President Recognizes Commerce Committee Whistleblower Hearing in Joint Address to Congress

Citing Chairman Rockefeller's Oversight and Investigations Hearing, President Obama Recounts Whistleblower Wendell Potter's Testimony

September 11, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In President Obama’s Joint Address to Congress this week, he spoke of the need for health care reform, citing a former insurance executive who testified to the tactics used by insurance companies to cut off consumers and increase profits. This reference was to Wendell Potter, a former insurance executive from CIGNA, who testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee at an Oversight and Investigations hearing on June 24, 2009.
From President Obama’s Joint Address to Congress (9/9/09):
“As one former insurance executive testified before Congress, insurance companies are not only encouraged to find reasons to drop the seriously ill, they are rewarded for it.  All of this is in service of meeting what this former executive called ‘Wall Street's relentless profit expectations.’”
From Wendell Potter’s written testimony to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Oversight and Investigations Team (6/24/09):
“My name is Wendell Potter and for 20 years I worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies.  And I saw how they confused their customers and dumped the sick all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.”
“But what we have today, Mr. Chairman, is Wall Street run health care that has proven itself an untrustworthy partner to its customers, to the doctors and hospitals who deliver care and to the state and federal governments that attempt to regulate it.
“To help meet Wall Street’s relentless profit expectations, insurers routinely dump policyholders who are less profitable or who get sick.
“The average family doesn’t understand how Wall Street’s dictates determine whether they will be offered coverage, whether they can keep it, and how much they’ll be charged for it. But, in fact, Wall Street plays a powerful role. The top priority of for-profit companies is to drive up the value of their stock.”
As Chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Senator Rockefeller created the Oversight and Investigations unit to actively address consumer protection issues, and has taken a leading role in bringing accountability and transparency to the health insurance industry.  Chairman Rockefeller continues to express his sincere appreciation and praise for Mr. Potter and his courage in coming forward and speaking publicly about the industry where he spent most of his career during this important juncture in the health care debate.