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Up To Date

The Health Insurance Industry: Empty Promises And Propaganda

Wendell Potter, a former vice president of CIGNA, says that health insurers make promises they have no intention of keeping, flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and skew political debate with multibillion-dollar PR campaigns to mislead the press and public.

Wednesday on Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Potter about his book Deadly Spin, which takes readers behind the scenes to show how a huge chunk of health care spending bankrolls a propaganda campaign focused on protecting one thing: profits.

Wendell Potter speaks this evening at 6:30 at the Kansas City Library Central branch. Learn more about the event and RSVP here.

Wendell Potter is an author, media analyst and corporate watchdog. After a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, Wendell left his job as head of communications for one of the nation's largest health insurers and became a vocal critic of insurance company abuses.  In widely covered testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee in June 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. During his business career, Wendell held a variety of positions at Humana Inc. and CIGNA Corporation. When he left CIGNA in May 2008 he was serving as head of corporate communications and as the company's chief corporate spokesperson. Wendell, who is now a senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity and a senior fellow on health care at the Center for Media and Democracy, was a reporter before his career in public relations. A former Washington correspondent for Scripps-Howard newpapers, he covered Congress, the White House and Supreme Court and wrote a weekly political column.

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After growing up on the east coast and spending his first professional years in classical music, Stephen moved to Kansas City in 1995 expecting to leave after a few years. (Clearly that didn't happen.) More than two decades and three kids later, he doesn't regret his decision to stick around. Stephen began his career in public radio as a classical music host. As the founding producer of Up to Date with Steve Kraske, he received a number of local and national awards for his work on the program. Since 2014 he's overseen KCUR's broadcast operations. When Stephen isn't at KCUR's studios, he's probably adding more stamps to his passport with his KU professor wife and their three kids. His son almost made him cry during a drive through the Rockies when he said at age 8: "Dad, can we listen to public radio?" Sniff sniff.
Steve Kraske is the host of KCUR's Up To Date. Follow him on Twitter @stevekraske.