Wendell Potter

“As one former insurance executive testified before Congress, insurance companies are not only encouraged to find reasons to drop the seriously ill; they are rewarded for it. All of this is in service of meeting what this former executive called, ‘Wall Street’s relentless profit expectations.’” — President Barack Obama, Remarks to Joint Session of Congress, September 9, 2009

Following a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, Wendell left his position as head of communications for CIGNA, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, to help socially responsible organizations — including those advocating for meaningful health care reform — achieve their goals.

In widely covered testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee in June of 2009, Wendell disclosed how insurance companies, as part of their efforts to boost profits, have engaged in practices that have resulted in millions of Americans being forced into the ranks of the uninsured. Wendell also described how the insurance industry has developed and implemented strategic communications plans, based on deceptive public relations, advertising and lobbying efforts, to defeat reform initiatives.

Since then Wendell has testified before two House committees, briefed several members of Congress and their staffs, appeared with members of Congress at several press conferences, spoken at more than 100 public forums, and has been the subject of numerous articles in the U.S. and foreign media.

His new book is an expose of health insurers and a stark warning that corporate spin is distorting our democracy. Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans (Bloomsbury Press hardcover, November 2010) tells us why — and how — we must fight back.

Wendell is currently a senior analyst at the The Center for Public Integrity, a non-partisan nonprofit that produces original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern; the senior fellow on health care for the Center for Media and Democracy, an independent, non-partisan public interest organization; and speaks out on both the need for a fundamental overhaul of the American health care system and on the dangers to American democracy and society of the decline of the media as watchdog, which has contributed to the growing and increasingly unchecked influence of corporate PR. He also serves as a consumer liaison representative for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Dr. Phillip Caper

Philip Caper received his BA, MS and MD degrees at UCLA, and was trained in Internal Medicine on the Harvard Medical Unit at Boston City Hospital. He and has held professorships at Dartmouth Medical School and the University of Massachusetts Medical School (where he was also Vice-Chancellor for Health Affairs, Chief of the Medical Staff and Hospital Director), has been an adjunct lecturer on Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health, a Research Associate at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and an Associate in Health Policy and Management at the The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

From 1971 to 1976, he was a professional staff member on the United States Senate Labor and Human Resources Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Senator Edward Kennedy. Dr. Caper was a charter member of the nation’s top health care advisory panel, the National Council on Health Planning and Development (created by PL93-641) from 1977 to 1984, chairing the panel from 1980 to 1984. He was also founder and chairman of the Codman Group (1986-2001), a health care software and consulting company with an international reputation and clientele. Codman pioneered the use of PC-based statistical data to provide its clients with detailed information about the costs and quality of medical care used by defined populations. Clients included over 20 Blue-Cross/Blue Shield companies, and over a dozen state health departments, data agencies and Medicaid programs.

He is a founding member of the National Academy of Social Insurance. For the past 10 years, he has been a member of the Board of Directors of The Medical Foundation (now Health Resources in Action), a Boston-based health care organization whose mission is the promotion of public health and advancement of medical research. He currently serves on the Board of Maine AllCare, the PNHP chapter in Maine, a group advocating for a universal improved Medicare-for-All program for the state of Maine and is a member of the national board of Physicians For A National Health Program.

He has published numerous articles in professional journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, Business and Health, The American Journal of Public Health, The Journal of Public Health Policy and Health Affairs where he served on the Editorial Advisory Board from its founding to 2003. He has also written numerous letters to the editor and op-ed articles advocating for a publicly run universal health care program for Maine and the U.S., and is now a regular monthly columnist for the Bangor Daily News, Maine’s second largest paper, where he writes about health policy.