American Morning

Tune in at 6am Eastern for all the news you need to start your day.
October 13th, 2009
10:00 AM ET

Ex-insider: Insurance industry report is bogus

The Senate Finance Committee's health care reform bill got high marks from the Congressional Budget Office for keeping the deficit down, but now insurance companies say it will actually cost you and your family thousands of dollars more than you’re paying now.

Wendell Potter says the insurance industry has been disingenuous from the beginning of the health care reform debate.

Wendell Potter says the insurance industry has been disingenuous from the beginning of the health care reform debate.

Wendell Potter worked for two different insurance companies in the past, and now he's working against them to help get reform passed. He says the claims from this new report from an insurance industry trade group are just not true.

Potter spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday. Below is an edited transcript of that interview.

John Roberts: On March 5th, at a White house conference on health care reform, Karen Ignani, who is the president and CEO of AHIP – American's Health Insurance Plans – stands up and addresses the president. She says, “We want to work with you. We want to work with the members of Congress on a bipartisan basis here. You have our commitment.”

So just six months ago, Wendell, there was American's Health Insurance Plans standing up, saying we want to work with you on health care reform. Just yesterday they came out with this study, this PricewaterhouseCoopers report, which is a scathing criticism of the so-called Baucus Bill in the Senate Finance Committee. What changed between then and now?

Wendell Potter: You know, what happened on that March day – that summit at the White House – was what made me decide to become a critic of the industry, because that was the beginning of their charm offensive, the part of the PR campaign that they want us to see, they want us to hear. And what we saw – what we're seeing now is the other side of that; their efforts behind the scenes and now more publicly to defeat reform. And it's all an effort to try to shape reform, if they can, or kill it if they can, but shape it for their benefit and at the benefit of Wall Street shareholders, more than Americans.

Roberts: Are you suggesting that Karen Ignagni was being disingenuous during that meeting?

Potter: I think the industry has been disingenuous from the beginning of this debate. They have never had any intention of being good faith partners with the president and Congress. And I know this from having been a part of many, many efforts over the past 20 years, almost, to defeat reform, or to help shape reform to the industry's benefit. And I was a part of some of the efforts to plan this very campaign.

Roberts: AHIP’s initial problem was with the public option, which is not in the Senate bill, but now they're saying, wait a minute, there aren't stiff enough penalties for people who don't buy health insurance. That's the new beef. What's that all about?

Potter: You know, it's an argument – it's probably the best case that I've heard from anybody why we need a public health insurance option. What they're saying is, in fact, they bought and paid for this report from an outfit, you know, that's worked for them and done many reports like this over many years. They've taken selective parts of the bill – not even bothering to read the full bill or take some other elements into consideration – and are claiming that the bill, if enacted, would raise premiums. It's nonsense. It would not work the way that they're saying. In fact, one of the authors admitted, apparently late yesterday, that they did not take into consideration other important elements of the bill.

Roberts: So let me stop you there and just drill down on this claim that they're making, that the health care bill that's now in the Senate Finance Committee would add hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to the cost of a health insurance package for most people and families. You're saying that that's just not true?

Potter: It's just not true, because they're taking the parts of the bill that the industry now does not like. What the Finance Committee did, fortunately, toward the end of last week was reduce some of the very, very severe penalties that the insurance industry wanted to have in the bill that would be assessed against us if we decide we don't want to buy their overpriced and inadequate products that are often nothing more than fake insurance.

Roberts: So how do they go forward and make such a claim if it's just patently not true?

Potter: Because they can. Because they know they can often get away with it and they know that they've got a lot of shills on Capitol Hill. One thing we'll be able to see over the next, you know, today and the coming days, is whether or not people will be revealing themselves as the industry shills by quoting from this bogus report.

Roberts: All right. So if it comes down to a fight between America's Health Insurance Plans and the White House, who do you think is going to win?

Potter: My money's on the White House on this one, because I think that the people are behind the White House and the Congress and I think the industry knows that. This is a desperation move on the part of the insurance industry, because analysts are now somewhat concerned – Wall Street analysts – that the bill may not be absolutely, everything that the industry wants, and that's what's driving this – Wall Street's expectations that this bill may not be everything they'd hoped and prayed for.

Roberts: And you said this is the greatest argument for a public option that you have heard to date, but do you think this could breathe new life into the idea of a public option?

Potter: I think it already is. From what I'm hearing, people who have been trying and working really in good faith to get legislation passed are now knowing that a public option is one of the most important ways to try to keep this industry honest. Without the public option, you know, these companies will continue to have the free reign they've had over the last several years, and they will, indeed, raise our prices, our premiums to the point that we can't afford them and more and more people will be in the ranks of the underinsured.


Filed under: Politics
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. mjg

    All types of insurance is gambling that worst will happen! If we would just be financially responsible for our own actions we would not be in this situation! It is unfornate that we are forced to have many other types of insurance let alone the overwhelming cost of health insurance premiums either privately or through increase in federal tax. This is just another way to continue to strip our LIBERTIES!

    November 1, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  2. Pel

    This ex insurance insider has opened the door to the ill ways of the health insurance industry. A policy holder is a commodity to them. The only thing the industry seek is greed which leads to greedy profits.

    October 26, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  3. Donna

    seems to me to call people 'morons' and worse is not necessary. I remember the days when employers cared enough about their employees (who stayed for years with the comanies) proivded oustanding health and life insurance and major medical insurances and pharmaceutical coverages all at the same time and same company. That is no longer because remember when.... GWB decided to allow others to sell their plans... and make those small businesses richer that all changed.

    Many of you need to realize that your premiums and the insurance companeis and pharmaceutical companies donate to political funds and have lobbyists as well. Something Pres Obama is trying to change.

    Seems to me that no one is going to force anyone to change insurance plans. Perhaps our premiums WILL decrease... I pay $300 and more per month and can't afford it but need the coverage.

    Do the research folks........ don't call everyone names because your needs may be different from theirs

    October 14, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  4. ian

    This will result in the typical conservative end play:

    1) Find legislation you don't like.

    2) Add so many nonsense rules and exceptions that the legislation is a total fail.

    3) At campaign time, point out legislation you sabotaged and claim "government can't do anything right."

    4) Advocate "smaller government" (i.e. remove regulations from wealthy corporations and individuals).

    5) Exit congress. Get your payoff from your handlers in the form of a cushy job and/or overseas money in a hidden bank account.

    6) Rinse, lather and repeat!

    October 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  5. shepwvu

    I'm sick of hearing from Canadians about their universal coverage. Your country's population is 1/10th of the US! And people do get PRIORITIZED in Canada. That's enough right there for me to say NO WAY to a "public option". You morons think you'll get everything for free. Dream on. Start thinking for yourselves instead of propaganda from the WH & liberal whackos!

    October 14, 2009 at 10:17 am |
  6. GERRY

    and me personally i really hope all of you get your public option that you so crave... because for blindly following the government you really do deserve it...

    because if you dems actually think the president is going to keep that cadillac tax in the bill which will hurt the unions then you all need a labotomy. and then who is going to pick up that extra 400 billion.. oh yeah the middle class.. enjoy

    October 14, 2009 at 6:53 am |
  7. GERRY

    the public option will wnd up being the worst thing for this country..... and for all of you that are for it if the public option happens then the government will set a certain level of healthcare that everyone should have and if you do not have that level you will have to buy more coverage in order to get it... so again obama lied... if you are happy with your healthcare then you can not keep it.. and the doctors do not have to acceot the new insurance..

    October 14, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  8. SB

    How anyone can so vehemently argue against reform is puzzling. Is the situation broken? Yes. Is UHC's CEO making $50,000 per hour while denying claims for bogus reasons? Someone above argued that the industry will go broke is there isn't money 'coming in' to pay for 'pencils' an other staples. Seriously? Insurance companies make money from premiums, which they rake in month after month, AND from NOT PAYING claims – this is their ultimate goal. To not pay claims. Deny claims. Whatever. Costs may rise, argue the – again, arguing FOR these crooks – folks so paranoid about "big government". Excuse me, what is Medicare? I'll tell you what, you give up your medicare and social security and we'll give up the public option. Your money goes into a pot to pay for all of those uninsured emergency room visits, etc. Oh wait, there arent' enough of you to cover that because the majority of American's want reform. Stop the profits over healthcare. Health decisions should be made based on the bottom line. Or on the lack of a savings account...

    October 13, 2009 at 5:34 pm |
  9. Lynx Owen

    The issue is Morality!

