Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Their relentless search for profits . . .

Canada has a well financed lobby aiming to Americanize healthcare in this country. The objective is not to improve our wellness, it is to open new markets to multinational corporations. I believe there are numerous ways to improve delivery of medical services in Canada but copying the broad system of our southern neighbors is not among them. The USA has the world's most expensive healthcare but not the world's best healthcare.

Wendell Potter is a senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity, a fellow at the Center for Media and Democracy, and a consumer liaison representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. He has appeared in high-profile interviews with Bill Moyers, Bob McChesney and others. Potter's previous work as an executive of CIGNA, one of America's largest health insurers, equips him to comment on delivery of healthcare in the USA.

The Guardian wrote about Potter in 2009,
When an insurance firm boss saw a field hospital for the poor in Virginia, he knew he had to speak out. . . [Potter was] visiting relatives in the poverty-ridden mountain districts of northeast Tennessee. He saw an advert in a local paper for a touring free medical clinic at a fairground just across the state border in Wise County, Virginia.

Potter, who had worked at Cigna for 15 years, decided to check it out. What he saw appalled him. Hundreds of desperate people, most without any medical insurance, descended on the clinic from out of the hills. People queued in long lines to have the most basic medical procedures carried out free of charge. Some had driven more than 200 miles from Georgia. Many were treated in the open air. Potter took pictures of patients lying on trolleys on rain-soaked pavements.

For Potter it was a dreadful realisation that healthcare in America had failed millions of poor, sick people and that he, and the industry he worked for, did not care about the human cost of their relentless search for profits . . .
You can listen to Wendell Potter talking to Media Matters with Bob McChesney. Here is a podcast of the program from January 9. Robert W. McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois.

Potter is also engaged in public dialog with the global PR firm Edelman which complained about the tough critique in his book Deadly Spin, of the PR industry and its campaigns that deceive consumers.



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