Former Health Exec Tells Inside Secrets Of Insurance Industry

12/15/10 Robert Lorei
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Welcome to Radioactivity. I’m Rob Lorei. In a moment we’ll talk with Wendell Potter, the former CIGNA public relations executive who has left the company and now come out as a critic of the tactics used by the country’s health insurance companies to undermine health reform in the US.

Earlier this week:

Opponents of the health care overhaul scored a first major legal victory on Monday when a federal judge in Virginia ruled that Congress had overstepped its constitutional authority by ordering Americans to buy health insurance or face a tax penalty.

The ruling, by U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, tosses out the mandatory insurance provision of the Affordable Care Act, while leaving the rest of the act in place. Hudson declined to halt implementation of the act. Still, his ruling threatened to bog down the costly and time-consuming roll-out of the law, which culminates in 2014 with state-based insurance marketplaces where consumers can buy subsidized coverage depending on income.

The Obama administration did not comment on whether it would appeal Hudson's ruling. If it does, because the ruling conflicts with two opposite decisions by lower court judges in Michigan and Virginia, the divided U.S. Supreme Court would likely have the final word, legal scholars said.

Hudson's ruling comes before a key hearing tomorrow in the 20-state lawsuit led by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. That hearing will take place in Pensacola. Florida, like Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, argues that Congress lacks the power to require Americans to buy health insurance. But the 20 states go a step further, accusing Congress of usurping states' budgets and thus their sovereignty by dramatically expanding who qualifies for Medicaid, a state-federal insurance safety net for the poor and disabled.

Our guest is Wendell Potter, author of the new book DEADLY SPIN: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out On How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care And Deceiving Americans (Bloomsbury).

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update

It may not make a difference in the long run, the issue seems destined for the Supreme Court in one form or another, but this judge effed up........The Virginia federal district court judge who ruled yesterday that the individual mandate in the health care bill is unconstitutional is catching a lot of flack -- and not just for having a financial interest in an anti-health care reform consulting firm....... Legal experts are attacking Judge Henry Hudson's decision on the merits, citing an elementary logical flaw at the heart of his opinion. And that has conservative scholars -- even ones sympathetic to the idea that the mandate is unconstitutional -- prepared to see Hudson's decision thrown out.......http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/12/amateur-hour-va-judge-makes-elementary-error-in-health-care-ruling.php