    It seems pretty simple to me. Every citizen should be provided with police,fire, and health protection. It should be the responsibility of the government to provide it.
    The larger percentage of home foreclosures are caused by inability to pay medical bills.
    Here in Phoenix, a glaring example of private enterprise controlling our lives was just days ago when a Phoenix man got cancer, couldn't pay his medical bills therefore lost his home and so orchestrated a situation where the police had to shoot and kill him. His only way out was to die.
    Private enterprise should not be in control of the essentials of life because they are about profit not about saving life or preventing illness.
    It is immoral to have companies paying executives 100s of millions in bonuses in an industry that profits by not providing essential protection for everyone.
    As a sidebar to the health debate: My wife has Group Health at her employer – a hospital. Because of her symptons her doctor ordered a CT scan. First the order for the scan had to be approved by the insurance company. So who is in control of our health? Answ: profit motive driven insurance companies. An insurance company clerk makes the decision.
    It is clear and obvious that people are suffering and dying for lack of or inadequate health care insurance protection.
    We give billions to other countries like Israel and Egypt. We spend Billions weekly for wars to protect others from themselves but we won't protect all of our citizens from those who profit from the natural perils of life. The question is a moral one.

    October 13, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  10. shepwvu

    OK, Marva in favor of the public option & all you other whackos so inclined: Who pays for it? Why would an employer continue employer-based insurance when there's a "public option" available? Marva, your son paying $5000 while he was laid off to keep his family covered while his company paid his but not their portion? B*llS**t!!! My fully paid, complete family coverage with dental/vision & no deductibles & very low copays only comes to approx. $1500/month paid by my employer. You said no typo, therefore YOU LIE! Stop screwing with those 85% plus with coverage to cover the few misfortunate, or less educated, or illegal immigrants or those choosing to forgo coverage! Most of you in favor of the public option are just too s**p*d to think things through.

    October 13, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  11. jay m

    The Insurance Industry was formed to provide affordable Healthcare, now they are cashin in on not providing decent Healthcare. Can you say paying ten thousand in deductibles is decent.

    October 13, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  12. PT Byrd

    Everybody with ANY sense at all should repeat this mantra today and every day:

    PUBLIC OPTION!!! PUBLIC OPTION!!! PUBLIC OPTION!!!

    Unless, of course, you'd rather further enrich the vultures in the insurance industry. The vultures with the multi-million dollar homes and extravagant lifestyles. C'mon . . . who needs gold plated faucets anyway. That's just absolutely sickening.

    October 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  13. john

    "...statement that if you get sick, hope you die quickly, cause if you don’t it will ruin you."

    As opposed to getting sick and dying a long, slow death? I'd prefer my terminal sickness will occur rather close to the end of my life (obviously with the preference that my death date controls my sick date as opposed to the other way around).

    "If you don't it will ruin you." – If you do you'll be dead. Pretty sure that means you're ruined.

    October 13, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  14. Lyn

    What a bunch of disingenuous selfish hypocrits! Why shouldn't there be a public option? Maybe then some poor working stiff who has paid insurance premiums all his life would have coverage when he needs it. For the insurance companies, it's the same things it's always been – greed.

    October 13, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  15. Jeff SC

    To everyone that is saying that insurance premiums are going to skyrocket – mine have already done so at the tune of over 400% in the last 5 years. I also pay over 100% more on my prescriptions than from the previous year.

    What would keep the insurance companies from charging my employer even more? I wish people from both sides would wake up and see what is happening outside of their own situation. I'm not sure who to trust here – a government that always has issues managing these kind of programs, or an insurance industry that is geared toward profit over the general public health.

    For those that have good insurance and don't have to pay high premiums – that's awesome and I'm glad you are in that situation, but bear in mind that there are others that aren't. I'm not jobless and I pay my bills and feel like I deserve good, affordable health care. I would hope that you would think the same for me.

    For the others that advocate a public option, I understand why you would want this as well. But if I have to make up the difference between the savings of lower insurance premiums by paying higher taxes, then this needs to be thought through again and/or an alternative bought in for discussion. At that point it's just moving numbers around and doesn't do anyone any good.

    For those of you who don't think poor or unemployed people shouldn't have health care, I hope you never get stuck in that situation. As an American, I do believe in helping others in the hope that if ever I run into bad times, there will be help for me. Maybe there should be an opt-out option for those of you who don't which to pay with the understanding that there will not be any financial assistance available to you.

    Please remember that this is about doing what it takes to keep ALL Americans healthy. Some of us are in better situations than others, and most of us are stuck in the middle.

    There are a lot of people against having the government run an alternative option and very much against having to fund it. As a young adult, I'm practically giving away my money to social security since the general consensus is that it's not going to be around by the time I retire. Lucky us. I wonder what would happen if all of us young adults decided to rally to have this law changed so we didn't have this taken out of our paychecks and instead deposited into our own 401s, retirement accounts, or just left on our paychecks? All of you that argue against the government holding the insurance companies responsible that are possibly retiring in the next 10-15 years might want to rethink this and/or start saving now.

    The government is designed to work for us, the people. We pay taxes and vote to make sure that are families are happy, healthy, and taken care of and have the opportunity to work and hopefully earn a good living. We also expect the government to be there for us if we need help. And you receive this help every single day. The government, whether local or national is all connected.

    If we don't want government in our lives, then we need to privatize our police force, fire dept., military, judicial system, etc. I couldn't even begin to comprehend the chaos that would ensue from all of these newly created companies trying to compete with each other for a profit. But hey, if it works for health care...

    October 13, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  16. Rich

    It's certainly not hard to pick out the comments of the health insurance industry shills posting here and elsewhere. They present no facts against which to weigh the Potter interview, and neither any recognition of the failure of the present system (for the people vis the big insurers) nor a real alternative for reform. Instead, they fabricate ad hominem attacks on Potter as having been on the verge of being fired, of being somehow disgraced and as having some axe to grind.

    Then they conclude with the usual - you can NEVER trust a government program - FEAR all reform! As if what we have now is viable, sustainable or good for the citizens of this country.

    Follow the big money and the real story will be told.

    October 13, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  17. Rich

    It's certainly not hard to pick out the comments of the health insurance industry shills posting here and elsewhere. They present no facts against to weigh the Potter interview, and neither recognition of the failure of the present system (for the people vis the big insurers) nor a real alternative for reform. Instead, they get fabricate ad hominem attacks on Potter as having been on the verge of being fired, of being somehow disgraced and as having some axe to grind.

    And then they conclude with the usual - you can NEVER trust a government program - FEAR all reform! As if what we have now is viable, sustainable or good for the citizens of this country.

    Follow the big money and the real story will be told.

    October 13, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  18. john

    By requiring that insurance companies take on additional high risk policies (whose premiums probably won't exceed their benefits), and by requiring expanded coverage, premiums are expected to go down? Why? The estimate can probably produce some sort of backup to justify their claim, although the backup will be subject to their alleged bias as well. If they are wrong, somebody please prove it, with numbers and logic (something that seems to be missing from many arguments on the debate since the beginning).

    The insurance companies are simply the middle-man of the healthcare transaction. Let's treat them as such. Premiums rise becuase the cost and quantity of service rise. Administrative costs are also a factor. Why not go around them for the expected services? Save us and them the hassle of administering a claim. We're paying for the 'service plan' part of the package through premiums, so why not skip paying the premium and pay for the service directly. It would probably make the services' costs go down as well just because they have to expend less effort as well. I favor a model for health insurance similar to auto or home insurance – it will actually work to minimize costs.

    October 13, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  19. Daniel

    Think back, remember when the government regulated much of Americas industries from aerospace to textiles? Remember the times when the typical American family could afford health care, to buy a home, a car and live the American dream. If you're old enough you'll no doubt remember the good times. However, times have changed.

    The Robber Baron mentality of big business is back. Actually it never left but was held in check by government regulation. With a designed push from big business and their government shills lawmakers back pedaled on oversight and regulation.

    Some in this country, mostly industry run Republicans, thought it would be a good idea to deregulate so they could enhance industries' bottom line. Remember trickle down economics? They pushed to get government out of their business. Now the results of that interference are plain for all to see.

    Government regulations and industry oversights are akin to a dam holding back treacherous waters. Deregulation is like terrorist fanatics working to undermine the dams' structural integrity. Well, the dam has finally burst allowing a disastrous flood of biblical proportions.

