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Former CIGNA Executive Campaigns For Healthcare Reform
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A former health insurance executive now campaigning for healthcare reform says he’s confident a bill containing a public option will make its way to the President’s desk. Wendell Potter has also dismissed the concerns of Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman over the public option. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Wendell Potter used to be a senior executive for CIGNA, which has its healthcare headquarters in Bloomfield, and spent nearly two decades in the health insurance industry. In 2007 he left the industry and has since campaigned for healthcare reform as well as revealing some of the more controversial practices of health insurers.

He told WNPR’s Colin McEnroe that financial pressures have radically changed the industry.

"Every three months they have to report their earnings and how they performed, and if they don’t meet Wall Street’s expectations you’ll see their stock price start to decline, and they don’t want that. So they take a lot of actions to make sure that they’re either denying claims or shoving people off the insurance rolls just so that they can make sure that they meet those expectations."

Potter now works as a senior fellow on healthcare at the Center for Media and Democracy. He says he believes the final form of a congressional healthcare reform bill will include some kind of public plan option.

"It looks as if the legislation that goes to the President now might include it. It seemed there for a while that it was not likely. I always felt that it was. I knew that the health insurance industry was trying to write its obituary a long time ago, and was discouraging advocates of it from thinking it was even a possibility. They’ve got that much power and influence."

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman has said he will filibuster any bill that contains a public option because he believes it would be bad for the country’s economy, but Potter says he believes Lieberman is in the pocket of the insurance industry.

"We can help our economy recover if we can fix some of the things that is terribly wrong with our healthcare system. We can’t wait for things to get better, because unless we address some of these issues, we’re never going to have the kind of economic recovery that we need."

Wendell Potter addressed a townhall style meeting on healthcare reform at UConn’s West Hartford campus Monday.