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Jul. 24 2009 - 10:18 am | 8 views | 1 recommendation | 26 comments

Healthcare exec turned whistleblower thinks America needs universal coverage

Big crowd at healthcare rally

Healthcare Rally (Image by Grant Neufeld via Flickr)

Update: The audio of my interview with Wendell Potter can be heard on Citizen Radio over here.

To be a proponent of universal healthcare right now is only marginally more difficult than, say, being a New Jersey politician. Optimistic political newbies of the “Progressive” persuasion entered the healthcare debate with dreams of nationwide, single-payer healthcare. That was quickly downgraded by Hope’s anathema, “pragmatism,” to a public option, which was traded for lukewarm feelings about some kind of public-private hybrid model (with mandates).

Then, the public-private option was taken hostage by six moderate Senators, including ancillary Republicans, the “Blue Dog” Senators, who raised at least $1 million from the health and insurance sectors combined over the course of their respective careers. Meanwhile, President Obama’s August deadline looms in the distance. Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed concern on Thursday that the Senate might not be able to provide for Americans’ healthcare needs by the target date because the Senators have their own needs, namely the need to go on vacation where they will enjoy their government-provided universal healthcare coverage.

I interviewed Wendell Potter, the former chief PR person for CIGNA, one of the nation’s largest insurers, about the kind of influence the healthcare industry wields over members of Congress, and the need for healthcare reform in America. While serving CIGNA, Potter was part of a group charged with discrediting Michael Moore’s film, Sicko, which he now calls an “honest film.” He is now a whistleblower for Big Health, an industry that he blames for leaving millions of Americans uninsured, underinsured, and misinformed.

Potter’s change of heart began while he was visiting family in upper-east Tennessee, near the border of Virginia. It was there that Potter picked up a local newspaper and saw that a health fair was being held in Wise, Virginia by a group called Remote Area Medical (RAM). Curious, Potter got into his car and drove to Wise. He had no idea what to expect, but assumed there would be doctors and nurses conducting general health-screenings. Nothing could have braced Potter for what he saw when he reached the Wise County fairgrounds.

It was almost like being hit by lightening to see what I saw. There were long, long lines, people standing in line, sitting in a long line – in the rain – waiting to get free care that was being provided by volunteer doctors and nurses.

Today is RAM’s tenth annual expedition in Wise, Virginia, and things have gotten worse. The volunteers are expecting 20 percent more attendees than last year, and citizens were already setting up camp outside the fairgrounds as early as Tuesday. (Click here to read my interview with RAM founder, Stan Brock.) Things are worse now, but they were still very bad back when Potter first attended a RAM expedition where he stood in the rain and watched poor people queue in animal stalls for their chance to see doctors. Something, Potter decided, was wrong.

He left CIGNA shortly after his trip to Wise, Virginia. In June, Senator Jay Rockefeller invited Potter to testify about the underhanded practices of the private healthcare industry before the Senate Commerce Committee (his full testimony can be viewed here). 

But this all occurred before President Obama revealed his public-private plan. I wanted to know what a former healthcare insider thought of Obama’s option, and what Potter thought of the dismissal of a universal healthcare plan. “All of us deserve access to care, so I think universal health care should be this country’s goal just like other developed countries,” says Potter, though he doesn’t see the solution coming from the federal government. Though he fully supports a public option, Potter believes every man, woman, and child should have access to healthcare, and the only way to make that happen is with universal healthcare. However, Potter is optimistic that America might follow the Canada model for coverage.

In Canada, it began at the provincial level. I think it could possibly happen in this country at the state level. There have been a number of states that have looked at implementing a single-payer system, including California. In fact, California lawmakers have twice voted for a single-payer system that Governor Schwarzenegger has vetoed. And the state of Pennsylvania, where I live, is seriously considering a single-payer option, and it has a lot of Republican support. A lot of Republicans have signed on as sponsors. So it’s something that could develop at the state level, and more than likely will be the only way it can happen in the United States.

Canadian care is delivered privately by doctors and hospitals just like we have it delivered here in America. A single-payer system in America would behave the same way. Potter emphasizes, “you would have publicly funded, privately delivered care.” Not a government bureaucrat standing between a doctor and patient anywhere.

