Health Care Documentary Faulted for Lack of Balance
"Sicko," the new documentary on the health care industry directed by Michael Moore, is like a trial charging the health care industry with "greed and putting personal interests above" the interests of patients, but "one aspect missing from the film is the defense," the AP/Long Island Newsday reports.
AP/Newsday examines a number of the facts and incidents cited in the movie (Freking/Johnson, AP/Long Island Newsday, 7/1).
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday featured opinion pieces about "Sicko" by four Georgia residents. Summaries appear below.
- Robert Coney, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The purpose of this movie is to focus the waves of discontent into a tidal wave that cannot be ignored or beaten down, so that America can have a real health care system whose goal and purpose is to improve health," Coney, a primary care physician, writes in a Journal-Constitution opinion piece (Coney, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/1).
- Kelly McCutchen, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "If 'Sicko' had been more balanced, it would have concluded that neither socialized medicine nor the American system of health care is perfect" and that the challenge for the U.S. is "addressing the shortfalls without destroying the incentives that produce lifesaving innovations for us and the rest of the world," McCutchen, executive vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, writes in a Journal-Constitution opinion piece (McCutchen, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/1).
- Jim McMeans, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "'Sicko' clearly demonstrates that a conflict of interest exists between for-profit health insurance companies and their policyholders," and "Moore could have documented thousands of examples when health insurance companies, driven by the profit motive, denied or curtailed medically necessary care and legitimate claims," McMeans, a bookstore owner, writes in a Journal-Constitution opinion piece (McMeans, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/1).
- Kenneth Thorpe, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The single-payer system advocated by Moore "peaks solely to the system's financing and wholly ignores the critical need for reform where problems originate: within the health care delivery system," Thorpe, chair of the department of health policy and management at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and the executive director of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, writes in a Journal-Constitution opinion piece (Thorpe, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/1).
Summaries of several additional opinion pieces about "Sicko" appear below.
- Susan Brink, Los Angeles Times: The film indicates that the problems with the U.S. health care system are "economic, social and cultural" and "go beyond the boundaries of the provision of medical care," Times columnist Brink writes in an opinion piece (Brink, Los Angeles Times, 7/2).
- John Schwarz, Minneapolis Star Tribune: "It's time for health reform dialogue to move beyond ideological rhetoric" and to consider which "elements of a health system best serve the needs, interests and preferences of the public," Schwarz, director of United Health System, writes in a Star Tribune opinion piece (Schwarz, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 7/2).
- Deroy Murdock, Scripps Howard/Knoxville News-Sentinel: "Unless America scraps elections and simply yields power permanently to bleeding-heart Democrats, Moore's fans should remember that, every two to four years, universal health care could fall into the clutches of cruel Republicans," Murdock, a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, writes in a Scripps Howard/News-Sentinel opinion piece (Murdock, Scripps Howard/Knoxville News-Sentinel, 7/2).
- Thomas Fisher, Washington Post: By "giving cursory treatment to race and class," the film "avoided tackling the most intractable problems in this country's health care system," Fisher, a professor at the University of Chicago Department of Medicine and an emergency department physician at the University of Chicago Medical Center, writes in a Post opinion piece (Fisher, Washington Post, 7/1).
- Arnold Kling, Washington Times: U.S. residents "need to deal with the fact that health care and medicine are complex issues, without easy answers," and that much of the "medical innovation that the world enjoys comes from America," Kling, a Cato Institute adjunct scholar, writes in a Times opinion piece (Kling, Washington Times, 6/30).
WBUR's "On Point" on Monday featured a discussion on "Sicko." The segment includes comments from Deborah Burger, president of the California Nurses Association; Uwe Reinhardt, a professor of economics and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University; and New York Times film critic A.O. Scott (Ashbrook, "On Point," WBUR, 7/2). Audio of the segment is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.