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Discussion: 'Healthcare Finanacing and the Levers of Power'

Friday, 07 December, 2018

Wendell Potter, New York Times best-selling author, consumer advocate, and Founder of, will take part in a discussion, “Healthcare Finanacing and the Levers of Power,” at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, in Room 253, Busch Student.

SLU ethnographer and bioethicist, Harold Braswell, Ph.D., will moderate the talk. The discussion is open to the public and CME credit is available. A networking reception will follow.

Healthcare, which is often considered a basic human need, can also be an incredible source of profit. It seems befitting in a country where the roots of capitalism grow so deeply. Can problems of ethics arise, though, when healthcare and profit are so closely intertwined?

Potter 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. Potter 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, a state and federal lobbyist, head of communications for Humana Inc., and spent 15 years in various positions at Cigna Corporation.

After seeing firsthand how strategic PR and lobbying is used unfairly to tilt the scales toward corporate interests against the people’s interests, Potter left his corporate career to advocate for meaningful health care reform. He made headlines in 2009 when he disclosed in Congressional testimony how, as part of their efforts to boost profits, insurance companies have contributed to spiraling health care costs and the growing number of Americans without health insurance.

Potter is launching a new independent, reader-funded journalism project,, which examines how money in politics impacts millions of Americans.

Braswell is an assistant professor of health care ethics at Saint Louis University. His work focuses on the intersection of bioethics and disability studies, with a specialization on disability at the end of life. His first book, The Dying Family: US Hospice Care and the Crisis of Freedom at the End of Life, will be published this summer by Johns Hopkins University Press. He is currently writing a second book, titled Inhospitable: How Housing Discrimination Shapes the Way We Die.