The main obstacle standing between Americans and universal healthcare is, of course, the private healthcare industry. The reason the “universal” option disappeared almost immediately from the conversation on the Hill is because Big Health flexed its muscle. Groups like “the health insurance industry, and like big PHRMA, and the pharmaceutical industry, and even the American Medical Association,” Potter says are “looking out for the best interest of their membership. In other words, the health insurance trade group is looking out for the best interest of insurance companies. They’re, ultimately, not looking out for the best interest of the individual residents and citizens of the United States.”

The lesson was made painfully clear this week when six Senators, who are famous for sucking the teat of the private healthcare industry, successfully delayed the healthcare debate. Sadly, that’s business as usual, Potter admits. 

Here’s how that works: The industry can pretty much rely on almost every Republican member of Congress. It seems, in my view, that they all are pretty much– if not “in-the-pocket” – certainly ideological allies of the insurance industry. So the way it’s working is that the industry knows that they’ve got those votes, so what they’re doing is devoting their resources right now to the Conservative Democrats, the so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats, any moderates who might be left in Congress – they’re targeting them and trying to persuade them to see the world from their point of view.

Persuading key conservative Democrats to “see the world from their point of view” can include extremely generous campaign contributions. When the healthcare industry isn’t busily buying the influence of Congress representatives, they engage in heavy public disinformation campaigns and dump sick people from their rolls in order to make more money.

Potter recently wrote an article titled “Health Care Industry Adopts Big Tobacco’s PR Tactics” in which he details how the healthcare industry uses the same public relations firm that Big Tobacco has used over the years. “One of the favorite tactics of both the insurance industry and the tobacco industry is to set up front groups they fund, but that funding is not known to the public, to communicate the industry’s points of view through these front groups,” he says. These groups always have very altruistic names like the “Health Benefits Coalition,” and their mission is to scare people away from additional government involvement in the healthcare system, say in the form of universal coverage or a public option.

Another Big Health-Big Tobacco strategy is to set up third-party advocates. “They’ll look for individuals, and other groups that might have some connection either through business or ideology with the health insurance industry, and they’ll feed those groups and those individuals with talking points to make sure that they have a lot of people and a lot of organizations expressing their points of view,” says Potter.

This explains why the same handful of anti-public option buzzwords seemed to ubiquitously saturate the media: “Slippery slope toward Socialism.” “Government bureaucrat between you and your doctor.” “Rationing.” These are not grassroots words adopted by citizens who fear universal healthcare. These are PR-molded buzzwords that are disseminated to satellite groups whose sole purpose is to kill a public option.

Recently, it was reported that President Obama has hosted at least 27 meetings with some of the most influential private health-industry executives in the country including representatives from the American Hospital Association, PHARMA, the AMA, UnitedHealth, Kaiser Foundation, Merck, HealthNet, and Pfizer. That kind of access is normal for Big Health, Potter stresses, which helps to illustrate the kind of daunting force Americans are battling in their fight to get affordable healthcare. “The industry is so rich, so resourceful, so powerful…They have hired lobbyists, who used to be members of the Congress, or the Senate, or staff members on Capitol Hill, they have tremendous access, and they have made contributions to members of Congress over many years, so they’ve got a cumulative records of making contributions – essentially buying influence on Capitol Hill. It’s enormous,” Potter says. Max Baucus is a perfect example of this. Famous for accepting vast donations from Big Health, Baucus also has former staff members who now work in the health insurance industry as lobbyists. Surely, one perk of being a former staffer to Max Baucus is that they now have the ear of their old boss when Big Health needs something from Congress.

The problem can’t fix itself when Big Health remains a beast without compassion, concerned only with its bottom line. Things are so dire now that the healthcare companies have resorted to “dumping the sick,” and screwing small businesses. If you buy your insurance, meaning an employer doesn’t provide the insurance for you, the industry refers to that as purchasing insurance from the “individual market.” When the insurance company starts to see “individual market” claims coming in, they go through them and look for any kind of “preexisting condition” that could possibly disqualify you, so they don’t have to pay the claim. A preexisting condition can literally mean anything: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or even acne, Potter tells me.

This kind of “purging” of the sick has gotten so widespread that many small businesses can no longer afford to provide insurance for their employees. “In 1993, 61 percent of small businesses were offering coverage to their employees. By 2008, it had dropped down to 38 percent,” he says.

