I haven’t had a chance to comment on this—I just read it—but it is certainly worth reading, and comprehending in a wider, all-system sense. It reveals, in stunning detail, the pernicious way in which not just health care, but so many institutions/policies/corporations are run: profit over human rights, supported through, for example, sold out Congresspeople (so many!) via their lobbyist friends. Speaking of lobbyists and shameless PR folk, see my previous blog on Honduras.

And this leads us to a Bill Moyers interview with former CIGNA health insurance PR man Wendell Potter—a real insider. He is like a Mr. Potter from It’s A Wonderful Life, had Mr. Potter changed his position. This present-day Potter has had what is sometimes called a metanoia—a change of heart.

It’s just a shame, and shameful, what is often done relentlessly, recklessly, and without any concern for life-stealing externalities, on behalf of profit. The interview is here.

An excerpt:

I picked up the local newspaper and I saw that a health care expedition was being held a few miles up the road, in Wise, Virginia. And I was intrigued…I borrowed my dad’s car and drove up 50 miles up the road to Wise, Virginia. It was being held at a Wise County Fairground. I took my camera. I took some pictures. It was a very cloudy, misty day, it was raining that day, and I walked through the fairground gates. And I didn’t know what to expect. I just assumed that it would be, you know, like a health—booths set up and people just getting their blood pressure checked and things like that.

But what I saw were doctors who were set up to provide care in animal stalls. Or they’d erected tents, to care for people. I mean, there was no privacy. In some cases—and I’ve got some pictures of people being treated on gurneys, on rain-soaked pavement.

And I saw people lined up, standing in line or sitting in these long, long lines, waiting to get care. People drove from South Carolina and Georgia and Kentucky, Tennessee—all over the region, because they knew that this was being done. A lot of them heard about it from word of mouth.

There could have been people and probably were people that I had grown up with. They could have been people who grew up at the house down the road, in the house down the road from me. And that made it real to me.

BILL MOYERS: What did you think?

WENDELL POTTER: It was absolutely stunning. It was like being hit by lightning. It was almost—what country am I in? I just it just didn’t seem to be a possibility that I was in the United States. It was like a lightning bolt had hit me.

I hate to say it, but it sounds like a dust-bowl Woody Guthrie song, or some post-colonial disaster in the Third World. This cannot bode well for the future. Painful.

Lots of love and hopefully some fairness,




  1. Karen says:

    Mr. Potter may find his message being radicalized and himself being pilloried right next to Mr. Moore.

    For the last few years the only way we could get one of my Love’s drugs covered was for him to “fail” (yes, that’s the pathetic term they use) without it. Then it’s approved for six months at which point he has to fail again. In April he had some tests (which carry inherent risks) that should put this to rest for good, but it took almost two years of poor health to get here.

    The convoluted connections among the Pharmaceutical, Insurance, and Medical industry is disgusting. If Congress makes Big Pharma happy, the docs and insurance don’t want it, docs happy, Pharma/Insurance unhappy and on it goes. Do I smell a concerted effort to maintain the status quo and profits?

    There’s a medication, Auralgan, used for earaches to stop the pain and is frequently prescribed, along with antibiotic, by pediatricians. It’s an otic solution containing antipyrine (analgesic that reduces pain and inflammation), benzocaine (topical anesthetic), and dehydrated glycerin. The original version has been around since I was little (and Rxs were chipped into stone) and works very well. It has eased many a child through a painful ear infection. Because of the addition of two basically inactive (and dirt cheap) ingredients, the pharma co. received a new patent. Docs are so used to writing for “Auralgan” that they don’t think of requesting generic (in this case generic is just as good). Currently, if a doc writes for “Auralgan” there is no generic and the patient—or patient’s parent as the case may be—is paying between $140 and $190 out-of-pocket for it or an equally high co-pay percentage. Many parents can only afford the antibiotic. If the doc writes for “benzocaine and antipyrine” the patient gets the generic of the old version of Auralgan and pays between $10 and $20 out-of-pocket, or a co-pay of as little as $0.47 (yes, you read that right!) I read about this in a pediatrics journal and a doctor was urging other peds to write for the generic.

    Maybe we don’t need a better health care system in the United States; maybe we need to cut major corporations down to size or just deny them Auralgan when they get an ear infection.

    Love to you and those you pick up prescriptions for,

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