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Health insurance critic to warn to Vt. Legislature

Mon, 02/21/2011 - 7:45am
The Associated Press

A former health insurance executive turned critic has been invited to speak at the Vermont Statehouse on what he says is the potential danger the industry's practices might have on health care reform in Vermont.

Wendell Potter, the former head of communications for health insurer Cigna, will speak Thursday in Montpelier, followed by an appearance in Burlington on Friday night.

Potter, who has testified before committees in Congress and legislators in other states, said he plans to talk about "what insurance companies are capable of doing in terms of sabotaging the best laid plans to reform the health care system."

The author of "Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans" said he will discuss actual strategies he was part of to derail or reshape reform in his 20 years in the industry. He left Cigna in 2008, after about 15 years with the company.

"So I'll be kind of apprising lawmakers and the public about what to expect in the weeks and months ahead as the Legislature and state in general tries to figure out how best to proceed in reforming the health care system in Vermont," said Potter who is now a senior analyst with the Center for Public Integrity.

In response to inquiries about Potter, CIGNA said its 30,000 employees around the globe work hard to improve the health of all those they serve.

Gov. Peter Shumlin's administration wants to move the state toward a health care system in which all providers would be paid by a single entity either run by the state or under contract with the state with a basic benefit package going to all residents.

The address is being sponsored by Vermont Health Care for All, which advocates for single payer health care in Vermont, UVM United Academics, United Professions AFT Vermont, and Vermont Physicians for a National Health Program.

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