Even the temporarily healthy are paying a hefty price for their coverage. A worrying trend that Potter observed while working at CIGNA was the move toward “consumer-driven plans,” a euphemistic term for shifting the financial burden from insurance company to consumer. These plans feature high deductibles and are really just another way for the insurance companies to make money from the suffering of their consumers.

Potter is unequivocal about who is to blame for the disinformation and governmental bribery behind the killing of universal coverage and the slow suffocation of the public option: “I saw that the insurance companies were directly contributing through their behavior, through their practices, to the growing number of the uninsured, and also to the growing number of people who are underinsured.”

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get government representatives to care in the same way, particularly when their hands are shoved in the Big Health cookie jar. The universal option is dead in the water. The public option may be next, at least if Big Health has any say in the matter.

Wendell Potter’s blog can be read here.


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  1. collapse expand

    The solution to this problem, like all problems we face, requires bold new ideas and strong leadership to educate and excite the people. I see none of this in Washington. The people are ignored – even when large numbers support a position or policy – and our “leaders” do the least they can get away with while speaking the language of “change” and “progress”. I’d love to suggest that the people hit the streets, but that would require them to get off their collective asses – something they seem entirely unwilling to do. And people wonder why I’m such a pessimist.

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      Potter suggested this, as well. I didn’t have room to include it in the article. He suggested citizens call their representatives, write them letters, email them, etc. Otherwise, the only “point of view” they hear is Big Health’s perspective.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        I’m not even sure that works anymore. When we all communicated by landlines and letters (including hand written petitions), I don’t think a politician could easily ignore mass communications from constituents. Those communications actually took some effort, and thus had a certain weight behind them.

        In the days of instant communication, I think politicians are more likely to see a great amount of emails, tweets, and calls as just a knee-jerk reaction of the masses. Sort of the same way they seem to see protest marches these days: maybe great in size, but all neat, clean, and easily ignored.

        I think the only things that would get their attention are not-so-nice marches, or a mass exodus of votes leaving for other Parties. Short of such drastic measures, we are just plain screwed.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    Good piece Allison, and we really can’t stress just how important it is for voters to be making their voices heard. Get in touch with your members of Congress, donate to a group that supports your views on this issue. The stakes are too big to sit back and do nothing.

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    Lots of advocacy groups are trying to set up local meetings with congress members during the August recess. I’m organizing one to meet with Charlie Rangel on behalf of HRC for equality issues, I know some of the health care advocacy groups will be doing the same thing. This is a great way for people to get involved and make a real difference.

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    I agree that any engagement is better than none at all. And I do contact Reps and donate to groups. It’s just that sometimes – times like these – I think an Uncle of mine may have been right when he said “There’s only two ways to change this world: with a dollar or with a gun”. Having little of the former, and neither owning nor being inclined to use the latter, can be quite discouraging.

    • collapse expand

      That’s why mass protest is important. The will of the people has to be undeniable. Carl Dix recently commented on the old expression “speak truth to power,” by adding, “power doesn’t care what truth you bring to it. They’re still going to go ahead with what’s in their interests.” The only thing power understands is more power, and the only way the people are powerful is when they’re truly “the people,” and not isolated, scared individuals clamoring away on their keyboards.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        Agreed. Maybe things just aren’t bad enough yet for people to hit the streets en masse. One can always hope, or so they tell me.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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        *raised clench fist*


        In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Allison- One of the key problems we run into on the issue of Universal healthcare is that the public is conflicted. If you look at polls, you will find that Americans overwhelmingly like the idea of universal healthcare…. until you ask them if they are willing to pay higher taxes to support it.

        In a recent survey, it was shown that Americans favor guaranteed healthcare for all by a 62%-38% margin. But when you ask them if they are willing to pay higher taxes to accomplish this, the number came out at 47%-47%.

        For too many American, universal health care means the government will pay for it so, hey, what could be bad? But government can’t pay for it unless we are all willing to pony up.

        There is also a need to a better understand that some of the universal plans around the world work better than others. While I would not advocate Canada’s plan for the U.S., I think the French and Australian systems could work very nicely. While I’d be pleased to discuss the reasons for this, it is just too much to put into a post. You can assume, however, that the French and the Australians pay more for a better program.

