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Sicko - Accretions

Fata Morgana
2007-07-08 01:10
Sicko
Public
See Sicko. It's such an important issue.

One columnist rebuts the common anti-Moore arguments well, so I'll just quote him ...

Sicko: Commenting on commentaries
Submitted by James Clay Fuller on Sat, 07/07/2007 - 08:36.

The reviews of Michael Moore's “Sicko” have been fascinating, the editorial and op-ed commentaries on the film even more so.

Apparently there is a rule in corporate journalism that every mention of Moore and his films, or Moore without his films, must contain at least two snide observations about his biases, his ever so naughty attacks on rich and powerful but somehow –- in the eyes of the corporate journalists -- defenseless people such as the chairman of General Motors, and, if you can slide it in, Moore's physical appearance.

Four snide comments, two or three misrepresentations and an outright lie or two about Moore or the films is better, I gather.

(A quick digression: No, I don't know Moore, have never met him or corresponded with him.)

The “Sicko” reviews and commentary are running pretty much true to form, but, interestingly enough, after all the snideness is done, every writer I've come across has had to admit that it is a good film, and that, sonofagun, the United States health care “system” truly is a bloody awful mess, pretty much as Moore says.

Of course, I haven't read the comments in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries publications, though if I run across one I might. The level of unintentional humor should be high.

Speaking of humor: “Sicko” is full of laughs. They're mostly the kind that burst from you when confronted by a lie so outrageous and obvious that the absurdity is overwhelming, but they're real laughs. They get little or no mention in most of the reviews and op-ed pieces I've seen.

Moore knew we'd laugh at the obvious self-serving absurdities of the super rich guys, and I guess that's one of the ways his biases show in the eyes of the corporate press commentators. Perhaps they think he should have paraphrased their idiocies to make them look less foolish, rather than letting them speak for themselves.

A July 5 op-ed piece in the New York Times by Philip M. Boffey is quite representative of the 10 or 12 I've read, I think. He calls the new film “unashamedly one-sided, superficial, overstated and occasionally suspect in its details,” before admitting, in the same sentence, that on the “big picture” of the failure of our health care system “Mr. Moore is right.”

Boffey, who writes editorials on health care for the Times, does not elucidate on his claims that the case Moore builds against our health care “providers” is overstated or “suspect in its details.”

I'll give him this, however. “Sicko” is one sided. Moore doesn't spend any time defending our broken down health care system, which leaves 45 million Americans without health insurance, which is ranked is ranked 37th among nations in quality of care and which overcharges us – often to the point of bankruptcy – and makes deliberate decisions to deny health care to individuals and, as Moore clearly demonstrates, allows people to die needlessly for the sake of protecting overblown profits.

Oops. Was that one-sided, too?

As someone who spent about 45 years in newsrooms, I very strongly suspect Boffey is somebody who is too close to some of his sources. But again I digress.

He says it is “hard to know how true” are the stories Moore puts on film -– stories such as that of a young woman who was retroactively denied health care insurance because of a minor yeast infection that was cured years before she applied for and got the insurance that was taken away when she needed it.

Well, I'll tell him. There is not the slightest reason to doubt any of the individual stories Moore has used in the film.

First, the director is too smart to use a phony story, and risk getting caught, when there are, as he says, countless such stories. When he put out a request on his Web site for personal stories of being screwed by health insurers, Moore was inundated. Within days, he had more than 20,000 such stories.

Second, I can recount four or five such tales from the years I was the primary caregiver for my aged mother, and another dozen from among my acquaintances. This moment, I am deeply concerned about a friend who is in despair because of the years-long battle he has had to wage with his health insurer in order to get care he must have to live, and the debt that has piled up as a result.

Anyone who hasn't experienced such a situation, or doesn't at least know someone who has had to fight for his or her life in such a way, must live in another country.

My favorite criticism of Moore, however, is one employed by at least half the commentaries I've read: That the director didn't give the insurance and pharmaceutical industries time in his film to tell their side of the story.

That, folks, is grandly absurd.

Moore is laying out facts. The industries that profit so hugely from our illnesses spend hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising, public relations and lobbying to “tell their side of the story.” One month's expenditure by the insurance industry for those activities substantially exceeds the cost of making “Sicko.” And Moore doesn't own a single member of Congress; they've bought dozens. (The insurance industry's almost $400,000 in contributions to Hillary Clinton's campaign purse alone would have covered a substantial portion of the cost of making the film.)

Let them tell their lies on their own dime.

Boffey, like almost all of the others whose “Sicko” commentaries I've read, also complains that Moore is to unfailingly kind to the health care systems of other countries. (The film has episodes shot in England, Canada, France, Italy and Cuba.)

What makes Boffey and one or two of the others most annoyed is that Moore doesn't mention “the months-long waits to see specialists in Canada and Britain...”