    The Robber Barons have taken a bigger cut of the pie. The smaller the middle class pieces of pie the bigger their own pieces. Do you really think the obscene growth of CEO's salary's and the middle class flat line salaries since the eighties are accidental? The two figures are inversely proportionate.

    The "PricewaterhouseCoopers report", an insurance industry hire, is an attempt to frighten the American people with bogus information. It's like Sarah Palins' cries of "Death Panels", which has proven to be false. It was simply a tactic, a scare tactic to influence people to their cause.

    Daniel

    October 13, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  20. Linda M.

    Why does everyone here think the insurance companies are for profit? The BCBS plan in Tennessee is a "not for profit" –whatever that means!

    October 13, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  21. John M

    Linda asks how the insurers make more money by paying out more in claims. It works like this: In a market with inadequate competition, premiums are based on cost plus a percent profit. When costs go up, premiums go up and profits go up proportionately. For example: $10 million in claims (plus other costs) leads to $11 million in premiums collected - if profit is set at 10%. Thus, profit is $1 million. If claims go up to $20 million, premiums go up to $22 million. Profit is still 10% but is now $2 million. Long-term there is no incentive to rein in costs through preventive care. On the other hand, short-term (while premiums are at a set price) they can make a quick buck by denying claims or care. So they have incentive to deny care but no long-term incentive to reduce healthcare costs through preventive care.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  22. John M

    A prior poster said "I don’t want the same people that run the Post Office and the IRS running my health plan." But what Obama offers is CHOICE. You can use FedEx (private insurance) of you can use the Post Office (the public plan). Both have their place and both can exist side-by-side. Neither will put the other out of business. Sometimes the Postal Service is a better choice – particularly if you have limited funds – and sometimes FedEx is a better choice. But we need the choice.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  23. Rick

    Since Dems and Repubs like to point at the subject of this debate as a party v. party issue, I like to sit in the middle and take an Independent, non-sheeple perspective on the whole thing.

    This should not be about who you voted for, what your team is, your position on politics, or your opposition to your neighbor's position on politics. This is about helping to provide healthcare to "Americans who NEED it" in an affordable manner.

    I mean, seriously... The Dems are so quick to get on the cross and cry martyr, and the idiotic Repubs like Rush Douchebaugh are to busy arguing over who gets to drive the first nail. It's like watching a stalemate of stupidity while the people who really need the help are getting nothing.

    Considering the mess of the current system, free healthcare for everyone is a very naive idea and paints a pleasant tapestry of fiction, however, there is no reason why cheap and fair consumer costs couldn't be enforced. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about capitalism, making profits, blah, blah, blah. I'm just not somebody who would gamble another human being's life to get that profit.

    ...and for the record, I am an employed professional and enjoy the luxury of a very nice insurance package that keeps my entire family covered. My problem is that I do not feel that it should be a luxury in the first place.

    Rick
    Atlanta, Ga

    October 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  24. Workersusa

    Reform needed? Yes

    Insurance industry stinks? Yes

    Federal government program as a solution? Hell No

    The reform plan is not comprehensive enough because all these egoistic/corrupt/greedy government officials and egoistic/corrupt/greedy lobbyists have not spent more time defining all the causes, disclosing them to the public, and then prioritize what ought to be left alone and what ought to be corrected.

    Many of the fixes will cut into the whole chain of benefactors' pocket books. Other fixes will into other industries' bottom line some. Still other fixes will be systemic and cultural.

    For one, more open and fair competition is needed for the insurance companies. There are too many special loop holes, territorial nuances, and restrictions on competition. This is where the problem has been rooted because it is not true capitalism.

    Two, we need far more doctors and we need to look at systemic adjustments that will help us address this need without compromising quality. Why do our schools require doctors to spend 4 years to get a bachelor degree first. That's at least 2-3 years of wasted time and resources for societal and personal concerns. We don't need to change the high standard to get accepted, but by trimming out the wasted time and course work, we can produce more doctors. We need to be able to churn our bright high school grads with aspiration and aptitude to be in medicine into primary care doctors in 5 years and specialists in 7-9 years. Right now, the process is 8-9 years and 9-12 years, respectively.

    Reduce government or tax based programs since they have been poorly managed, lead and enforced which end up creating magnets for corruption and costing society and its law-abiding citizens more, and more and more.

    The SUGAR CONTENT in food and drink products that Americans consume is a crime! American illnesses are rooted in what Americans swallow. There is no freaking reason the sugar content should be as high as it is. It ain't cigarrettes folks. It's sugar that make most Americans sick with all kinds of illnesses and place a heavy toll on the healthcare system. Want to argue? Answer this question first: Which country is most diabetic?

    Again, the point here is there are more to solving the healthcare burden than what the politicians, DummycRATS and Repubictoilets, want to steer you and me. The problem well and thoroughly defined is the problem well and thoroughly half-solved. Make these bastards focus on laying out the problem definition nakedly and truthfully first. Until then, the plans are not worth the ink and paper they're printed on.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  25. William

    This whole interview is contrived propaganda to support Pelosi and her ilk. Sorry Potter was going to be axed, he is a bitter old man who wants to see America suffer. That is exactly what will happen if this disaster bill is passed.
    All those in favor of a public option should step back a moment and relook at things. The Gov’t has run the post Office , Medicare / Medicaid,Social Security , Freddie and Fannie and the list grows into bankruptcy..does anyone really think our Gov’t is competent enough to run a program as important as health Care- ABSOLUTELY NOT.
    Obama, should stick to what he does best appear daily on TV and talk about nothing.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  26. Paul

    It's important to note that reports that come from big accounting firms such as this one, always begin with a list of "assumptions" upon which the rest of the report is based. It this were a 100-meter dash, the list of assumptions could move one racer closer to the finish line, while moving others father from it. In other words, assumptions can act to bias the report from the start. Since this report was bought and paid for by the insurance industry, it would be wise to assume, until proof shows otherwise, that the assumptions were set up to drive a foregone conclusion. Had another group with different motives paid for this report, the accounting firm possibly could have used an entirely different set of assumptions, and come to an entirely different conclusion.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  27. Elscotto

    I wish some of the screaming lunatics that show up at "town hall meetings" would listen to this guy but they'll never hear it.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  28. Robert

    As a Canadian I have watched with interest the Health Care debate in your country. I have seen many lies told about the excellent Single Payer Canadian Health Care and I wonder who it is that is paying for those lies. Could it possibly be the same people who paid for that bogus report? Surely not!

    We don't have the best Health Care system in the world; but the vast majority of Canadians would select it over what is available in the USA. Everyone is covered and no one need worry about losing coverage or pre-existing condition.

    Wake up America and give yourselves a health care system to equal that available in just about every other country in the world. Don't let special interests blind you.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  29. Anon

    All you have to do is read the posts here, these people who are attacking Potter are astro-turfers (people working for the ins industry paid to make these comments). This is how low these companies will go, I saw at least a dozen comments that were basically the same with very similar "names" attached to them. Now if you want to know who is corrupt on capitol hill, just see who agrees with this bogus report the industry PAID pwc for.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  30. Tom Z

    Why can't we have a vote/registration?

    All those who want a public option can vote for it. Their taxes will go up to pay for it, but if they lose insurance, they will still be covered by public option. Note that it's an option. They can still stay with their current insurance if they wish.

    All those who are against it will be exempt from these taxes, but if they ever lose their insurance for whatever reason, they will be at the mercy of these benevolent insurance companies. I'm sure the insurance companies will be very understanding and take pity. They're upstanding people.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  31. John

    Government should NOT be running health-care. Insurance premiums have been going up because there isn't any inter-state competition. Why? Because of government policy! Need more reasons why government should not run health-care?! The Real-estate market collaped. Why? Because government forced the banks, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac to make loans to subprime borrowers. Now we are all paying for it! The Post office is in the red. Why? Because government has been raiding it as a cash cow for years, siphoning off funds it needed to update itself! Now it cannot and will continue to incur larger expenses. Lastly, if public health-care is enacted, doctors will leave the business. They will not accept lower pay with higher demand and increasing liability insurance payments because Tort reform is not in the bill. The result is simple supply and demand – higher cost. Our economy is reeling because of government interference in the real-estate market, we've got the biggest debt in history and unemployment is still rising and you want government to take on public health-care!

    P.S. This guy is a disgruntled employee with an ax to grind. I would not take his word on this for anything. Shame on CNN for giving him an audience.