        What I’d love to see is supporters of universal care become more knowledgeable about the different options available in universal care and, more importantly, their willingness to accept the financial obligation that comes with such a program. If supporters will do this, I think they can greatly expand the influence they have on the debate.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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          I wonder how the question was phrased in the polls where 47% of Americans said they wouldn’t be willing to pay higher taxes. If the question was phrased: “Would you pay higher taxes for a new healthcare program?” I can see more people saying “no,” than if the question was phrased, “Would you pay higher taxes for every man, woman, and child to have full healthcare coverage?”

          The plan in the House would impose $544 billion in new taxes over the next decade on just 1.2 percent of households (joint filers making more than $350,000 a year.) I wonder how the percentage would change if the question was “Would you support a healthcare plan that taxes 1.2% of the population?”

          The time for healthcare reform is now. Things have reached a critical level in this country. The number of people who are uninsured in America is equal to the population of Canada. The number of underinsured and uninsured in America is equal to the entire population of the United Kingdom. That’s absolutely shameful.

          There are many myths circulating about the Canadian healthcare system (curiously, I haven’t read any negative reviews from Canadians :) ). What, specifically, do you not like about their system? Considering Wendell Potter was himself a healthcare executive, and knows the pros and cons of the system, I hold his approval of the Canadian system in very high regard.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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            You’re preaching to the choir on the subject of needing health care reform now. However, we need to keep the options straight. The surtax on the wealthy is a way to go. But it currently is designed to support the costs of medicare and the expansion of the numbers who would receive coverage via a government subsidy (necessary in a mandated situation for those who cannot afford to buy their insurance.) This is quite a bit different than a universal system.

            It would take a lot more than simply taxing the wealthy to support a single-payer system. In England, it runs at about 11-12% of every individual’s income. In France it is 14%.. This is not to say that we shouldn’t move in that direction, it is simply to say that were we to do so, there would have to be an across the board tax increase as you can’t expect the wealthy to pick up the tab for the entire health care system for everyone in the nation. That would be a bit much and would make the wealthy-not so wealthy.

            As for the Canadian system, as i noted it is a long answer. If you’d like, I can send you the chapters in my book that compare the health system in the industrialized nations, certainly including Canada. By way of example, available technology in Canada runs well behind the international averages with useful diagnostic machines like CT’s in very short supply. The waiting problem in Canada can be a very real problem – not a rumor. It was for this reason the Quebec Supreme Court has ruled that patients should not be barred from seeking and receiving private non-gov’t treatment. Their rationale was that if the government can’t deliver on their promise of health care delivered in a reasonable time period, people should be free to pursue it elsewhere. This ruling has begun to embolden some to open up private clinics not dependent on government payment, even though it remains illegal outside of Quebec.

            None of this is to say that we do a better job in the U.S.A. (I don’t see this as a competition), but I think that there are examples of socialized health systems out there that are working better. Another big issue is the prohibition in Canada against paying for things yourself. In that country, if a drug is not available you are not permitted, legally, to buy it yourself, go to the United States for treatment, etc. The theory is that all Canadians should have equal access to health care and if wealthier people are permitted to use their money to get treatments outside the national system, then it is unfair. Thus, a Canadian who is discovered to be receiving treatment in the US will be tossed out of the government system and denied further coverage.

            The UK has something similar but not nearly as draconian. The French are cool about this. In Australia, every citizen is entitled to public care as a right- but the government gives financial incentives to rich and poor alike to move to the private system. They prefer the private system but acknowledge that the government has an obligation to make health care available to all. I like the Australian system.

            if you would like to read up on some of these comparisons, I’d be happy to send the relevant chapters along to you.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Here’s the bottom line about engagement, if people don’t get involved you can count on nothing getting fixed. And it’s not just on the big national issues. We recently prevented a new apartment building being built around the corner because it was just to big for the lot and the character of this neighborhood. We got about 200 people to show up at the community board meeting, by the end of the evening the developer’s request for a zoning variance was denied. If we hadn’t shown up that they’d be breaking ground by now.

  6. collapse expand
    deleted account

    Probably one of the biggest obstacles to really fixing our healthcare system is that the debates about what to do are more ideological than they are practical. We end up with poorly informed lawmakers who don’t really understand the full scope of the system they’re trying to fix, exchanging polemics rather than actually making the bold changes they promise. In the end, we get stopgap measures, higher costs (be it via higher taxes or higher premiums) and add another layer of complexity and red tape onto a system already needlessly complex and choked in bureaucracy.

