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Wendell Potter
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Wendell Potter, a contributing writer to the Huffington Post, is also an author, public speaker and president of Wendell Potter Consulting. After a 25-year career in business, he left his job as head of communications for one of the nation's largest health insurers and became a vocal advocate for health care reform and a critic of insurance company abuses.

In widely covered testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee in June 2009, Wendell disclosed how insurance companies, as part of their efforts to boost profits, have engaged in practices that have resulted in millions of Americans being forced into the ranks of the uninsured. Wendell also described how the insurance industry has developed and implemented strategic communications plans, based on deceptive public relations and advertising and lobbying efforts, to defeat or weaken reform initiatives.

During his business career, Wendell held a variety of positions at Humana Inc. and CIGNA Corporation. When he left CIGNA in 2008 he was serving as head of corporate communications and as the company's chief corporate spokesperson.

In addition to his consulting business, he is a columnist at the Center for Public Integrity. A former reporter, he covered Congress, the White House and Supreme Court and wrote a weekly political column for Scripps-Howard newspapers.

His latest book, published in December 2013 by Bloomsbury USA, is Obamacare: What's in It for Me: What Everyone Needs to Know About the Affordable Care Act. His first book, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans, was published in November 2010 by Bloomsbury USA.

Entries by Wendell Potter

A Free-Market Solution to Alleviating America's Oral Health Crisis: Dental Therapists

(2) Comments | Posted July 18, 2014 | 3:02 PM

Author's Note: This article is part of an a series examining America's oral health care crisis. Be sure to read the previous article, "States Finally Taking Action to Improve Access to Critical Dental Care."

I hope...

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Those Obamacare Attack Ads Backfired, Actually Helped Boost Enrollment

(2) Comments | Posted July 14, 2014 | 11:45 AM

Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010, its opponents have spent an estimated $450 million on political ads attacking the law, according to Kantar Media's CMAG, which analyzes spending on advertising. Supporters have spent a tiny fraction of that amount. Kantar says opponents have outspent those who...

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Insurers Are Fleecing Us Out of Billions While Congress Looks the Other Way

(29) Comments | Posted June 16, 2014 | 10:01 AM

A year-long investigation by the Center for Public Integrity has revealed that health insurers may have fleeced taxpayers out of $70 billion in just five years.

You would think members of Congress in both parties would be so outraged they'd be launching their own investigation and railing against...

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Skyrocketing Health Insurer CEOs' Paychecks Are "Crazy," Says Executive Comp Expert

(4) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 12:09 PM

If health insurance companies announce big premium increases on policies for 2015, I hope regulators, lawmakers and the media will look closely at whether they are justified, especially in light of recent disclosures of better-than-expected profits in 2013, rosy outlooks for the rest of this year and soaring CEO compensation.

...
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This Is What Passes for Journalism in Washington These Days

(2) Comments | Posted June 3, 2014 | 11:44 AM

If you read my column last week about a Senate hearing that showed how Obamacare has affected Americans, you might have wondered if I was in the same room with reporters who presumably covered the event.

The disparity goes a long way toward explaining why so many of...

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Making Insurers Do the Right Thing Saves Us Billions

(30) Comments | Posted May 27, 2014 | 11:12 AM

The first time I blew the whistle on health insurance companies was during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in June 2009. Last Wednesday, almost five years later, I appeared before that committee again to give a progress report on how Americans have been benefiting since Congress enacted reforms in 2010...

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A Different Way of Thinking About Health Care

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2014 | 2:05 PM

A Charleston, South Carolina man who thought he had pretty good health insurance may miss work today, as he has several times already this year, because of a hernia. He's in constant pain and needs surgery, but he has been postponing it. It's not because he's afraid of hospitals or...

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Health Insurers Using Playbook Again to Protect Profits at Expense of Consumers

(2) Comments | Posted May 12, 2014 | 12:45 PM

As I wrote in my book, Deadly Spin, the health insurance industry and other special interest groups use a tried-and-true set of tactics to push back against threats to their profitability. I referred to those tactics collectively as "The Playbook on How to Influence Lawmakers and Regulators Through the Manipulation...

