Saturday, August 29 I had the good fortune to speak at a community rally for health care reform in a city park in downtown Portland, Oregon. It was a broad-based and diverse group with many signs and placards supporting the 'public option' being debated by Congress, and others calling for ' reform like that working effectively in other countries such as Canada. Here is what I said:
I would like to begin by apologizing to all of you for the role I played 15 years ago in cheating you out of a reformed health care system. Had it not been for greedy insurance companies and other special interests, and their army of lobbyists and spin-doctors like I used to be, we wouldn’t be here today.
I’m ashamed that I let myself get caught up in deceitful and dishonest PR campaigns that worked so well, hundreds of thousands of our citizens have died, and millions of others have lost their homes and been forced into bankruptcy, so that a very few corporate executives and their Wall Street masters could become obscenely rich.
(Bankruptcy now up to 64 percent for Medical Bills of all bankruptcies by Americans, about half who have so-called health insurance. Jim)
But It was only during the last few years of my career that I came to realize the full scope of the harm my colleagues and I had caused, and the lengths that insurance companies will go to increase their profits at the expense of working families.
As I told the Senate Commerce Committee two months ago, the higher up the corporate ladder I climbed, the more I could see how insurance companies confuse their customers and dump the sick – all so they can satisfy those Wall Street masters.
I described for the senators how insurers make promises they have no intention of keeping, how they flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and how they make it nearly impossible to understand -- or even to obtain -- information consumers need.
I also told the Committee how the industry has conducted duplicitous and well-financed PR and lobbying campaigns every time Congress has tried to reform our health care system -- and how its current behind-scenes-efforts may well shape reform in a way that benefits Wall Street far more than average Americans.
I noted that, just as the industry did 15 years ago when it led the effort to kill the Clinton reform plan, it is using shills and front groups to spread lies and disinformation to scare Americans away from the very reform that would benefit them most.
Make no mistake, the industry, despite its public assurances to be good-faith partners with the President and Congress, has been at work for years laying the groundwork for devious and often sinister campaigns to manipulate public opinion. ...
It funded another front group when lawyers began filing class action lawsuits on behalf of doctors and patients.
The PR firm the industry hired to create that front group, by the way, had planned and conducted a similar campaign for the tobacco industry a few years earlier.
The insurance industry hired that same PR firm again in 2007 to help blunt the impact of Michael Moore’s movie, “Sicko.” It created and staffed a front group called “Health Care America” specifically to discredit Moore and to demonize the health care systems featured in the movie. ...