Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Healthcare Propaganda Wendell Potter Apologizes to Michael Moore for Sicko Lies

Tags: Healthcare Secret Propagandist Potter Against Michael Moore's too Truthful Sicko Film Big Pharma Health Insurers Behind Plot

Wendell Potter's son Alex saw the film SICKO with his father who was gathering information to try to smear the film. At that time Wendell Potter was working for CIGNA, one of the top health insurers Public Relations, or less polite chief Propagandist based in Philadelphia. Alex and his father discussed the film SICKO which Moore went out of his way to check all the facts over and over again by an interview process of doctors in many countries to see how their healthcare works and their effectiveness.

Wendell told his son he is quitting as soon as it is economically possible because he will pay a heavy price and will never be able to work in the healthcare industry again. He will also be smeared in news stories. As we have seen in the past, most people who give up corporate secrets about how they operate suffer massive economic damage. No job or income.

As you read the article you will realize how sophisticated and secret the PR firms are in shaping the minds of Americans through print and television news and advertising. The political ads all of could not help seeing for the past Mid-Term elections which Republicans blamed Obama for exactly what they did as part of the Bush administration to a largely ignorant, but easily scared public. Very effective with appropriate scary music, images, and lies to make Democrats look like the second coming of Hell.

However, in real life, nothing is that simple including who to blame for the Financial Crisis except we know that the banks had a big part.

Remember all of us were participants whether as investors who want something without working to understand what they are investing in, how your investing is impacting the lives of 90 percent of Americans including ourselves because it forces corporations to continually increase their percent profits by firing employees, sending jobs overseas, and bringing in workers legal or not to lower the cost of payrolls.

Real estate sellers who know they are selling stuff that the owners cannot hope to afford soon into the future and bankers who gained fees by granting these loans and then selling the mortgages to be combined in derivatives whose worth cannot be calculated, homeowners who used their equity in their homes as a piggy bank to keep buying more stuff which only has an ephemeral pleasure which has to be constantly refilled, and of course all those people who we call stupid but they were not. If they put nothing down and they can't pay, they can and did just walk away. Of course the sharply lowering the income of Americans except the top ten percent and especially the millionaires and billionaires in the top one percent and top 0.1 percent respectively.

I am not sure if we can ever stop these financial crisis from recurring often and ever shortening cycles if we continue to think of investing as just a tree where money grows without any effort. We investors force corporations to send jobs overseas because we insist on increasing percent profits every quarter or else we will sell their stocks as we have seen repeated many times.

Bush policies sent 50,000 blue collar jobs overseas losing millions of American jobs and gained back a million during his 8 years. We not only loses our technological advantages and engineers, but it dropped the middleclass workers into the overwhelming economic poor which encompasses about half our families with less than $50,000 per year income. It costs a family of four in Oregon that much just for necessities which excludes eating at restaurants and entertainment including cable TV. These are the basic cable families or antenna families and many seniors.

Of course the really poor eat high calories and cheap fast foods to make them fat from the high fructose corn syrup used to make bad tasting food palatable and high fat and protein content to satisfy their customers without satiating their appetite. This sugar stops us from knowing when we have eaten enough and makes us eat more than we should according to studies at Princeton which is the principle cause of obesity increasing from 8 percent to over 30 percent and with overweight Americans, over half.

In 1985, Reagan heavily subsidized corn to increase profits for the Big Five process food makers. It is so large that they can sell corn in Mexico at cost and still gain big profits. This policy was instituted by Clinton who insisted that in order to loan Mexico $5o billion dollars to rescue them, they had to wipe out their farmers in Mexico and Central America who make up most of our illegal immigrants.

Government policies matter. Yes, Democrats are far from perfect for Americans because they too are involved in taking money from corporations and the wealthy, but at least they know how to govern and are kinder than the Republicans. The Republican House and Senate are going to ruin the life of most Americans if we do not stop them. The only thing that has made seniors from being largely poor is Social Security and Medicare. By voting with the radical Republicans, they might suffer in their lifetime which will certainly be shorter because healthcare may be sabotaged or eliminated or bankrupted.

We must tax the rich at much higher levels and remove the deductions and the special tax provisions for stock and bond investors. Make everything ordinary income and add a value added tax to support our Healthcare system with corporations do what they do. Anything to increase profits, but countered by appropriate regulations or laws. They will help us eliminate unneeded tests and operations much more efficiently than politically influenced congress can dare implement. Medicare will be bankrupt in about 5-8 years so if something is not done, seniors will die before their time.

Many cannot watch Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow to learn more of the non-corporate news. I hope when Comcast, a known very conservative management, keeps their mind on profits and not eliminate them. If they do, I will drop Comcast watch them on the Internet the next day.

