‘Sicko’ Pressures Democratic Candidates for President
The release of Michael Moore's documentary on the health care industry, "Sicko," is "creating an awkward situation for the leading Democratic presidential candidates" who are "sidestepp[ing] direct comment" on Moore's proposals for health system change, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In the film, Moore advocates the elimination of private health insurance in favor of a government-run universal health care system. Presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) all have announced health care proposals "sharply at odds with Moore's approach," but none of the candidates "is eager to have that fact dragged into the spotlight," the Times reports.
According to the Times, if Democratic activists -- who tend to be skeptical of private health insurers -- support Moore's proposals, the candidates' "pragmatic, consensus-seeking ideas could look like weak-kneed temporizing," the Times reports. However, Moore's proposal "could be political poison with the larger electorate," according to the Times.
Advocates already are preparing "to use the film to pressure" Democratic candidates, the Times reports.
Rose Anne DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, said, "The candidates haven't sensed the political fever in this country that fundamental change is called for in the health care system," adding, "What we are going to do is call on the candidates to reconsider their positions."
However, according to Ron Pollack of the advocacy group Families USA, "To presume that the private sector is going to sit idly by to see the destruction of private coverage I think is a misreading of reality." Pollack said, "I think the presidential candidates understand that if health care reform is going to have a chance of success, it will require bipartisanship and a balance of public and private coverage."
Robert Reischauer, a leading health policy experts and a proponent of universal health coverage, called the film "[p}olicy propaganda." He said after viewing the movie, "It's quite effective, [but] it's not a documentary" (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 6/22).
- The Hill: Moore on Wednesday held a premiere of "Sicko" in Washington, D.C., and although he invited many politicians and lobbyists, the "red carpet" was dominated by "dueling" protestors and members of the press, The Hill reports. Politicians who attended the premiere included Former Defense Secretary William Cohen; California Democratic Reps. Lynne Woolsey, Bob Filner, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Pete Stark, Lois Capps; Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.); presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio); House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-Mich.); Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.); and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) (Rothstein, The Hill, 6/22).
- Chicago Sun-Times: Moore on Wednesday held a rally in Chicago to publicize the film that attracted "a few hundred nurses, doctors, medical students and ordinary citizens" who carried signs and chanted, "Everybody in, nobody out," the Chicago Sun-Times reports. According to the Sun-Times, Moore "ignited the crowd with his call to 'eliminate the middleman between the doctor and the patient'" (Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times, 6/22).
After the public sees "Sicko," the "time just might be right for a prescription for change," Amy Goodman, host of the international television and radio news show "Democracy Now!," writes in a Seattle Post-Intelligencer opinion piece.
She notes that the "release of the film is being coordinated with an unprecedented, sophisticated grassroots action campaign." Goodman notes that Oprah Winfrey, YouTube, CNA, Healthcare-Now and other groups all are making an effort to raise awareness of the nation's health care crisis.
"Moore knows that people who organize can fight back and win," Goodman writes, adding, "'Sicko' is more than a movie; it's a movement" (Goodman, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/20).
In related news, KCRW's "To the Point" on Friday is scheduled to include a discussion about "Sicko" and single-payer health care ("To the Point" Web site, 6/22). Additional details about the segment are available online. A broadcast schedule also is available online. Audio of the segment will be available on the program's Web site after the broadcast.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.