    Until we can weigh all the options with all the boring facts on the table, we’re going to be talking about a healthcare crisis while doing nothing of note about it.

  7. collapse expand

    Allison- Felt like I should mention one additional thing – while I have much respect for Mr.Potter’s conversion away from the “dark side”, in all that I have read about him during the time surrounding his testimony, I’ve seen nothing that would reveal that he is particularly knowledgeable about the Canadian…or any other foreign health care system. I’m not sure doing PR for Aetna would put him in a position to have studied comparative systems. So, while no offense whatsoever is intended, you might want to spend some time digging a little deeper into the systems in the other industrialized nations.
    As for not encountering Canadians who have complained about their health care, there is very good research revealing that most Canadians are indeed happy with their system. These are the people who are rarely ill or, if they do get ill, the nature is along the lines of non-life threatening disease. Unfortunately, when it comes to life-threatening disease, the story is a bit different. The best way to discover this is to check in with the American hospitals along the long, Canadian-American border. I think you will be surprised by what you find. You could start with the Mayo Clinic to see how many of their patients are Canadian. And keep in mind that when they go to Mayo, if caught, they will forfeit their right to participate in the Canadian government care system.

  8. collapse expand

    Rick, have you ever spoken to any Canadians directly about these issues? With all due respect to your book and your expertise, I’ve lived this system very personally over the past 15 years. In Ontario, my stepmother had, and died of, lung cancer; in B.C., my mother has had a mastectomy (and is fine), had a brain tumor removed (and is fine). My father, in Ontario, has had prostate surgery and kidney surgery (and is fine.)

    Canadians do “jump the queue” (i.e. go to the head of the line) by paying privately for some treatments if they don’t want to wait. It isn’t a universal option but my mother paid out of pocket for cataract surgery to get it faster than waiting months and my Dad traveled from Toronto to Montreal for a prostate treatment he could not get in Toronto. It was paid for.

    For every Canadian fed up with long wait times — and they do exist but are often also regionally problematic — there are millions deeply grateful they don’t live in the U.S. in daily fear of medical bankruptcy.

    When my stepmother died, she did so in her Toronto bed at home with medical hospice care, fully paid for. She had a dignity and comfort some American can only dream of.

    • collapse expand

      Thanks for writing, Caitlin. The polls I’ve seen seem to consistently show two things: Canadians are very satisfied with their healthcare and Americans are unsatisfied with the US system. I’m sure the Canadians system could use some tweaking (budget cuts seem to have damaged certain provinces,) but by and large, Canada has a much better system than the US.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  9. collapse expand

    These government cuts add important context. I left Canada, where I had been living in Montreal, in 1988. The care I got in Montreal seemed noticeably lousier even then (despite some excellent docs and hospitals, I meant systemically) than I’d received in Ontario — while paying a lot less tax in that province.

    Canada has wide disparities in income level and unemployment, just as the U.S. does. So someone living in a hamlet in northern Ontario (where I traveled for the Globe and Mail to report on healthcare in rural/isolated areas) will not — just as someone in a hamlet in Idaho — get the fastest, sexiest, highest-tech toys or same-day access to specialists. Because….they aren’t there! It is, to be as polite as possible, disingenuous to keep insisting that Canadian healthcare is de facto lousy because it is government-run not dictated to by profit-obsessed HMOs.

    If you live in Newfoundland (google the cancer series that ran in the Globe and Mail on this subject) your quality of care can be shockingly, life-shorteningly lousy. It’s a physically remote place with a tiny population, almost no corporate tax base and the highest rates of unemployment in the country. Government run/financed health care is not McDonalds! You don’t get the same slab of “beef” exactly the same way in downtown Victoria, BC as you do in an outpost in northern Labrador.

    I wish this “debate” had more truly informed participants. Not people who consistently trash the Canadian system without once having used it themselves.