    P.P.S. Wall Street and the Insurance industry do bare some of the burden of blame for this mess too! They need to step up and provide some constructive alternatives before it's too late.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  32. Amanda

    Amazing. The government is no longer of the people, for the people, by the people. Unless you consider a corporation or industry a person and I think the Supreme Court just said that they were.

    I'm only 33 and I am scared of what else they can steal from me before I die. I already know that I won't be receiving Social Security no matter how much I pay in.

    I know better than to invest in Wall Street, take a chance that when I go and retire that 30-40% of my savings were gone and the only people who got any help were the million/billionaires who didn't need the help to begin with.

    They say the recession is over, yet no jobs have been created.

    They want to force me to carry health insurance, but don't want to provide a public option. Guess I'll be looking to many nights in jail, because I will NEVER buy health insurance at the premiums they want to charge and I will NEVER pay the fines they want me to pay.

    I'll gladly spend my life in jail, getting 3 hots and a cot and all the health care I want.

    I have nothing else to give. I don't take vacations. I don't eat out, heck most days I eat one meal. I barely have enough to pay utilities and help my family members who were laid off 2 years ago when the recession (depression) really started. I don't carry credit cards, so that's not it. I splurge on a paperback in the cheap section of Wal-Mart just to have a book.

    They are killing us and we all just let it happen. As long as we have our cable and McD's, life couldn't be to bad right? BS!!!!!

    At this point, I can no longer say, Proud to be American.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  33. fstieg

    here's the pwc report

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/PWC%20Report%20on%20Costs%20-%20Final.pdf

    and here's the punch line: Page 17, single and family increases, self insured.

    For an alleged nine and a half percent increase in premiums, I will gladly put the hurt on the health insurance companies.

    The Constitution does not guarantee profit or corporate survival.

    And ,no ,the Constitution does not guarantee health care. Its understood to be a given, from the Declaration of Independence, something about "LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."

    As I read the report it became apparent the larger the group, and the lower the administrative cost (insurance versus self insured), the less the financial cost to the individual.

    What could be a bigger group than all of us in a self insured enterprise? Sound like single payer to me.

    But I don't understand how the health insurance could put out a report recommending its own demise. This must be irony.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  34. tom & chris

    this is why we need a public option. i wish it could put the ins. co's out of business. imagine calling the police or fire dept and having to pay to get them to come to your house. that's what the ins co's are doing to us people. just when we need our health ins the most they say, pre-existing condition or refuse to pay. shame on them. please bury them

    October 13, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  35. J. M. Pelland

    I think we need to think about reform in more than just health care. Capitalism is an amazing system that works well in many regards, but the technology age has given rise to hyper-profits and hyper-efficiencies that drive a giant wedge between the working poor and the filthy rich. There's a serious social divide in this country and the gap only grows bigger as our corporations grow. I'm not an advocate for socialism by any means. If you want a big TV, go out and buy one. You'll pay what the manufacturer charges with no questions asked. But when it comes to something like health care and health insurance, I can't find an argument that says it's morally or ethically right to continue using those fields as profit driven businesses. Obama's goal has been, and will always be, to provide an option that acts as a competitor in the American health insurance economy. Having a public option at an affordable rate will force health insurance companies to lower their costs for the sake of keeping subscribers. In the process, the big wigs in the upper echelons will have to learn to live with a 15% profit margin instead of their typical 25%.

    I'm for the public option. When I pay $6,000 a year for a health insurance plan (my employer pays the other $6,000), and only use an average of $700 worth of health care claims, it's hard for me to find any reason not to switch to a public option. And that's the very thing Obama hopes will force the companies to lower their costs.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  36. Adam

    Never before have so many people been the mouthpiece for an industry that will alienate them as soon as opportunity reveals itself. I can understand the intentions of the members of AHIP: profit, job security and bonuses. I can understand the intentions of the "upper class" – lower taxes. However, the intentions of the lower and middle class are impossible for me to understand. Is it because they like to see less benefits for more cost? Is it because they are scared a government bureaucrat will tell them they can't go to the doctor their HMO already approved as "in network"? Is it because when they get paid they like to see 30% of their net income going to health insurance instead of in a 401(k)? Is it because they like being tied to a single job for their whole careers for fear they can't leave or they lose their "insurance"? Is it because they know that under a government run health care system they have to be put on a waiting list for a transplant and under a private system they can get a transplant the same day they were diagnosed as needing one? Are they scared that we will become socialists?
    The only thing that I learned from this whole thing is $750+million in insurance premiums have been spent in 2009 to fight health care reform through lobbying, bogus studies and commercials which claim to be brought by citizen groups – money which could have been used on the people who were dropped for pre-existing conditions or had issues which were only treatable by unapprovable "experimental" medicine. It has yielded the insurance industry at least one important weapon for their warchest – hundreds of thousands of scared and underinformed people fighting for the industry which scared them and hides the truth from their eyes.
    I definitely favor a single pay system; however, if that isn't an option, the insurance companies need to be put in check and a public option is the only way to do it.
    By the way, why are all these Fox "news" fans reading and commenting articles on CNN.com? Is it because they, themselves, got tired of the 24 hour a day republican commercial they call Fox News?

    October 13, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  37. Reagan

    Despite what conservatives think, government is not an evil machine. I trust them with my healthcare more than corporations b/c corporations exists with their HR departments, marketing departments, ad campaigns for one reason and one reason only–profits. Not your health but profit. Greed does not lead to sound health policies.

    And if you think the government cannot do anything right–enjoy your safe tap water. Enjoy driving safely on the road w/o your car catching on fire b/c safety regulations and inspections run by the government are effective. Enjoy the safe flights regulated and inspected by government. The roads? Government. The food you buy? Government. If you really want to see what happens when government is run poorly, drink Mexican water.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  38. ELLEN IN OHIO

    If ONLY the American people were given the same health care that the Senate and Congress were given... and THEY DON"T PAY A DIME FOR IT.... that would be a real wake up call to ALL AMERICANS! Having worked for American Family Insurance in Medical Claim Processing... we are taught to look for and to check for any and ALL reasons to deny or delay payment of a claim. Health Insurance Companies of America have gone unchecked for way too long. It is about time someone did something!

    October 13, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  39. Tom Z

    I think that the insurance companies are right. My insurance company would never put their profits ahead of my well being. Their ads on TV show them helping us in hard times, and I believe it. Though my rates have more than doubled in the last 2 years, I'm sure that the insurance company didn't see an extra dime of profit from those rate hikes.

    I have a brother who has diabetes and in the past 5 years, he has either been declined coverage or quoted a very very high premium, so he has no insurance. But I don't blame the insurance system. They shouldn't have to cover people who are likely to cause a net loss on any given policy. He shouldn't have gotten diabetes in the first place.

    If we had a public option, my brother would have insurance, but some of the cost of it would be passed on to other tax payers. He would be able to pay for his life-saving insulin shots, but we would be on our way on the slippery slope to fascism, communism, socialism, or evilism.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  40. P. Lee

    Wow, some of these posts are outrageous!
    —Let be clear, we are not subsidizing Europe and the rest of the world on presciption drugs. (Not when the drugs co are making huge profits margins in the Billions. The make most of their profits on Lifesyle drugs such as Pepto bismol, Viagra and the likes. Just turn on your TV). Their gov. knew better by negotiating prices. And of course Bush took that away from Medicare! And Obama hasn't budged on this at all! Go figure.
    —As many have said on here. PROFITS SHOULD NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH HEALTH CARE! It’s people lives you’re playing with here!

    October 13, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  41. Lewis

    Ron, you said: "The whole problem in this debate (and I think people don’t get it), is that healthcare should not be a for-profit enterprise."

    Well, I don't think there's anything on the table now about doing that. The current debate is over how it's paid for, which necessarily focuses on insurance. Insurance itself is NOT "healthcare", nor is it the "health care industry". Insurance is a financial tool to manage risk, end of story. Insurance companies are NOT in the business of manging the state of your health, they only help pay for the health care options you take.

    What you are asking for is a federal takeover of our nation's hospitals, which would create a systsem not unlike the VA, which, as small as it is, today is riddled with abuse, mismanagement, and poor care. And the VA is small in comparison to the "health care system" proper.

