WENDELL POTTER: Yeah, this is the first time that the insurance industry has really seen great opportunity in healthcare reform, with an individual mandate, which would require all of us to buy insurance if we are not eligible for a public, government-run program, which, fortunately, many people are. We would have to buy it in the private market from insurance companies, many of whom—many of which are for-profit companies. We would not have the option of buying or getting insurance through a government-run program like the public option would create.
So, not only would our premium dollars go into this—into the private insurance industry, but a lot of tax dollars would. Most people who don’t have insurance can’t afford it, and they wouldn’t be able to afford it after healthcare reform is passed without the government subsidizing their premiums. So billions and billions of taxpayers’ dollars will flow right into the treasuries of these big for-profit insurance companies. So we will be essentially paying a tax that will help support these insurance companies. It will be an enormous bailout of the health insurance industry.
AMY GOODMAN: Robert Reich, former secretary under Clinton, wrote, “The White House made a Faustian bargain with Big Pharma and Big Insurance, essentially scuttling both of these profit-squeezing mechanisms in return for [these] industries’ agreement not to oppose healthcare legislation with platoons of lobbyists and millions of dollars [of] TV ads, and Pharma’s willingness to cut drug prices by some $80 billion over the next ten years.” He says, “The White House promised these industries they’d come out way ahead—getting tens of millions of new customers who’d be buying private health insurance policies and thereby paying [for] an almost endless supply of new drugs. Healthcare reform would be, in short, a bonanza.”
Is that why, for example, your companies, Wendell Potter, and the other insurance companies have not launched the kind of massive campaign that they did against the ’93 and ’94 Clinton healthcare reform?
WENDELL POTTER: That’s right. And they have worked very closely with the White House. Some of the executives I know have been to the White House multiple times from the insurance industry. So they’ve been cutting their own deals, undoubtedly, or making their own assurances to the White House.
But the thing that the White House must not be taking into consideration is that while they will say things publicly, that they’re working as good faith partners for the—with the President and with Congress, behind the scenes they’re doing all that they can to cut the heart out of legislation, including the public option, and to preserve what would benefit them. That’s the way they operate. That’s what’s going on here.