Experts: Documentary To Impact Health Care Debate
Some elected officials and policy experts last week said that "Sicko," the new documentary on the health care industry directed by Michael Moore, likely will have a "broad political impact," the New York Times reports.
In the film, which opens nationwide on June 29, Moore calls for a single-payer health care system in the U.S. Both supporters and opponents of Moore predict that the film will "crystallize the frustration that is a pre-existing condition for so many health care consumers," according to the Times.
California Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D), who met with Moore last week, said, "The conclusion you come to after watching that documentary is that you have a health care system on the verge of collapse. It's either going to fall of its own weight, or people are going to rise up against it."
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) last week invited Moore to a congressional hearing to raise support for his bill to establish a single-payer health care system. Meanwhile, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) "swore off contributions from the pharmaceutical industry" after he attended a screening of the film, the Times reports.
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Senior Vice President Ken Johnson said the film will "energize activists" but added, "I don't think it's going to change anybody's party affiliation." Johnson added that the health care industry has decided not to ignore the film because the move would "admit tacitly that some of what he says is true," when "that's not the case." In addition, he said, "He holds the camera, he gets the last say, and that's the problem for us" (Sack, New York Times, 6/24).
Moore on Friday screened the film in Manchester, N.H., to several hundred undecided presidential primary voters as part of a tour of the nation coordinated with help from the California Nurses Association, the Manchester Union Leader reports (Whitson, Manchester Union Leader, 6/23).
In Manchester, Moore said that he opposes the Massachusetts health insurance law signed last year by presidential candidate and former Gov. Mitt Romney (R).
Moore said, "Human beings are not automobiles. It sets up an insurance program that requires you to get insurance. What if you can't afford it? And who's going to regulate the insurance companies?" Moore added, "As a smart businessman, he realized that if we don't get in front of this issue, the issue will get in front of us and the people will tell us what to do. And that's the worst thing that could happen to Mr. Romney and his insurance company buddies" (Heslam, Boston Herald, 6/23).
Romney on Saturday said that the criticism from Moore was "one of the best forms of flattery I can imagine." Romney added, "He believes that a Castro-care type program is what America needs. We do not need socialized medicine in this country" (Heslam, Boston Herald, 6/24).
Moore on Sunday attended a rally in Denver to promote the film (Crocker, Denver Post, 6/25).
In related news, the three first responders who worked at the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center collapse and appeared in the film said that they expect to receive letters from the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the Department of Treasury to inform them of an investigation into their trip to Cuba, the AP/Manchester Union Leader reports.
The three first responders, who said that they did not have access to medical care treatment in the U.S. for various illnesses developed after they worked at the site, accompanied Moore to Cuba, where they received care. Moore received a letter from the office in May.
Martin Garbus, an attorney for the three first responders, said that any investigation into their trip would have a political motivation (Dobnik, AP/Manchester Union Leader, 6/23).
CBS' "Evening News" on Thursday reported on the film. The segment includes comments from Moore (Greenfield, "Evening News," CBS, 6/21). Video of the segment is available online.
In addition, NPR's "All Things Considered" on Friday included a discussion with NPR correspondents Bob Mondello and Joanne Silberner about the film (Block, "All Things Considered," NPR, 6/22). Audio and a partial transcript of the segment are available online.