    In order to have government involved in managing health care, it would take a constitutional amendment. But no one reads that thing anymore. If we had a government that functioned as designed the SC would step in and put a stop to all this nonsense.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  42. florence

    We couldn’t afford insurance for both of us. So, I got Kaiser paying almost $500/month, which is more than 1/3 of my income and my husband got none. So he went for years without seeing any doctors. When, finally last April, he got Medical/Medicare, he went for so called preventive tests and found out that has pretty advanced cancer. We immediately contacted City of Hope and were immediately seen by their doctor with no requirement for approval. Medicare and medical has been wonderful and we have no problem with them what so ever.
    I, on the other hand 3 months ago. came down with a very nasty cough and when I called Kaiser, I was told that the first available appointment for me to see my doctor was for 3 months later! And this was not the first time I encountered that. Almost every time I call I have to wait months to see my own doctor. They mostly refer us to a nurse practitioner or a novice doctor rather than our own doctor. And for every test, I have to fight and get really angry in order to get what I want.
    You can bet that those who take side with insurance companies and against public option are either totally stupid and uninformed, just like that old lady in town hall meeting in Florida who didn’t want the government to touch her Medicare, not knowing that her Medicare was indeed a government insurance, or selfish, or work for insurance companies and don’t want to see their paycheck shrinking like the rest of us.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  43. Robbie

    I work for a health insurance company. Our management is fighting to defeat health care reform. We could easily cut costs but that would require management to run the company lean and mean and that requires management talent that we don't have. It's a company loaded with connected employees who add no value. Friends of the management get jobs paying 6 figures and produce no real value. We routinely drop the insured for preexisting conditions. We raise rates every year. We increase deductibles and co-pays every year. We make tons of money and shovel it out to executives who couldn't run a lemonade stand. Do we need reform? Hell yes!

    October 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  44. SEZ

    If you think the insurance company has your health in mind, you really need to have your head examined. More people should take a look at the insurance company profit center called Medicare Part D. I have to pay for insurance that allows me to pay 300 to 1000 percent higher prices for the same drugs available from Canada (where there is a generic equivalent for every drug). Then, when my coverage runs out after a few pills, I have to continue to buy my obscenely overpriced drugs through the insurance company's approved co-conspirators in order to get any coverage on the other side of the "donut hole" (more like the Grand Canyon). And if I don't take this "insurance?" I will be penalized!
    Just the same, I will be dropping Part D next year. It is nothing but the insurance companies squeezing blood out of retirees.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  45. AGM

    Tom S. said "The government is a monopoly that will crush all competition…monopolies always provide high costs and terrible services.
    A public option will kill competition."

    If the government option would result in a program with high costs and terrible services, how would this kill all competition? Are you suggesting that consumers would flock to the public option en masse, even though it provided–in your words–terrible services? And are you further suggesting that after all competition was gone, the cost of the public option would dramatically increase?

    The thing that you neglect to consider in your arguments is that given a choice, consumers are intellegent enough to choose the insurance plan that is best for them. If the public option did provide "terrible services," wouldn't this cause a large number of consumers to seek private health insurance? While I do not concur with your statement that a public option would by default be expensive and poorly run, I do not see the logic in your argument that an expensive and poorly run program would cause the demise of private insurers.

    Many of those posting here have hit upon what I think are the two key issues in this debate: health insurance should not be a for-profit enterprise, and preventative care needs to be an integral part of any health insurance plan.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  46. Wiz

    To Ron on October 13th, 2009 11:17 am ET

    True – big business does not want to be regulated. And I agree that insurance cos. make way too much profit, Regulation is needed.

    Health care and insurance MUST be a for-profit enterprise – elsewise there is no incentive to PROVIDE insurance. Employees of non-profits don't make much $ either unless they are the big-shot grafters...

    I don't want Big Brother running the health-care system, either. How is the Post Office doing? Canadians who can't wait 6-12 mo for bureaucrat-controlled treatment come to the USA or die! All govt SHOULD do is PROTECT our freedoms from greedy and destructive entities.

    When the Govt runs businesses, we lose our FREEDOM of choice – the greatest tenet of the Constitution. So, When you stop feeding the unproductive, lazy, entitlement – welfare- mentality then people will rely on themselves again and this country will be GREAT again!

    October 13, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  47. Gaison

    Tom silvestrini argument fails to put into context "regulations", "regulations,"regulations". I believe in capitalism, but capitalism is not a blank cheque for infinite hike in profit margins like Premium. Tom, no capitalist society can survive "absolute capitalism" (it is in fact a theoretical model) because it is void of humanity in other words a 100% profit making entity. The people needs to be protected by her government. In your words you said, "How about government supplied food? Do you think the farmers and distributors of food would be interested in competing with the government?" Tom, do you know your Government subsidize agriculture every year? Think of this some. We need a public option in the health care reform; we cannot let the insurance government go amok.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  48. eli ojemuyiwa

    It is getting to open enrollment time. With our option, our premium has gone up again and so is our deductible., way up.
    We need the govt option to compete with these insurance companies.

    October 13, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  49. Kedren Reade Sitton

    uh huh, that's what I thought! Nothing to see here, move along! No rightward tendency at CNN, nosir! And you're offended at my baseless accusation at that, right?!

    October 13, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  50. Eric in WV

    @ Ron

    If we make health insurance non-profit what is next, companies that produce food and clothing? A public option model would probably look a lot like the US Postal Service. They have been raising rates and now want to cut service because they are losing money. Please explain to me why that is a good idea?

    October 13, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  51. Laurie

    Pretty difficult to make changes in health care until you change all the componets ...
    Medical industry – Providers,physicians, hospitals, labs,chiros ect,
    Insurance industry – both health and mal-practice
    Pharmaceutical profits
    Legal – attorney profits
    Public- lifestyles choices creating our own problems – removing moles when it poses no danger, go to the doctor for a cold, (you get the picture)

    I have worked in health care for 30 years and it has been my observation that... "you cant fix one without the other"

    October 13, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  52. James E

    How could the insurance company make a profit out of money they PAY OUT to the doctors & hospitals for claims?

    Every doctors and hospitals negotiates with the insurers which becomes the rate they will get for the contract year(s). Anyone who refuse to accept the rate are dropped from the network. It is similar to strong arming a person to pay a usury interest rate which you have no recourse but to pay. Here's another way to look at, look at your claims paid by the insurer, there you will find the rates which the insurer pays leaving the difference to you to pay out of your pocket. That's one way they can "control" the cost.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  53. Eric Lemieux

    Here in Canada, we have a public health system that works and nobody gets left behind. It's hilarious to hear Fox news and some other village idiots talk about deaths boards and other phony problems of the sort when, with US insurance companies, there is worse than deatth boards – people are simply denied coverage and die... The insurance companies are using the few failings in our system to try and paint the Canadian system as dysfunctional while at the same time, running a system that is based on profits and greed.

    I barely trust insurance companies to insure my car, so hell will freeze over before i'd trust my health to them.

    Of course the gross income of US doctors may end up being reduced but I don't see where in the constitution it's written that a glorified bachelor degree gives an automatic right to a BMW and a mansion at 30...

    October 13, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  54. NelsonM

    In the beginning of this big debate I was strongly in favor free health care for all Americans. I envisioned a tax payer funded system in which a person paid in from the age of 15 to 59, and recieved medical treatment for life. Of course there would be some slackers who never contributed, benefitting from the hard work and contributions of the industrious, but that's already happening everywhere you look. In my mind, everyone deserves the right to be healthy and have medical care to stay that way.
    That's a nice dream. A utopian fantasy. The fact of things is that not everyone can be allowed to live long healthy lives. Not every baby can be saved from life threatenning birth defects or complications from birth. Someone has to die. Some of us have to pay the ultimate price in order to leave room for new life to come. It's not a feel good idea, I know. It may be one of my loved ones or myself that pays that price early. I'm by no means wealthy enough to afford the best care available and if a life threatening accident or illness were to befall me or someone in my family, we could very well be the ones leaving room for others to come. That is the way of things.
    It's not pretty but it's real. And that's what I think I've become through my transformation of thought, a realist. Do I think the healthcare industry is crooked and needs regulating? Yes. Do I believe that everyone rich or poor, young and old alike, need unlimited access to healthcare reguardless of contribution? NO!!!

    October 13, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  55. Anon

    Can't these liars be indicted for perjury? I guess not, but we need to eliminate these greedy, lying, unethical companies completely. We need to socialize medicine in this country just like in Canada. You would still be able to go to any doctor you want if you have the money, but the rest of us would have a stable system which WE THE PEOPLE would control to provide health insurance. At the very least a public option is MANDATORY. If reform doesn't include the public option, they might as well stop now because it will just be more kow-towing to the insurance co's which give the corrupt politicians (republicans) all their campaign money.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  56. Mark

    In order to properly weigh in on this what needs to happen is that insurance experts get together with regulators and patients to hammer this thing out. The government should be the moderating entity not the advisary.