I doubt that we will find all the crooks. Not repeated by the media or well known by the public is that after Sept 11 Bush moved all the FBI team away from watching the White Collar Crooks such as Wall Street to fighting terrorism which was also another way for their friends to profit enormously. I guess watching Wall Street and the banks to keep them honest is Socialism. Obama and his administration of more honest workers have already done us an enormous service without publicity in many areas. They were able to get the uranium bomb unguarded in Kazakhstan out of country avoided the Muslim radicals in Chechenia from getting hold of stuff to make up to 80 bombs!

Because Americans are more religious than those in other countries, we also have the inclination to get scared easily due to how our brain works. We do not have as much prefrontal cortical control because many of our immigrants, especially the Republicans, left religious persecution because their religion was more radical than what Europeans would accept. Although most are considered economic immigrants which is occurring more in recent decades, the core of our population came long ago.

The former Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff profiting enormously by deciding to pay corporations to develop scanners for airports and getting in the actions. Giuliani also profited enormously from the attack by founding a security firm. But few know that just about every program Bush/Cheney were involved in profited their friends. Cheney profited enormously from the Wars, by removing regulations in his energy bills to allow Halliburton to introduce fracking method of natural gas retrieval which has polluted the drinking water of nearby residents and every some aquifers, the only source of water in many areas. The residents have become serious ill and natural gas came out of their kitchen faucet indicating well contamination. The corporations don't care and they buy the EPA in the various states so they don't help their residents.

Even now Bush has operatives placed in key Civil Service jobs including justice to either sabotage Obama's efforts or inform the Republicans about what the Democrats are trying to do. Yes, that is what happens in the amoral corporate economy and nation. Wall Street now makes up 63 percent up from 49% before the housing and stock market collapse which actually started in 2001 in Cleveland, but largely ignored by Greenspan with his Ayn Rand Ideology of Capitalism Uber Alles similar to Germany's Deutschland Uber Alles.

Jim Kawakami, Nov 23, 2010, http://jimboguy.blogspot.com

Wendell Potter: "My Apologies to Michael Moore and the Health Insurance Industry"

Submitted by Wendell Potter on November 22, 2010 - 11:14am. http://prwatch.org/node/9642


(L-R) Alex Potter, Michael Moore and Wendell Potter

In advance of my appearance with Michael Moore on Countdown with Keith Olbermann tonight on MSNBC (8 and 11 p.m. ET), I would like to offer an apology to both Moore and his arch enemy, the health insurance industry, which spent a lot of policyholder premiums in 2007 to attack his movie, Sicko.

I need to apologize to Moore for the role I played in the insurance industry's public relations attack campaign again him and Sicko, which was about the increasingly unfair and dysfunctional U.S. health care system. (I was head of corporate communications at one of the country's biggest insurance companies when I left my job in May 2008.) And I need to apologize to health insurers for failing to note in my new book, Deadly Spin, that the front group they used to attack Moore and Sicko -- Health Care America -- was originally a front group for drug companies. APCO Worldwide, the PR firm that operated the front group for insurers during the summer of 2007, was outraged -- outraged, I tell you -- that I wrote in the book that the raison d'ĂȘtre for Health Care America was to disseminate the insurance industry's talking points as part of a multi-pronged, fear-mongering campaign against Moore and his movie. An APCO executive told a reporter who had reviewed the book that I was guilty of one of the deceptive PR tactics I condemned: the selective disclosure of information to manipulate public opinion.

Which Industry Was Really Behind "Health Care America?"

Well, shucks. Ignorance is no defense, I know, but no one at APCO ever told me, even when I was on the insurance industry's side, that Health Care America's first benefactor was Big Pharma.

Here are the offending sentences, excerpted from the chapter entitled "The Campaign Against Sicko," in which I described a top-secret meeting of insurance company flacks -- including me -- where APCO and America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the lobbying group for insurers, laid out the industry's strategy:

(AHIP's Mike) Tuffin and (APCO's Robert) Schooling said they had already begun recruiting conservative and free-market think tanks, including the American Enterprise Institute and the Galen Institute, as third-party allies. Those allies, they said, would be working aggressively to discredit Moore and his movie. They then mentioned an ally that most of us had never heard of, Health Care America. It had been created by AHIP and APCO for the sole purpose of attacking Moore and his contention that people in countries with government-run systems spent far less and got better care than people in the United States. The sole reason Health Care America exists, they said, was to talk about the shortcomings of government-run systems.

I learned a few days ago from Jack O'Dwyer, longtime watchdog of the PR profession and publisher of O'Dwyer's PR Daily, that an APCO executive told him I had failed to disclose that APCO had originally set up Health Care America in 2006 with money primarily from big drug companies. Big Pharma was worried at the time that drug makers would be Moore's main target in the movie. Thinking ahead, they feared that being vilified in Sicko would increase the odds that lawmakers would cast them as the chief villain when the health care reform debate got underway.

