An insider-turned-critic’s view of health insurance, COVID-19, and the fate of the Affordable Care Act

A don’t miss event is coming up on Thursday evening from the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists and you can join us via this Zoom link.

Wendell Potter, a former journalist turned health industry spokesperson turned industry whistleblower, will share some of his insights in an East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists program on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Potter has strong ties to the region. He was born in the mountains of North Carolina, but grew up in upper East Tennessee and is a graduate of the University of Tennessee.

After a very successful career covering news as a reporter, he became a health insurance company spokesman for more than two decades. In a “crisis in conscience,” he left his executive position with Cigna Insurance in 2008 and became a “reformed insurance propagandist.”

Knoxville-based Remote Area Medical and a clinic it held deep in rural Appalachia in the Southwestern Virginia county of Wise played a key role in his transformation.

He has evolved into a leading critic of the health care and insurance system in the United States and an advocate of “Medicare for All,” writing books and opinion pieces, being quoted by journalists, and testifying before Congress.

He recently launched what he calls “a first-of-its-kind project to battle greedy corporations, lobbyists & politicians who fight to preserve our deadly health care system.”

It’s called the Center for Health & Democracy.

His session with the East Tennessee and University of Tennessee student SPJ chapters comes just weeks before the Supreme Court is to hear oral arguments in a challenge to overturn the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare.”

It also comes as the Senate moves to confirm the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, a conservative jurist who has written critically of the court’s previous decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.

“There could be great harm to many millions of Americans if the law is declared entirely unconstitutional,” Potter was recently quoted as saying in an article by The American Independent.

He made news mid-summer during the pandemic when he tweeted: “Amid America’s #COVID19 disaster, I must come clean about a lie I spread as a health insurance exec: We spent big $$ to push the idea that Canada’s single-payer system was awful & the U.S. system much better. It was a lie & the nations’ COVID responses prove it.”

The pandemic, the nomination to the Supreme Court of Barrett, and the Affordable Care Act challenge before the high court have focused attention even more intensely on the debate over health care in America.

Join us Thursday to get a unique insider’s view of the debate.