    Instead one side or the other digresses to throwing out obscure quotes in support of their own agenda... Typical.

    To quote a famous movie. "He bats 500 on even days against left handed pitchers."

    October 13, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  57. P. Lee

    This is right on! And this one doesn’t even offer a Public Option! But of course the Insurance industry are scared because it will eat up some of their Billion dollars profits! Poor me.
    —And those who support the Insurance either work for them and ignorant or totally ignorant about the issue. Hello, if most of the Industrialized world can do, why can't we? And please don't even bring the Postal example. How ludicrous is it to expect the Postal to operate like a for Profit business when it is only charging 44 cents to send first class letters? And people gripe about increases. (I think it should be subsidzed just like any other gov. agencies. And yes, it could be made more efficient!)
    —And what his name? Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana? One of his aids on the Healthcare commitee used to work for a Banking lobby group. And get this. She used to work for the gov. then onto some lobbying group and now she's back in the White House. Get the picture? It’s like a revolving door in DC! No wonder nothing that would make sense gets done! These people in Concgress are bought by Lobbyist groups w/ self serving interests! No wonder campaighn finance reforms get no where. Wake up people!

    October 13, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  58. Mark

    Tom said:

    "October 13th, 2009 11:14 am ET

    Wow, its amazing what CNN will do to support the President’s health care agenda. I would like anybody to show me one government program that works?"

    Let's see: USPS, Libraries, National Park System....

    What is scary is people with your lack of foresight or mental acumen are the ones yelling at the top of your lungs. And we wonder why things don't get done.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  59. Puliyur Srinivasan

    It is time that we all join and break the back of these blood sucking health insurance companies; the only people making money are them and the hospitals and doctors, who don't want to lose one penny by any reform. The Govt. should set the fee for every procedure (just like they are doing for medicare insurance holders) and no hospital should be allowed to negotiate with any insurance carriers, so all will have level playing field. Finally, the drug companies are the biggest suckers, charging outrageous amounts for their products, often with the excuse of providing for malpractice claims, that made lawyers like John Edwards filthy rich so he could have a mistress and $400 haircuts. Simultaneously, malpractice reform should also be enacted so that no one is going to walk away with millions of dollars!

    October 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  60. Risk Rock

    Your Health is the issue. Own it and stop complaining. Americans abuse themselves with sedentarism, smoking, obesity, and zero accountability over their own health (for the most part). Obama, tell the country to get up get well. You have a chance with that one. We are UNHEALTHY compared to any nation. 70% of diseases, treatments, costs, and Health Care demand are driven by discretionary things that could and should be avoided. Tobacco, Soft Drink and Fast Food companies continue to supersize us and feed the addictions, yet they are not held accountable. They have destroyed the health of our Nation.
    Health Care reform has little to do with insurers, and far more to do with the every day citizen taking control of their own health. Skyrocketing demand will prevent any solution from succeeding. Sure this comment wont win any votes, but anyone associated with Health Care, or Disease knows the facts. Health Insurers generate about a 3% margin on operations. They are not the enemy, just an easy target. They didnt sell you Smokes, or a Big Mac with fries. Potter is a nobody, and probably eats at McDonalds alot.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  61. jim

    This is an over-simplification of this issue and only one part of an immensely complex situation. Linda, insurance companies can make money on more claims if they act as an administrator for an employer, for example. This is a self-insured arrangement. If they get paid admin fees based on a percentage of claims, they make more money the higher the claims are. The employer takes all of the risk. Better if the admin fees are paid on a per-employee basis, so they're not as incented to allow claims to skyrocket. If the insurance company takes the risk and the employer merely pays the premium (fully insured arrangement), they have more skin in the game, but usually just pass along the cost increases. They have a lot of great preventive programs in theory, but in practice they are not very robust. The employers' response is to demand accountability, transparency, and to negotiate meaningul performance guarantees. Insurance companies can also be incented to keep claim costs down by means of the insurer and employer sharing the benefit of lower than expected claims costs. Money still speaks loudest, so employers need to negotiate fully insured arrangements with that in mind.

    Again, the insurance companies' role is just one piece of an immensely complex puzzle.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  62. Kedren Reade Sitton

    President Ike said beware the Military Industrial Complex in 1960, Garrick. I don't think you can mock this war hero with a purple bandaid, friend!

    No less true in 2009, RIGHT NOW! I'd only change "military industrial" to "financial"!

    I don't watch fox either, Garrick! It's OFF-SCALE right!

    In fact, CNN, let me suggest to you right here on this board, if you have the integrity left to let me through: your rightward tendency is getting off-putting to me as well! I'm finding scant and declining hope of your true journalist underpinnings!

    Here's another "beware", by the way: Beware the myth of the "liberal media"!

    October 13, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  63. JayVee in the ATL

    I'm so overjoyed to see the outpouring in the the comments section here to this post. Just when I thought my conviction in humanity was slipping, I see that actually, we 'are' united along the things that matters.

    Ending Corruption in Big Business!

    The 'business' of the healthcare industry is the same as ALL businesses. to Make Money. Until they are rewarded instead for 'prevention' actions instead of 'profit' activities, this will only get worse and could indeed be the bone that breaks America.

    Stand up to these multi-billion dollar stockholders, living on the fat of american dollars, in their multi-million dollar mansions (in multiple countries), counting the ways of their continued dominance, of crushing the american people!!

    Obama being elected was 'not' the 'New Revolution'. America's 'new revolution' is about us all caring for others – and not letting 'anyone' ANYONE, be taken advantage of by someone better off than them.

    Be an 'american' for once, drop the political lines, and do what is 'best' for the 'people' not the 1/2 of 1% living off the fat hog of the rest of us 9-5ers!!

    October 13, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  64. David in Maryland

    re: Tom's comment, "...I would like anybody to show me one government program that works?" I could show him lots of programs.

    Here's just one small example: This past summer I attended several concerts at Wolftrap National Park of the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia. Never have I seen such a model of efficiency and smooth operations. Also on the federal level, the Marine Corps runs pretty well. And yesterday I talked to a veteran who loves his VA health coverage.

    In Lafayette Louisiana the local government offers phone, cable and internet service at 20% less cost than commercial competitors. Here in Montgomery County Maryland our public schools consistently rank among the 200 best in the U.S. according to "Newsweek."

    The list could go on. There are public agencies at all levels of government doing great things.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  65. IsabellaClark

    This man reminds me of the guy in the cigarette industry who tried to tell the truth about the dangers of smoking. Like him, Potter is being called a liar and a loser. It is difficult to speak the truth in this country when there is so much misinformation propagated by huge, infinitely wealthy corporations who will protect their often ill-won profits at any cost. Health care, above all, should not be a for-profit industry. Big Pharma should be regulated, we pay more for medication than any country on the earth. It is way past time for a reform of these industries.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  66. Concerned in SC

    I'm not naive enough to believe insurance companies are in healthcare because they care about our health. But neither am I naive enough to believe the government wants to get into healtcare because it cares about our health. There is money in healthcare...period. Nothing much will change with this bill as far as us getting better healthcare. I happen to believe the opposite will happen. The only real difference will be our money will be going to the greedy politicians in Washington rather than the greedy insurance industry. Just think. You will now be REQUIRED to have health insurance. If you can't afford it, YOU get to PAY our US government $1800 and YOU STILL WON'T HAVE INSURANCE! Wake up people!

    I do feel sorry for those who have lost their jobs in this economy and don't have healthcare. I've been without health insurance for more than half of my 36 years in the workforce so I know what that means. I've had $10,000 bills for one day in the hospital. But it still scares me to think that this bill could cost me and other working Americans money and not change that for anyone.

    The only ones really benefitting from this are the same lazy people who don't want to work and don't want to help themselves but want the rest of us to pay their way in life. And the rest of us will do just that...pay and pay and pay and pay. And, no, I don't make a big salary. I'm just your average American making an average wage but I pay dearly for the right to work and I know the lazy ones will find a way to get their healthcare free...just like they do now. By the way...I paid all of my $10,000 bill myself with no help from anyone.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  67. RPM

    To those who object to the government run health option...Hellooo, it's OPTIONAL!!

    If it turns out to be so bad, go with the corporate, profit based plan of your choice (if you have a choice).

