Health Execs Get Richer as Some Americans Beg for Help to Pay Bills

On Monday, I wrote about the good fortune of UnitedHealth Group, one of the big seven for-profit health insurance companies, and its CEO, Stephen J. Hemsley. Last week, UnitedHealth pleased Wall Street so much with its report of earnings during the first three months of this year that investors clamored to buy the company’s stock.

By the time the New York Stock Exchange closed last Thursday, shares of UnitedHealth’s stock had shot up more than 8 percent and reached their

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A Prize for Simply Doing What’s Right

This week I received a Ridenhour Prize for my book, Deadly Spin. I’m honored to receive the award, especially in light of my fellow recipients: former Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin; the producers of a film called Budrus, about attempts to find non-violent solutions to the strife in the Middle East, and Thomas Drake, an NSA contractor who blew the whistle on what he believed were corrupt practices. Past honorees have included Bill Moyers and Bob Herbert. Elite company.…

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Death Panels, Fact and Fiction

“Death panels” are back in the news and Congress is turning its attention to them once again. The problem is, lawmakers are looking in all the wrong places.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, now headed by Republicans, sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week demanding to know how a controversial provision that was excised from last year’s health reform bill wound up — briefly — in a government “rule” on physician reimbursement.

The …

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N.C. Consumer Advocates Seeing Red Over Bait and Switch by One of the Blues

RALEIGH, N.C. — Health insurers are demonstrating once again — this time in state capitals — that they cannot be trusted to do the right thing for consumers when health care reform is up for debate.

President Obama and Congressional leaders learned the hard way that insurance executives were playing them like a Stradivarius in promising to be good-faith partners on reform. In the end, though, the politicians realized that insurers had been carrying out a duplicitous PR strategy from …

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An Illuminating Expedition to the World of the Uninsured

As Congressional Republicans seek ways to starve the new health care reform law of necessary funding — and Democrats try to keep that from happening — it’s easy to lose sight of the reasons why reform was pursued in the first place.

For a reminder, lawmakers might want to spend a few hours in Nashville this weekend. I’m betting they would behave differently when they got back to Washington on Monday.

If they arrived in Nashville by Friday afternoon, those …

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‘How Everybody Exists’ Doesn’t Have To Be

If you want to know how things really get done in Washington — or don’t get done, depending on the desires of America’s corporate executives — all you have to do is read a couple of paragraphs in a Jan. 23 Philadelphia Inquirer story (see page 2).

Reporter Joe DiStefano quotes a vice president at APCO Worldwide — one of DC’s most powerful and influential PR firms — in response to questions about my book, Deadly Spin. Throughout the …

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‘Friendly Reminder’: Fox’s Unbalanced Ethics Threatens Democracy

Faux News
Image copyright P. Thompson (

Anyone who still clings to the notion that Fox News is actually a news organization rather than a propaganda machine for special interests — and that it actually is led by journalists who adhere to the code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists — must read the leaked memos Media Matters for America disclosed this morning.

Under the heading of “Fox boss caught slanting news reporting,” Media Matters shared on its …

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Edelman’s Glass House

Edelman logoOver Thanksgiving week, the head of the global PR firm Edelman publicly complained about my tough critique of the damage the PR industry has done through campaigns that deceive consumers.

On the one hand, I was a bit surpised by Edelman’s rather absurd claim that I had “no right to say” that big PR firms have a reputation for deceiving people, and that I should not have called into question the (profit) motive of PR practitioners who are really just …

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Must ‘Ethical PR’ be an Oxymoron, Richard Edelman?

[Cross-posted on,, and]

A few days ago, the Sammie Lynn Puett Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) invited me to speak at the University of Tennessee’s PR Day. It was more of an honor to be asked than the students will ever know. I don’t think many of them knew I was a charter member of that PRSSA chapter back in the ’70s and that Sammie Lynn Puett, a revered figure on campus …

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My Apologies to Michael Moore and the Health Insurance Industry

Alex Potter, Michael Moore, Wendell Potter
(L-R) Alex Potter, Michael Moore and Wendell Potter at the official U.S. premiere of Sicko, June 16, 2007

In advance of my appearance with Michael Moore on Countdown with Keith Olbermann tonight on MSNBC (8 and 11 p.m. ET), I would like to offer an apology to both Moore and his archenemy, the health insurance industry, which spent a lot of policyholder premiums in 2007 to attack his movie, Sicko.

I need to apologize to Moore for the role …

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