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REPORT: Duplicitous Campaign Of Insurers To Charm The Public While Secretly Killing Reform

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cal04 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:43 PM
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NOTE: This is the third installment of our series Meet Your Insurance Company Executive: An Interview with Wendell Potter.

This week, ThinkProgress spoke with Wendell Potter, a former VP of communications at health insurance giant CIGNA, about exactly how insurance companies derail reform and preserve the status quo. Working in public relations for CIGNA, Potter had a direct role in multiple campaigns in the past to minimize public outrage at insurance company abuses, defeat legislation aimed at regulating insurers, and the massive effort to discredit Michael Moore and his movie SiCKO. In addition to enormous amounts of money spent in direct lobbying and campaign contributions, Potter spelled out exactly how insurance companies have prepared to defeat meaningful reform.

Planned well before this year, insurance company CEOs, like Potters former boss at CIGNA (H. Edward Hadway), formed a group called the Strategic Communications Committee to developed effective messages and strategy for the industry. Organized through AHIP, the lobbying front for insurance companies, the committee would work with large public relations companies to devise a two-pronged, duplicitous campaign. Because insurance companies suffer from low public approval, Potter said, the industry would present itself as for reform to the public, yet at the same time label proponents of meaningful reform as extreme. The public campaign is for the most part positive, and largely delivered by industry representatives like AHIP chief lobbyist Karen Ignagni. Potter noted:

Its really a duplicitous PR campaign. They will talk about, in broad terms, how supportive they are of health care reform, but they will be working behind the scenes to kill very, very crucial parts of reform legislation like the public option.

Potter then explained how insurers would use a variety of front groups, set up by PR companies like APCO, to advance a hidden attack campaign. The dirty campaign involved feeding talking points to right-wing media, like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. It also includes the creation of front groups to run negative advertisements about reform and mobilize anti-reform grassroots groups. Finally, insurers would coordinate with, and sometimes fund, conservative think-tanks to produce academic-appearing reports to advance their cause. Leaked memos from the insurance companies regarding the campaign against Moores SiCKO movie not only support Potters assertions, but specifically describe every step of this process.

Watch Potter explain how insurers control the debate to defeat reform: /

To better illustrate the insurers two-faced campaign to kill reform, we have produced this chart. Click more to continue continue reading and to view the chart.
(chart at link)

Click here for ThinkProgress research page on the health insurers campaign against reform.
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msongs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:51 PM
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1. of course the democratic party INC is not making a big deal of this...or anything of it. too bad nt
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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:53 PM
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2. They may wish to hire a different PR company...
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tnlefty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:56 PM
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3. K & R!
Thanks. :hi:
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Nikki Stone1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:57 PM
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4. And to the greatest page with you
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kenny blankenship Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 06:11 PM
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5. An important background fact: they've been preparing to subvert this debate for YEARS now
Sicko was probably their Red-Alert event. They've had what they've wanted scripted out between lobbyists and Democratic Party players since before the 2008 election season began.
People around here think "we" are leading the insurance industry around by the nose in a game of 10 dimensional chess, when it is in fact the other way around. They bought all the people they needed to buy in advance, and gamed out every "reform" scenario we can think of, along with how to stop them.

Everything since you heard "Single Payer is off the table" has been gravy for them.
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 07:32 PM
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6. APCO has been dirty for a very long time
They were deeply involved with the tobacco industry in the 90's. They've worked to spruce up the images of some the nastiest dictators in the 'stans. And their methods are as dirty as their clients. I'm not at all surprised the health insurance companies are using their services as well.

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 06:14 AM
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7. Here's TP's chart...
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