Monday, November 8, 2010

Deadly Spin -- How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care

*Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is
Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans*

*Greg Crowhurst 8th Nov 2010*

*(permission to repost) *

I burned the dinner last night, so enthralled  was I by Time magazine's (
Nov 15 p. 20) review of Wendell Potter's *Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company
Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving
Americans,  *which is finally  out this week : Nov 9th.

Flinging open all the windows, trying to get rid of the smoke, I was praying
that  a lot more smoke and fire will be generated by this  blazing expose of
the medical insurance industry.

  Potter, according to Time  :

"*exposes how corporations manipulate public opinion in the service of
shareholders ,forming  front groups, touting misleading studies and
enlisting sympathetic media types to further their causes."*


..It was like reading our life story. For anyone with ME, these words put in
a nutshell all that is so wrong . Everyone knows that it  precisely because
of the power of the Medical Insurance lobby  that  we have the CDC and
Oxford definitions, that we have the nonsense term : "CFS",  that we have
CBT and GET,  rather than a physical cure.We  all know this.

But how hard to talk to anyone about what we know ,  without hearing oneself
sound like  a crackpot  conspiracy theorist. Well maybe from this week, it
will be easier to have that confabulation.

As Mercurio states :

"*What's truly novel about **Deadly Spin **is that it provides an inside
look at how health insurance industry spinmeisters mobilize to justify the
actions of health plans that deny care, to discredit supporters of
healthcare reform, and to position the industry as "part of the solution" to
our healthcare problems.  The formula: extensive use of industry-funded front groups, fearmongering campaigns, disinformation and reliable industry allies (third-party advocates and pundits) to disseminate pro-health plan messages that can't be traced to insurers

One example  Potter gives concerns  the use of PR firm APCO Worldwide  who
were  recruited by insurance giant Cigna , "t*o place stories with
reporters, editors, and producers it had good relationships with and to get
'third parties' to convey Cigna's messages*."after a 17-year-old health plan
member died of cancer , because she was  denied coverage of a liver

He also describes how the industry   hired PR firm Porter Novelli to set up
the Health Benefits Coalition, which effectively killed the Patients Bill
of Rights in the late 90's.

Who are these people, I have often wondered, who cause so much suffering ???
Potter's description is harrowing :

*"I didn't feel then that we were doing anything unethical or underhanded.
We were all well read and well educated….We all wore nice clothes and ate at
the best restaurants and had kids in good schools and houses in the right
zip codes.  We knew people in Congress and the White House.  We talked every
day to reporters at the **Wall Street Journal **and the **New York Times**.
We were powerful and influential….The American dream didn't get any better
than this."*


In a House of Lords debate last year (March 18th 2009) the Countess of Mar
quoted this from *Health Insurance News (* :



   *"Medical Insurance May Not Cover Chronic Fatigue",*

gives a condensed description of ME. It then states:*

sounds like a physical problem, doesn't it? However, the NICE guidelines
suggest that it is a psychiatric condition rather than a physical one.".*

goes on to say:*

   of the NICE guidelines private health insurance companies are within
   right to refuse cover if an applicant's policy does not include

cannot find any confirmation for the extraordinary suggestion that ME is a
psychiatric condition in the NICE guidelines. Will the Minister ensure that
this misinformation is rapidly withdrawn?"*

*The Countess of Mar then  added: *

*"I have been dealing with ME sufferers for 17 years and I have never encountered a group of patients who are so maligned. The last straw for them
is the requirement that they undertake a course of CBT and/or GET in order
to qualify for benefits and private insurance payments.*

Replying to the debate for the Government, Baroness Thornton said:

"The noble Countess, Lady Mar, made a very interesting and well informed
speech about CFS/ME, whose sufferers she has championed for many years. I
will be pleased to investigate the issues that she has raised about CFS/ME
treatment, recommended by NICE. It is important to restate the value which
the Government place on the independence of NICE's evaluation process, but I
undertake to follow up the disturbing point she made and see whether I can
provide her with clarification."

Well, we  can only  hope that Baroness Thornton, now Opposition
Spokesperson for Health and for Equalities Office ,  reads  Deadly Spin !
For, as Anne Landman explains, it  reveals all :

"*The book details disinformation campaigns that health insurers use to
cover up their misdeeds and manipulate public policy, reveals insurers'
public relations tricks, like commissioning bogus scientific studies, working through fake "grassroots" organizations, and disseminating rhetoric designed to scare the public. (Think phrases like "socialism" and "death panels," that Wendell reveals were created by health insurance companies.) Wendell tells about the methods
insurers use to "dump the sick," discusses the skyrocketing premiums and
high deductibles that are putting health care out of reach for working
people, and discloses the outrageous salaries that insurance companies
executives make while denying care to patients.* "

Greg Crowhurst
(The Lived Experience of Severe ME)

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