Exposed: Health Insurance Industry's Documented Campaign to Discredit Michael Moore's Sicko

17 Jul 2009

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Renowned journalist, Bill Moyers of America's Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) interviews former health insurance industry executive, Wendell Potter and discovers that the industry devised a premeditated and intensive campaign to discredit filmmaker, Michael Moore's documentary about health care in America, Sicko.

According to Moyers, the anti-Moore strategy document set out clear lines of attack to radicalize the filmmaker in the eyes of politicians, specifically Democrats. The message that the insurance companies wanted Democratic insiders to hear was, "Embracing Moore is a one way ticket back to minority party status."

The industry's campaign against Moore succeeded and the documentary Sicko was blunted.

Moyers asked Potter what he thought of Moore's documentary. Potter concluded that the documentary contained a great truth, in addition to the following:

WENDELL POTTER: I thought that he hit the nail on the head with his movie. From the moment the health industry heard that Michael Moore was making this movie, it was really concerned. They were afraid that people would believe Michael Moore.

BILL MOYERS: We obtained a game plan that was adopted by the industry's trade association, AHIP, and it spells out the industry's strategy in bold letter. It says, "Highlight horror stories of government run systems."

What was that about?

WENDELL POTTER: The industry has always tried to make Americans think that government run systems are the worst thing that can possibly happen to them. If you even consider that you're heading down on the slippery slope towards socialism.

So they have used scare tactics for years and years and years to keep that from happening. If there were a broader programme like the Medicare Programme now, it could potentially reduce the profits of these big companies. So that is their biggest concern.

BILL MOYERS: And there was a political strategy. "Position Sicko as a threat to Democrats' larger agenda."

What does that mean?

WENDELL POTTER: That means that part of the effort to discredit this film was to use lobbyists and their own staff to go onto Capitol Hill and say, “Look, you don’t want to believe this movie. You don’t want to talk about it. You don’t want to endorse it. And if you do, we can make things tough for you.”


WENDELL POTTER: By running ads, commercials in your home district when you’re running for re-election, not contributing to your campaigns again, or contributing to your competitor.

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