    October 13, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  68. Samuel Markes

    Perhaps I'm just a fool, but are we saying that an industry, motivated solely by profit, is more trustworthy than a government, whose aim would naturally be to reduce costs as much as possible?

    Don't misunderstand, I don't think the government is perfect. To be sure, they have not acted in the best interests of the people at all times (for instance, creating tax breaks at the start of a recession that cost the government 2.7 trillion over the last 10 years). However, I am quite certain that the insurance industry is not even slightly motivated to reduce costs for we the people. Their policies and practices are the epitome of arbitrary and capricious.

    I am not amazed but disappointed that the public has allowed itself once again to be dupped into eating yet another serving of political pabulum at the expense of the long term health of this country. Yet we eat it, again and again.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  69. Patrick

    Tom - you want someone to name one government program that works. Here you go, Medicare and Medicade. Guess what, these are health care programs too. You are obviously are a follower, not a leader since you can not come up with your own opinion, you just reiterate what your Republican party has taught you to say.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  70. Eric of Reseda

    This is just a LIBERAL PLOT – and Potter is just a Liberal operative – to weaken our country...by weakening the good people at our American health insurance companies who only want to make America strong by maintaining PRIVATE insurance plans! Because we ALL know that if that Socialist Nazi Obama has his way, every American citizen will have access to affordable health care, including the children. Next thing you know, we'll be marching in-step with the Communists, the government will take our guns, and those poor folks at the insurance companies won't be able to make the un-Godly and too often illegal profits that they are entitled to in this great country of ours!

    October 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  71. Gary Levine

    To all those who think that insurance companies take your premiums and put them in a checking account, waiting to pay claims, you are very misguided, or very uninformed. This is a waste of money, from a purely economic standpoint. These premiums are usually invested, to make this money work for the company. Money sitting around is money wasted. Part of regulation is keeping track of where insurance companies invest, and who actually sees any of the profits.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  72. Shingo from CA

    Insurance companies are NOT about health care. They are a business pure and simple. Their business can be a life or death issue for you but for them you are either a profit or loss. If you have an accident, get old, get cancer you are a loss.

    Insurance companies need to be regulated. A total free market can bring a total free fall in the economy. A total regulated market can stifle the market. In the middle we need to have regulations on the insurance industry. Our lives and our economy depend on it.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  73. susanne in Pa.

    It's the time of the year where a lot of companies go through open enrollment for our choices of benefits for the upcoming year.. My company has already been hinting and trying to soften the blow regarding our premiums. They have gone up exponentially over the last several years and from what I am gathering they will be going up again. This is why a public option would help. Maybe it would create some competion in the market place and some of these companies would have to lower premiums, expand coverage and really get to where they should be for their clients Doctors and Patients alike..

    October 13, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  74. Censorship in Practice form at CNN--S Callahan NYS

    At the rate things are going, and the decption from both the Insurance companies and political operatives, I am at the point I'm ready to say go for the Public Option...despite having been an ardent supporter of the co ops. It truly just amazes me the corruption, deception people do all for a dollar which they can't even take with them to heaven. Sadly for them, their dollars they idoltrized will just turn to dust in the end.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  75. T

    This whole interview is contrived propaganda to support Pelosi and her ilk. Sorry Potter was going to be axed, he is a bitter old man who wants to see America suffer. That is exactly what will happen if this disaster bill is passed.
    All those in favor of a public option should step back a moment and relook at things. The Gov't has run the post Office , Medicare / Medicaid,Social Security , Freddie and Fannie and the list grows into bankruptcy..does anyone really think our Gov't is competent enough to run a program as important as health Care- ABSOLUTELY NOT.
    Obama, should stick to what he does best appear daily on TV and talk about nothing.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  76. johnrj08

    THIS WHOLE THING IS A RUSE BY THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY. THEY LOVE THE BAUCUS BILL.

    The bill mandates coverage and provide government (tax-payer) subsidies for those who can't afford the escalating premiums. What more could the insurance industry want?

    Max Baucus has taken more than $3.5 million from the private insurance industry, which pretty much co-wrote the Finance Committee's bill. It is disgusting.

    I DO NOT buy that the insurance industry is upset about this bill. They know better than anyone that public sentiment is against them and that anything they support will be seen as self-serving. So, now, they're using this new tactic to convince people they don't like the bill which they helped to write.

    Without a public option in health care reform, millions of Americans are going to go without coverage, or they will be forced to buy coverage with bloated premiums, excessive deductibles and higher co-pays.

    Write your Congressman.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  77. The Knife

    It is very simple....it the penalties for not buying coverage are not severe enough, guess what? People will just pay the penalty and continue to go uncovered.

    The only people who will buy this now guaranteed coverage will be those who know they need it...not the healthy people that we need in the system. So overall claims go up and so does everyone's cost.

    You need healthy people paying into the system same as the auto insurance market needs good drivers to keep costs down for EVERYONE.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  78. ccbrother444

    TOM–

    Cash for clunkers.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  79. Holly Shull

    Yes, we pay for the COST of healthcare through our premiums...we also contribute in a big way to the health insurance companies' profits exceeding $1.56 BILLION dollars for 2008! Not to forget the lobbyists expense–in an effort to defeat our Presidents effort to protect their interests for just the first three months this year (according to the Washington Post article, Lobbyists Spend Millions... July 21, 2009)– "Many health companies and associations increased their first-quarter lobbying expenditures, sometimes dramatically. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association upped its lobbying expenditures by a full million, to 2.8 million dollars in the second quarter; GlaxoSmithKline's spending jumped from $1.8 million to $2.3 million; Novartis grew from $1.4 million to $1.8 million; and Metlife Group reported $1.7 million, up nearly 50 percent. Allstate, which spent less than $900,000 on lobbying through March, boosted its spending to more than $1.5 million from April to June." People, wake up! It is time to take the Insurance companies–not to mention Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers–out of the drivers seat!!

    October 13, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  80. J W Simms

    Perhaps once in a lifetime, someone will come down the pike carrying a satchel full of conscience and integrity, this trip that person seems to be Wendell Potter. Good luck to you sir and thank you for your input. J.W. Simms.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  81. Ed

    Since when has there been honest insurance companies? It is a big lucrative business which is why they are not comfortable when regular folks like us have a choice. Most may be so tired that they will decide to 'stick it to them' for all the years of continual siphoning of our money and lack luster care/concern.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  82. foxFIRE

    I trust my employer to do what is best for me! They would never lay me off, I'm loyal and responsible. They will always provide me with an insurance policy that is a good value.

    I also trust my insurance company to do what is best for me. They would never deny a claim for a technicality. They would never ever hurt a good policy holder or charge me tooo much!

    I hate the nasty liberal government for trying to get in the way of my sweeeeet deal!

    Later on we're going to the zoo to see Rush!

    October 13, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  83. Wolf Conover

    My two cents...
    I'm 84 and I realize that death is impossible to avoid. We Americans should wake up to the fact that no amount of medical care will keep us alive.
    But most of us l feel that if we do enough "medicine" preferably at some one else's expense, we won't die. Let's face facts.
    I don't feel that way and would refuse expensive medical work to extend my life for a short period.
    This said, we'll see if I have the strength of my convictions when it comes to a choice!

    October 13, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  84. AlanM

    As I read the comments posted here I am often amazed how so many like to speak for me. I am part of the "American Public" and I so do support health care reform and the "Public Option". Health care has a great deal of money to spread around, money stolen from it's subscribers, and has spent a great deal of it polluting the minds of the public. Hmmmm, which do I want? Some corporate vampire making profit driven decisions about my health care or my doctor? One last point. Jim Greer, (Florida Republican Party Chairman), you also don't speak for me or any other Floridian with a conscience!

