Wendell Potter, Former VP Corporate Communications For Cigna, Testifies In Las Vegas Trial Regarding Role of Health Plan of Nevada In Hepatitis C Outbreak

Cites First Objective of HMO To Enhance Stockholder Value

Mar 06, 2013, 00:01 ET from SCM

LAS VEGAS, March 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Wendell Potter, former VP of communications for health insurance giant Cigna, took the stand today in the trial regarding the role of the Health Plan of Nevada in the largest hepatitis C outbreak in U.S. history. Potter was responsible for strategic communications, crafting PR positions consistent with financial reporting to stockholders and Wall Street. Potter systematically outlined the health care system as share holder and Wall Street driven, paying out as little as possible to members for maximum profit. Author of Deadly Spin, An Insurance Insider Speaks Out On How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans, Potter testified the first objective of the HMO is to enhance stockholder value.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130305/LA72031)

On June 24, 2009, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Potter testified, "The average family doesn't understand how Wall Street's dictates determine whether they will be offered coverage, whether they can keep it, and how much they'll be charged for it. But, in fact, Wall Street plays a powerful role. The top priority of for-profit companies is to drive up the value of their stock. Stocks fluctuate based on companies' quarterly reports, which are discussed every three months in conference calls with investors and analysts. On these calls, Wall Street investors and analysts look for two key figures: earnings per share and the medical-loss ratio, or medical 'benefit ratio,' as the industry now terms it. That is the ratio between what the company actually pays out in claims and what it has left over to cover sales, marketing, underwriting and other administrative expenses and, of course," Potter testified, "profits."

Wendell Potter received the 2011 Ridenhour book prize that honors an outstanding work of social significance, published over 250 articles, and has been an analyst on MSNBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NPR. He is scheduled to testify before the House Health Subcommittee on Thursday, March 7, 2013 and is featured in Escape Fire, The Fight to Reduce America's Healthcare, set to air on CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta's medical show Sunday, March 10, at 8pm PST.