  10. collapse expand

    it would be nice to believe that just marching or petitioning or protesting would do much… the problem is.. government in cases such as pandemic emergencies has already made it so if you refuse thier experimental drugs or therapies in you will be considered a felon . Having a government run anything will probably be a disaster for the individual. I dont’ give a crap about this so called health care.. most people will never be healthy from all the pharmecuticals they are taking and pissing into the water table and ocean, the crappy fast food, and the gmos… we need health no more disease producing doctors, biotech and pharma

  11. collapse expand

    Rick – Believe me, I’m very aware the currently proposals in Congress aren’t universal. That’s my beef with them. :)

    Politicians are framing the issue of healthcare very myopically. Raising taxes has become such a stigmatized strategy that they’re forgetting to mention to the American people that a 11-12% tax rate will still save them money in the long run when they eventually do need healthcare. It’s not as though the citizens of France are roaming the streets in starving packs because that 14% tax rate drained their life savings. Our current system is already expensive and wasteful. According to Physicians For a National Health Program, about 59% of the U.S. health care system is already publicly financed with federal and state taxes, property taxes, and tax subsidies – a universal health care system would merely replace private/employer spending with taxes. Total spending would go down for individuals and employers. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard Obama, or any Democrats, hammering that message home.

    As for the “rationing” rumors circulating about Canada, as you mentioned yourself, Canadians seem pretty happy with their system. Additionally, we already have a class-based form of rationing in the United States. Private insurance companies constantly pick and choose who is worthy of healthcare, which is the cruelest kind of rationing. We also have self-rationing, where Americans are having to pick and choose what medications they can afford to purchase.

    Still, I agree with your point that it might take some mixing and matching to get the “balance” of America’s healthcare system tailored for our own economy. I don’t think Potter was saying we should identically mimic Canada’s healthcare system. Rather, he was saying reform will probably happen Canadian-style, meaning coverage reform starting at a provincial level and expanding outward. I agree with that assessment, since the federal government clearly isn’t interested in universal coverage.

    I’d love to read your chapters! Sounds like interesting stuff. Feel free to email them to me: allisonkilkenny@gmail.com

  12. collapse expand

    Well, what I actually said is that most Canadians are happy with their healtcare until they ill with a life threatening disease. Then, not so much.
    I’ll email the pages to you.

  13. collapse expand

    I’m interested in seeing your sources. While I’ve seen many polls with high support from Canadians for their healthcare system, I’ve never seen a poll partitioned into those suffering from life-threatening diseases and “healthy” Canadians.

    As I was typing a response to you, I got an email from a Canadian that wished to throw his two cents into the conversation (and wasn’t able to log in to post, for some reason.) By no means do I think this is an authoritative review of the Canadian system, but I thought maybe we should permit a Canadian to offer some input:

    Hi. I read your blog sometimes, and also listen to Citizen Radio sometimes. I see the topic of the Canadian health care sytem came up, and seeing as I am Canadian, I thought I might have enough clout to make one important point.

    I’ve heard alot of things about the canadian system from Americans, and from american media in the past little bit, for obvious reasons, and while some of it is crazy, made-up, exaggerated, fearmongering crap, other parts of it are partly sorta-kinda true.

    Emergency room waits are ridiculous in some parts of the country(though I should point out, the country isn’t exactly even, and some parts are doing much better than others), there is a doctor(personal physician/family doctor, not specialists) shortage in some regions of the country. Waiting times for some procedures can happen, but frankly for most procedures the waiting time is reasonable, or almost none, and if something life-threatening is going on, you’re basically moved to the front of the line.

    But anyway, the more important point I’d like to make is this: It didn’t really used to be this way. The system started declining around the early 90’s. This was about the time that major cuts to health funding started being enacted by right-wing governments, federally and provincially(both blatantly right-wing ones, and ones that talked ‘left’ and then acted right-wing anyway)

    Public systems, and social services have to be funded properly to work.


    I thought the ’90s reform was an interesting point. Do you cover that in your book?

  14. collapse expand

    Rick I’m eager to see you explain with all the “faults” you claim exist in the Canadian system why they have both better life expectancy and infant mortality rates?

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    About Me

    I co-host Citizen Radio, the alternative political radio show. I am a contributing reporter to Huffington Post, Alternet.org, and The Nation.

    My essay "Youth Surviving Subprime" appears in The Nation's new book, Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover beside esssays by Ralph Nader, Joseph Stiglitz, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Naomi Klein, who I'm told are all important people.

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