When Michael Moore's Sicko movie, which attacked the health insurance industry, came out, the trillion dollar health insurance industry assigned one man to delegitimize the movie's message-- Wendell Potter.
Potter was head of communications for CIGNA, one of the largest health care corporations. It was his job to be the hit-man, destroying the reputation of Sicko.
So, when the two men, Michael Moore and Wendell Potter faced each other for the first time on Saturday, it was an emotional, fascinating encounter.
First, at a fundraising reception for single payer health care advocacy organization, Health-Care Now, Moore opined that he'd rather have met and spoken with Potter in private, rather than in a public setting. Then, they both went to a special event, at a theater, celebrating the fifth anniversary of Sicko-- Still Sicko After All These Years.
Potter spoke before Michael Moore. He told how he flew to view the first showing of Sicko, then went back another time, taking his son to see it. Potter was THE person the insurance was using-- all the big insurance companies-- to marginalize and minimize the damage of the message of Sicko.
Then, a few things happened. Cigna turned down a liver transplant for a seventeen year old California girl whose doctor felt that the operation would save her life.
A huge public outcry eventually pressured Cigna into reversing its decision and allowing the operation, but it was too late. The girl died shortly after the decision was announced.
Potter also viewed a county fair type event where thousand sought free healthcare, in a town near where his parents lived, where he was raised.
He said that between the message of Michael Moore's movie, the death of the girl and seeing the thousands lined up for free health care, because they couldn't afford to pay for it, he made a decision. It seems like he had an epiphany. Shortly after, he testified before congress about the abuses and lies of the health insurance industry (and about a week later, was a goes on my radio show) with appearances on CNN, Bill Moyers, Bill Maher, BBC, MSNBC and more to follow. But he made it clear that Moore's movie had a big effect on him that played a major role in his quitting his job and basically, becoming a whistleblower.
Then Michael Moore spoke. He said that if someone had told him, he never would have believed that a high level corporate head from a major corporation would quit and change sides because of his movie.
it was a sweet moment, seeing them both on the stage.
Moore Invited Potter to get together for a meal. That will be an interesting conversation too.
Moore in Black tee shirt in middle and Potter on far right.