    October 13, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  85. Richard

    As a Canadian, who has used our own public health care system for 40 years, I cannot believe the lies the business oriented spokespeople fighting against "health care for all" in the US have created. My wife has a liver transplant, my sister-in-law has MS, my mother-in-law had heart by-passes and my daughter had a lumpectomy last month and other various relatives and friends have been sick and well treated here with the highest level of professionalism because of our medicare system. And none of us have paid a dime. If we get sick, it doesn't mean we lose our life's savings or house. As for Shona Holmes who mortgaged her house and went to the US for prompt surgery (which cost her $100,000) it wasn't even necessary. The tumour she had did not need immediate surgery according to specialists here. No one had ever died from her type of tumour. So, naturally, she was prioritized for its treatment. She didn't like that so she needlessly spent one hundred grand for an operation in the US. The insurance companies in the US found her, treated her to fancy hotels and meals and so she performed for them like a trained seal. What a travesty. But when she was interviewed in Canada by CBC, she backed right down on claims our health care system had failed her. It was her own insecurity and impatience that made her do what she did. Here people with more serious issues go to the head of the line. Some truths: we choose what doctor we want. We go to the doc whenever sick. I needed an MRI twice and got it within seven days. We don't have bureaucrats or insurance companies interfere...EVER! Also the numbers re wait times in Canada claimed by the GOP are also lies as docs here testified. Our own health care people were shocked that senior news interviewers (such as from the FOX network) were quoting exaggerated wait times. As one Canadian official said: "You would think that reporters at such a senior level would have done their homework." Unfortunately, there are insurance and drug companies in the US who don't want public health care as it will negatively affect their profits and so they will lie, subvert, omit and create falsehoods. It's amazing how they twist the truth to get people riled up. A public option is needed. For such a great country (and most of us Canadians feel that the US is a fantastic country) it is hardly believable that it has taken so long to get health care for everyone.
    Don't listen to the right-wing fear mongers like Limbaugh. he makes $30 million a year so he's well protected if he gets sick. I am always amazed that he would deny health care for every American. Yes, we have socialized medicine and it is super. Do your own research. Don't believe the lies.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  86. mikeh

    A public option is an OPTION. You don't want the government to run your insurance don't use their option. Use the same insurance you have had. Stop lying about the government is going to run insurance, understand the plan instead of just listening to one liners from politicians. There is no harm in the government supplying another option for us.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  87. thetimeisnow

    This whole issue is illustrative of the grip that big business, not just insurance, has on our government. There can no longer be any doubt about who really controls things. No big company wants additional regulation and will go to great expense to stop it. Think big oil. Think Haliburton and "no-bid" gov't contracts. Think big pharma. You name it... None of this was envisioned in the Constitution. It's time for patriots everywhere to rally and throw corporations out of Washingon.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  88. Sheila

    If one does not like health insurance, don't buy it. Pay for your health care yourself. It just might be that the real cost is in the health care industry, not the health insurance industry – or just maybe one is reponsible for all the cause of this uproar by living an unhealthy lifetsyle. I think more personal responsibility is in order here.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  89. SurRy

    Until our "representatives" are forced to wear suits with the names of their corporate sponsors (think NASCAR drivers), check this site to find out which companies own your legislator and why he/she doesn't think we need any health insurance reform: http://www.opensecrets.org/

    October 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  90. Ron

    Public option, please! That's what we need. Is anybody listening out there?

    October 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  91. livewiremd

    If anyone has been deceptive about this whole issue, it has to be the President and the Congress. First, they try to rush a vote past citizens after negotiating in secret. Then they say illegal aliens won't get this healthcare, but refuse to put that language in any bill. They say they can add MILLIONS of people to coverage without raising our cost or taxes?? This money has to come from somewhere.It isnt coming from those who don't pay taxes....but expect free services.
    Congressional approval rating is 30%!! Who wants to
    take advice from people who are so poorly respected?
    Name ONE large government program that is successful, aside from our military. Anytime these folks get involved in our lives THEY get more powerful and we get poorer. CHANGE BACK to sanity!

    October 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  92. Shannon Lien

    If ever there was an argument for a public option, it is the threat of insurance to raise premiums even further. Employers are now having to cut back on or drop health insurance benefits because the costs have become usurious. And if you do not have insurance through your employer, you are sunk. If you lost your job, you cannot get health insurance. If you have any kind of pre-existing condition, heaven forbid, you cannot get insurance. It is beyond absurd.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  93. MartinSA

    what is ignored is that sure–there will be more people paying into the health insurance pool, but there will be requirments for more people to be getting service. the fact that health insurers will be forced to limit denials of coverage (while a good thing and not disputed) is something that will contribute to costs. more people getting more services from a bigger pool of money is still going to be a problem. it's the same logic behind the social security system.

    where as in the past the ratio for Social Security was 20+ people for every 1 recipient, it is now roughly 5+people for every 1 recipient and quickly shrinking.

    for the insurance companies–past models could be something like 20 clients for every 1 cancer patient covered, the system will now become 20 for every 10 patient covered. now, I'm not saying insurance companies need to keep denying coverage, but the ratio of resources to patients is a big aspect of health care that is often ignored. especially when we consider that of 20 clients receiving coverage are paying for 10 more high cost care patients which takes away money for little Timmy's appendix operation or Grandpa's pills.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  94. Tony

    "Shills" on Capital Hill?

    ...so the insurance industry can get away with lying because they have all the politicians in their pocket.

    ..the same majority of politicians that will vote AGAINST the insurance industry's wishes and FOR reform?

    I'm confused. Where are all these "shills" that protect the insurance industry?

    Towards the end of the interview, Potter says "This is a desperation move on the part of the insurance industry..."

    Why are they in desperation if they have all these "shills" in their pockets???

    October 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  95. Jim in San Mateo

    Yikes, there's someone who would prefer a decision maker with a profit motive to make decisions about their health care than a decision maker with a health motive? Obviously, they've never been denied care by an insurance company. If your daughter's life could be saved by a proven, yet insurance-considered experimental treatment, you would honestly say, sure let her die to preserve the insurance company profits?

    There are many experts who have looked at the report and pronounced it bogus. Believing this report is like believing the fox who comes out of the hen house to tell you that your chickens are safe.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  96. Humanitarian

    "If you cannot afford healthcare, too bad for you. Only those who can afford it should have it. And I trust the insurance companies and the Republican Party to know what’s best for me and my family."
    What's wrong with this remark? OHH!! I get it.. if you are poor, and can't afford healthcare, then you are just Out of Luck!!
    I hope this statement is copied all over the Internet. This is the fundamental attitude of those whom we call Loyal Republicans. This comment speaks volumes for the Party Of No!
    We need healthcare reform for the following reasons:
    1. One American dies every 12 minutes – 45,000 per year – due to NO health insurance or denial of health insurance claims.
    2. 60% of all personal bankrupticies in this country occur due to major illnesses costing more than people can pay. Most of us are only a major illness away from bankruptcy.
    3. Costs of healthcare insurance are second only to mortgage payments per month for families and individuals. Soon, my health care costs will exceed my monthly mortgage payment.
    4. Costs of healthcare insurance are creating financial hardships for small businesses. Despite tax breaks for small business, the costs of health care for employees is a burden on small business owners.
    We need healthcare reform because the system is broken, and it is the Right thing to do for our People.
    I wonder what Jesus would do? Ask yourselves that question.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm |
  97. Dr.Vishwa RP Sinha

    Every American and people living in America and the world at large should read this article . The credibility of the Pricewaterhouse Cooper report has to be judged by everyone in view of the company present global image. In the name of capitalism one can get away with any thing and public health concern of the government is dubbed as socialism. Insurance Companies have been thoroughly exposed and public option is the right answer for them.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:40 pm |
  98. DTM

    I don't know who robl and davel are, but the both use the same talking points – Mr. Potter has an 'axe to grind'. These aren't real people, they're employees of PR firms and Insurance companies meant to discredit a qualified voice of reason. There is no balance to this argument, it really is us against them. My fire department runs well, my police force works (ok), water treatment, post office, military, etc. – all are effective, government run organizations. Universal Healthcare Now.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:40 pm |
  99. Nobody N. Particular

    Linda October 13th, 2009 12:25 pm ET

    Easy, they pay only a portion of the bill; then leave the rest between the medical provider and the patient. That is what happened to me, had a broken foot, need minimal PT, and the insurance company refused to pay so the medical center came after me. The goal of an insurance company is to charge as much as they can get from their customers, then pay out as little as they can get away with, leaving the rest in some investiment that makes money (the CEOs get big bonus if they maximize return of the primiums and minimize the payouts).

    October 13, 2009 at 12:39 pm |
  100. Paul

    "And I trust the insurance companies and the Republican Party to know what’s best for me and my family."

    –Is this guy joking? I hope so. It would be hard for me to believe that this country is so far gone.

    Every other modern nation has a government-funded health insurance. They may not all be perfect, but they are better than the US health care system. And NONE of the people in those countries would ever want our system.
    Those who think that a government-funded healthcare system would ruin the US are either liars or being lied to.
    But I guess we need that extra money for killing people, instead of healing people....

    October 13, 2009 at 12:39 pm |
1 2 3