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States Finally Taking Action to Improve Access to Critical Dental Care

(1) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 11:42 AM

Author's Note: This post is part of a series examining America's oral health care crisis. Be sure to read the previous article, "Why a Trip to the Dentist Costs So Much Now -- And What We Can Do About It."

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Why It's More Important Than Ever to Keep an Eye on Health Insurers

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 10:02 AM

After writing a couple weeks back that we need to keep an eye on profit-hungry health insurers to make sure they are not refusing to pay for medically necessary care, I got a flood of emails and tweets from people with stories to share.

That column was published just as...

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The Truth About the Canadian Health Care System I Spent Years Disparaging

(45) Comments | Posted April 30, 2014 | 1:55 PM

When I returned home after a two-week speaking tour of Canada and began catching up on news about Obamacare, I was angry and upset, and not just at politicians and special interests that benefit from deception-based PR tactics. I was -- and still am -- mostly angry and upset with...

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As Medical Claim Denials Increase, Be Prepared to Be a Squeaky Wheel

(6) Comments | Posted April 21, 2014 | 11:33 AM

The good news from last week was that 8 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the Obamacare-created exchanges. The not so good news is that because most of us have to buy coverage from a private insurer, we will always have to be vigilant to make sure...

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Why Canada May Be Heading Down the "Slippery Slope" Toward American-Style Health Care

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 12:43 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- During the year leading up to the 2008 presidential primaries, my insurance industry colleagues and I were working hard to influence the debate on health care reform.

Our number one objective: make Americans so afraid of "heading down the slippery slope toward socialism" that no candidate...

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What's the Point, WellPoint? Could It Be to Satisfy Wall Street?

(7) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 10:22 AM

Executives at health insurance giant WellPoint are predicting they will have to implement "double-digit plus" rate increases next year, demonstrating once again just how politically tone deaf and profit-obsessed they apparently are.

When I read WellPoint CEO Joe Swedish comments in Modern Healthcare that, there will "undoubtedly be remarkable price...

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Bush Health Secretary Louis Sullivan Is One Republican Who Supports Obamacare

(3) Comments | Posted March 31, 2014 | 11:57 AM

The Republican leadership's intense opposition to the Affordable Care Act clearly baffles -- and disappoints -- one of the party's most admired figures, former Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Louis W. Sullivan.

Speaking at the opening session of the Association of Health Care Journalists 2014 conference in Denver last...

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Health Insurers' New Campaign to Create Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

(11) Comments | Posted March 24, 2014 | 10:42 AM

Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of Obamacare, but it marked the seventh anniversary of opposition to the concept underlying health care reform.

At least two years before the first words of legislation were written, and three years before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the entrenched health care...

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Why a Trip to the Dentist Costs So Much Now -- And What We Can Do About It

(51) Comments | Posted March 20, 2014 | 10:23 AM

Author's Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles examining America's oral health care crisis. Be sure to read part three, "Resolving to Take Better Care of Our Teeth Could Save Our Lives -- And Billions of Dollars."

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Channeling Marie Antoinette to Describe U.S. Health Care

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 10:26 AM

If you want to see a media pundit rendered utterly speechless, reduced to babbling as he tries to justify his claim that Obamacare is leading the United States to third world status, you must watch Daily Show "correspondent" Aasif Mandvi's Thursday night takedown of New York Stock Exchange...

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Does Obamacare Offer Too Many Choices?

(3) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 10:07 AM

With fewer than 30 shopping days left before Obamacare open enrollment ends on March 31, if you want to get coverage through the health insurance marketplace and avoid having to pay a penalty, you should log on sooner rather than later.

Although most of the problems with HealthCare.gov have been...

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New Fed Study Says Health Reform Can Reduce Financial Stress, Bankruptcies

(6) Comments | Posted February 24, 2014 | 9:49 AM

One of the great hopes of health care reform is that it will reduce the number of Americans who file for bankruptcy because of medical debt. A new study in Massachusetts is providing evidence that the reform law passed in that state in 2006, and which served as...

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