O'Dwyer blogged last Tuesday that, "Just about every known evil practice that PR has ever engaged in is described in 'Deadly Spin.' " He noted that I had mentioned APCO -- the second biggest firm in the O'Dwyer ranking, with $100.3 million in fees in 2009 -- several times in the book. APCO and AHIP must be paying a media monitoring service to alert them immediately when I am mentioned in the media, as they did for Michael Moore and Sicko three years ago. Within hours, APCO Senior Vice President William Pierce sent O'Dwyer an email to challenge my credibility because of my failure to disclose Health Care America's original incarnation. He's right --partially. I should have pointed out in the book that APCO repurposed Health Care America for the insurance industry and other special interests who were concerned that Sicko might lead to reforms that would threaten their profits, too. I would have disclosed it if I had known about it. Unlike PR people who practice the dark arts of PR, I had no intention of misleading anyone.

Now, Even More Info About "Health Care America"

After hearing from O'Dwyer, I discovered even more about Health Care America than I had recalled. I came across a couple of interesting articles and a press release from 2006 that Pierce had sent to the media. (He was listed as the organization's media contact, although he was an employee of APCO during the entire brief existence of Health Care America. If you called the number on the press release, you would have reached Pierce at his APCO office.) I also found Health Care America's federal tax returns for 2006 and 2007, which were helpful in understanding just how much of a front group it really was.

In a press release dated April 6, 2006, Pierce announced that Health Care America -- which he described as a non-partisan, non-profit organization --had "opened for business as a champion for common-sense solutions to improving our health care system without furthering government control."

The Old PR Dodge and Weave

In one of the hardest-working paragraphs of spin I've come across in a long time, the release went on to quote Sarah Berk, the outfit's executive director, as saying: "We will promote access, choice, innovation, quality and competition in the U.S. health care system. And we will highlight how government-controlled systems around the world limit payment choice, stifle innovation and force thousands to wait for health care services in the U.S."

(Note to Ms. Berk: Please make plans now to join me next July at the 11th annual Remote Area Medical Free Health Care Expedition at the Wise County, Virginia Fairgrounds. If you come early enough, you can help other volunteers scrub and sanitize the animal stalls where doctors and nurses treat the thousands of patients who wait for a year to get the care they need, but cannot afford in the United States of America. Be forewarned, however. The experience might force you to consider another line of work, as it did for me when I went to
Wise County in 2007. I knew then that my days as a spinmeister for the insurance industry were numbered.)

The release did not disclose that Ms. Berk had recently left the American Hospital Association where, according to a story in Roll Call, she was director of "grassroots" advocacy and federal relations. Roll Call also reported that she earlier had "worked on health issues" for former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania).

So what were the common-sense solutions Health Care America promised to champion? Well, according to Roll Call, Ms. Berk "declined" to talk about them.

"We're not there yet," Roll Call quoted her as saying. "We're not here to get in the weeds on issues."

That was not the only declining she did that day. According to Roll Call, "Berk declined to name any specific companies or groups that were backing (Health Care America)." Oh, well.

Roll Call did disclose a tidbit that the Pierce's press release did not: "Health Care America is represented by public affairs firm APCO Worldwide and is currently leasing office space from APCO." One has to wonder how much space APCO's front group leased from APCO. Berk was identified as the only employee, although she was quoted in Roll Call as saying that she planned to hire at least one other person within three months.

Undisclosed Sources of Income, Mysterious Expenditures and "Virtual Offices"

According to the Form 990 Health Care America filed with the IRS for 2006, it took in $822,298.00 from undisclosed sources. Of that, $142,500 was paid out in compensation, presumably to Ms. Berk, and $9,000 was spent for "occupancy." Accounting and legal fees totaled nearly $47,000. By far the biggest expenditure -- $240,000 -- was for "consultant services." One has to wonder how much of that went to APCO. ... http://prwatch.org/node/9642

1 comment:

  1. Correction: In 1985, Obesity was 15 percent. No other country went up as fast. Obesity is especially rampant in the Southern rim such as very poor states such as Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia. In Birmingham, Alabama, one hospital put in wider and stronger beds, wider entrances, and a much larger staff to treat obese individuals. The film on PBS recently showed that it took three anesthesiologists and a total of eight team to deliver a baby from a very obese mother. Also some hospitals specialize in treating obese men and women by removing their Omentum gland (inner belly fat organ) to stop them from getting hungry and part of their stomach at $12,000 (no insurance can afford) a pop as out patients.
    Within a month their diabetes 2 is gone so they are off their medications. It is much cheaper to have this operation than treat diabetes and other illness developed by these patients. Even the more expensive operation is authorized by those insured. i think Medicare allows payment too. Still not know if it affects their longevity. Jim