obvious from the Introduction that I was reading a book by an accomplished writer who started his career in journalism, not to mention that he had a story to tell, a burden to release, and he told it very well.
I couldn't stop turning the pages.
Sicko (Special Edition) The author devotes a chapter to how the healthcare industry attempted to counter the movie's message and destroy its influence on the public. That is what makes this well worth seeing as the book is well worth reading.
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