I didn’t watch the video, but instead read the transcript, which is conveniently placed directly below the video. And as I read, my blood began to boil.
Moyers was interviewing Wendell Potter, who until he retired recently, was the head of corporate communications for CIGNA, the gigantic health care insurer. Potter, during the course of the interview, proceeded to blow the top off what’s behind the current opposition to health care reform in both American political parties.
We all know that health insurance companies are in the business for profit. What we may not know (or perhaps would rather not believe) is that they’re in the business for profit even if it means bankrupting us with catastrophic health care bills, denying us coverage for vital treatments and care, or even dropping us and allowing us to die. Their bottom line is profit. If you or I get too sick, despite faithfully paying premiums year after year, then to hell with us. Will we die without treatment? Who cares? That’s our problem if we start costing our health insurance provider more than they want to pay. If we start cutting into their profit margin, we’re dead weight.
This didn’t come as huge surprise to me. What did was Potter’s candor. Apparently he’s afraid of going to hell if he continues to sit by, complicit, while the health insurance company he worked for and all the others profit from American illnesses and death. Potter, on a whim, visited a health care expo in Wise, Virginia. There he saw hundreds of uninsured Americans lined up to see doctors who’d volunteered their time and expertise in an attempt to bring some sort of health care to those who couldn’t afford it. Potter was stunned. He went back to his job shaken and unsure about what he and his company were doing to those who relied on them for, in many cases, their very lives.
“And it was hard to just figure out. How do I step away from this? What do I do? And this was one of those things that made me decide, "Okay, I can't do this. I can't keep-- I can't." One of the books I read as I was trying to make up my mind here was President Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage."
And in the forward, Robert Kennedy said that one of the president's, one of his favorite quotes was a Dante quote that, "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain a neutrality." And when I read that, I said, "Oh, jeez, I-- you know. I'm headed for that hottest place in hell, unless I say something."
Mr. Potter finally got a clue. He testified before Congress in support of a public option that will allow all Americans to get quality health care, regardless of income or health, and in support of health care reform.
Most of us know of someone who’s had medical procedures or medications denied because their health care provider refuses to pay for it, even with a co-pay. Some of us know people who've had their provider drop them entirely. And some of us know people who cannot get health care insurance at all –or who face huge monthly premiums that are beyond their means – because they’re already sick. It would cost the provider way too much to help them, improve their quality of life or even save their lives.
This is a horror.
It is vital that health care reform includes, at the very least, a public option. Please watch the Moyers video or read the transcript. Then call or write your representatives in Congress and tell them to make fair, affordable, quality health care available to all Americans, not just to those who can afford to feed the profits of the health care industry while praying that they never, ever get really sick.