Michael Moore’s Controversial Look at Health Care in America

Sicko, Michael Moore’s new film on health care, has been shown at Cannes this week. From initial reports, it sounds like there will aspects of the film which please and displease most viewers. The attacks on heavy handed attempts to control health care decisions by HMO’s will find agreement among many liberals, as well as conservatives who may be unaware of the Republican push for establishing such a system. Moore’s love of the Canadian system will be opposed by conservatives, as well as many liberals.

The most controversial aspect of the movie, which is turning into a tremendous publicity stunt, has been going to Cuba. Moore’s original idea was to take the 9/11 workers to Guantanamo. where “US authorities claimed top medical services had been provided to the inmates.” Moore expected viewers to react by saying, “You are telling me that al-Qaeda are receiving better healthcare than those who suffered and died on 9/11.” When it turned out to be too difficult to get to Guantanamo, Moore went to Cuba instead, leading to investigation by the U.S. government.

Conservatives generally try to shout out any plans to make health care more affordable to businesses and individuals as “socialized medicine.” They are bound to try to blur the distinctions between Moore’s more radical opinions and those of most Democrats. As I previously discussed, none of the Democrats running for President actually support socialized medicine, but Dennis Kucinich comes by far the closest. Even Kucinich doesn’t go far enough for Moore, as he discussed in this interview in Time Magazine:

TIME: Of the declared presidential candidates, down to the Dennis Kucinich level, say, who do you think has the best health-care plan? Including Kucinich? We could include him.

Michael Moore: Then Kucinich, but he doesn’t go far enough. He supports what he’s calling a single-payer nonprofit plan, but from my read, it would still allow [private] entities to control things, as opposed to the government. What’s wrong with the government? The right wing and the G.O.P. have done a wonderful job brainwashing people that government doesn’t work, and then, as Al Franken says, they get elected and proceed to prove the point. [Laughs.]

What we really need is a system where neither big business or the government are making health care decisions. From what I have heard about the movie so far, it may be valuable in bringing more publicity to the failings in our health care system. There remains plenty of room for controversy over the best solutions, with virtually no Republicans, and even a minority of Democrats, likely to agree with Moore on this topic.

Update: One sign that this topic transcends much of the usual left vs. right divide comes from a review at Fox News which calls Sicko a “brilliant and uplifting new documentary” in which Moore shows “a new maturity.”

Update II: The official movie trailer.

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9 Comments

  1. 1
    janet says:

    I find it interesting and frustrating that when people like Michael Moore or Rosie O’Donnell get a little too close to the truth, the nasty right wingers really get nasty. I always thought America was a place to have debate and throw around different ideas and to be creative about solutions and to point out where our government may be on the wrong track. Yet when Michael and Rosie do this, they get labeled as traitors and oh, yes, fat.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Janet,

    The right wing’s difficulty in considering any other viewpoints can be seen in the trackback above your comment. The site linking here criticizes “hopelessly naïve ‘progressives’ who actually think he has something useful to contribute to the health care debate.”

    Did they actually read my post where I reject Moore’s proposed solutions? Are Moore’s facts critical of HMO’s and the number of uninsured rendered invalid (even if factually correct) because he is on the far left?

    We best arrive at sound conclusions by considering different viewpoints, including left versus right and even moderate versus radical. The right wing’s inability to consider anything beyond their own limited viewpoint is one reason they have become incapable of governing, and many of them are incapable of commenting on matters of substance in a rational manner.

    In a way, Michael Moore’s weight is relevant to the health care debate, although not in the way used by the right. Obesity does greatly add to our health care costs.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Another sign that the Health Care BS blog is the one spreading the BS: As I added in the update, even Fox News has given the documentary a good review.

  4. 4
    Jack Shultz says:

    As a Canadian, I can tell you that, for the most part, most Canadians are proud of our health care system. It’s not perfect, but it includes all Canadians, and its essential feature is that it is not for profit.
    For private medicine, maximizing quality health care and maximizing profits represent a conflicting set of goals, and we all know what corporate priorities are all about, even in just critical fields as health care.

    And our system is also more efficient than yours on a per capita basis. Check it out. Forget your idealogies. Consider results and best practices around the world. Try and learn something.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    Seeing the trackbacks and other blog comments, it is interesting to see how many conservative bloggers bash the movie unseen because of their preconceptions. Sicko has received favorable reveiws from The Wall Street Journal and Fox News, among others. However, to some conservative bloggers, anything with Michael Moore’s name on it must be worthless.

  6. 6
    Sophia says:

    One, I don’t want the government in charge of my health. One size fits all fits nobody. Second, why would there be a reason to create new useful drugs if there isn’t a profit? Incentives + Independence = Success. We need a profit to motivate us. Which is why America has the high tech and great medicines we do! And which is also why the government has only provided, what was it, less than .04% of all the drugs on the market? Why is that? There isn’t an incentive for them to create them! Three, I believe in small or no government when it comes to my business. I don’t believe in big government. Call me conservative, republican, libertarian, that’s me, amen. Four, freedom. I want to choose to doctors I want. I want to buy the medical drugs I want. Five, waiting lists- ridiculous. So I have a headache. I can go to the doctor for free. Great news- except I have to wait six months!

    Get government out. Let the market rule. Keep our freedoms. Don’t go socialist. Don’t go big government.
    Keep it simple. FREEDOM.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    Sophia,

    Your objections would apply to Michael Moore’s ideas on a government run health care system, but they do not apply to more sensible measures to assist those who are unable to afford health care.

    Simplistic slogans against socialism (which are also incorrect as most proposals are for non-government run health care system) ignore the fact that there are over 70 million Americans who are uninsured or under-insured. Medical expenses represent the largest cause of bankruptcy–even among the insured

  8. 8
    marie says:

    Moore is an idiot who doesn’t know what he is talking about. The Canadian health care system is awful. People die before getting the treatment they need. They have to go out of town, and even to the United States, to get treatment in some cases depending on what province they live in. Not to mention, what particular province is he speaking of? Different provinces have better access to health care than others. We now live in the United States and wouldn’t go back to Canada to live for anything. We were from the Windsor, Ontario area and not only is it depressed for jobs there weren’t enough doctors for the people. And does Moore talk about the earnings limit on doctors in Canada. At least in Ontario they are limited to $100,000, when I lived there, and once they reach that they work for free. That is why doctors were fleeing the country and going to the United States to work. He justs likes to bitch to bitch, he’s getting attention from people who don’t know better and he’s riding it out. Everyone should be thankful for our health care in the United States. No one can be turned away for emergency health care at any hospital that accepts medicare or medicaid. There are many programs out there for people if the ask for help.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    “No one can be turned away for emergency health care at any hospital that accepts medicare or medicaid. There are many programs out there for people if the ask for help.”

    That’s quite misleading. People are not turned away for emergency care but they also have to pay the bills, which are quite expensive in an ER. Plus emergency care is no substitute for routine medical care.

    There are no programs available for many people. We have over 70 million people who are uninsured or underinsured.

    Faults in the Canadian system do not alter the fact that we have serious problems here. Moore does overlook the problems elsewhere but he is correct about the problems here. I also note that, even in the comments here, there is considerable disagreement about the quality of the Canadian system.

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