Wendell PotterPresident, Center for Health and Democracy at Publisher, HEALTH CARE un-coveredSpeaker
Wendell has more than four decades of experience as a communications professional, going back to his teenage years in Tennessee, where he served as a high school correspondent to his hometown paper, The Kingsport Times-News. His journalism career would later take him to Memphis, Nashville, and finally Washington, D.C., where he covered Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court for Scripps-Howard Newspapers.
Although best known for his career in corporate public relations, Wendell has also served as press secretary to a Tennessee gubernatorial candidate, head of advertising and PR for a large integrated health care system in East Tennessee, a partner in an Atlanta public relations firm, and a state and federal lobbyist.
His first corporate job was at Humana Inc., where he headed the company’s communications department in Louisville, Kentucky. From there he was recruited to Cigna Corporation, where he served in a variety of positions over nearly 15 years in the company’s Bloomfield, Connecticut, and Philadelphia offices. His responsibilities included leading the company’s corporate communications team and serving as chief corporate spokesperson. He also represented Cigna on several industry committees and task forces, including the strategic communications committee at the industry’s largest PR and lobbying group, America’s Health Insurance Plans.
After seeing firsthand how strategic PR and lobbying is used unfairly to tilt the scales toward corporate interests against the people’s interests, Wendell left his corporate career to advocate for meaningful health care reform. He made headlines in 2009 when he disclosed in Congressional testimony how insurance companies, as part of their efforts to boost profits, have contributed to spiraling health care costs and the growing number of Americans without health insurance. He also revealed how insurance companies use their customers’ premiums to wage multi-million dollar PR and lobbying campaigns to influence public opinion and public policy. Since then, he has spoken at more than 200 public forums and authored the award-winning book, Deadly Spin, An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. His latest offering is an eBook entitled, Obamacare: What’s in for Me? What Everyone Needs to Know about the Affordable Care Act.
Previously, Wendell was a columnist for The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that produces original investigative journalism. His articles and commentaries have appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Tampa Bay Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, The Nation, Huffington Post, CNN.com, NBC.com, Democracy Journal, and healthinsurance.org. Wendell has been the subject of numerous articles in the U.S. and foreign media, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, and has appeared frequently as a guest on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News Channel, MSNBC, PBS, and NPR.
In 2019, Wendell became the president of Business for Medicare for All and Medicare for All NOW!
Since then, he has spoken at more than 200 public forums and authored the award-winning New York Times bestseller, Deadly Spin, An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. He is also the author of Obamacare: What’s in for Me? What Everyone Needs to Know about the Affordable Care Act. His latest book, which he wrote with Nick Penniman, is Nation on the Take, How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It.
Wendell is currently the president of two non-profit organizations, Business Leaders for Health Care Transformation and the Center for Health & Democracy which convenes the Lower Out-of-Pockets NOW Coalition and publishes the newsletter HEALTH CARE un-covered.