Well, actually, it does come up in the Canadian interviews, and the Canadians snort in disbelief when the claim is made, though they admit that there sometimes is a wait of a few weeks to see a specialist for an elective or entirely non-threatening treatment or condition.

And the critics fail to note that under our system of money-vacuuming HMOs and profit-building insurance companies, the waits to see specialists in this country often are every bit as long, and longer, than those the defenders of our system claim are the rule in other countries.

The very large network of clinics through which I get my health care and which has close ties to the HMO that provides my health coverage, has made a deliberate decision to limit the number of specialists of several types in its network in order to maximize its nonprofits. (Some specialties, such as cardiology are big revenue producers and so not tightly limited.) When I've complained about long waits to see a specialist, several people within the organization, including four doctors, have confirmed my suspicion on that issue.

Because of a couple of chronic conditions – not life threatening, at least for now, though they have that potential – I must occasionally see specialists in three different areas of medicine. The last two times I had such a need, it took three to four months from the time I placed the first call seeking an appointment until I actually got into the doc's offices. In another case, it was almost five months.

I am not alone in that, despite all the phony denials the HMOs and clinics might produce. Give me 24 hours and I assure you I can provide the names of at least 20 others who have had the same experience. (And it could be 100 others or more if I put the word out on the Net.)

All of the pieces I've read about “Sicko,” have what I find to be a glaring omission.

Not one mentions the comments by Tony Benn, a former member of Britain's Parliament. Yet Benn's statements probably are the most profound element of the film.

He notes, as other good people often do, that “if we have the money to kill (in war), we've got the money to help people.”

But, more importantly, Benn tells Moore, that all of Europe and many other places have good health care systems while the United States lacks such a basic service because in Europe and elsewhere, “the politicians are afraid of the people” when the people get angry and demand some action. In the United States, he observes, “the people are afraid of those in power” because they fear losing their jobs, fear being cut off from health care or other services if they speak up and make demands.

“How do you control people?” Benn asks, and he answers: “Through fear and debt.”

His point is that in the United States we have a great overabundance of both.

Having ignored Benn's succinct analysis, some of the writers, and especially Boffey, state as fact that Americans would reject out of hand any attempt to create a government-run universal health care system. They produce no facts to support the claim, so apparently they just “know” it.

If someone conducted a poll today, asking a section of Americans if they want “socialized medicine,” the results might seem to support the claim of Boffey and others.

But if the gutless Democrats went out and explained, clearly and often, how a government run single payer system actually works, and what it really costs, and what the people of Canada, France, Britain, Germany and other countries really think of their health care systems, the ignorance-rooted suspicion could be reversed in a matter of months. And I believe that is true even assuming the inevitable all-out ad and PR campaign by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to protect their enormous profits.

(Does it occur to anyone that the profits they suck from our system, while we struggle for and often are refused decent health care, are truly enormous if the industries are willing and able to spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to protect those profits?)

Every American I know is fed up with our present health care mess, and more and more are deeply angry.

Go see “Sicko.” It's a marvelous film, it's full of laughs and, yes, it will give an edge to your anger. Then do something useful with that anger. Members of Congress and state legislatures are just a phone call, a letter or an email away.

And don't be conned by the less-than-half measures proposed by the present gaggle of corporation-serving presidential candidates.
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jeffreydachmd
2007-07-08 14:44 (UTC)
"SICKO" by Michael Moore
What is the real solution, if Michael Moore’s government sponsored universal health care is not the answer?

The crux of the "SICKO" documentary is the disconnect between our expectations and the reality of health care. We are expecting compassionate care from another human being, and instead we get a faceless corporation. The person behind the desk or window is an agent of a health care corporation, which is not a human being, whose primary goal is to increase corporate profit.

This is America, and corporate profit is good, the profit motive forming the basis America’s greatness. The basic problem is that a corporation is not a human being. Therein lies the fallacy of replacing a corporation with a government agency, neither of which is a human being, when what we really want is a human being to deliver compassionate health care, and assist in serious health care decisions.

Review of "SICKO", by Jeffrey Dach MD

Jeffrey Dach MD
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(Anonymous)
2007-07-08 18:29 (UTC)
Re: Jeffrey Dach MD
JDMD is spamming the blogosphere with this little posting and link to his article. It is exactly the kind of warm, avuncular, populist red-scare tactic that Ronald Regan was used to promote on LP records, except rennovated with a hint of new-age and nostalgia. I have lived all my life in countries (3 of them) with universal public health care, and believe me, the only people who are *ever* involved in any medical interaction are the doctors, nurses and patients.

It's *all* human-to-human contact in these systems. Doctors never need to worry about what is covered, or by how much. They just solve your problem with you. So unlike JDMD's fantasy of what public health systems are like, there is essentially ZERO contact between patients and health care system administrators or civil servants.

JDMD can pull on nostalgic heartstrings all he likes, but when he says that public health systems make you face a cold corporate interface, that is *so* untrue!! In SiCKO, the Canadian, British and French doctors all talked about how they would hate to practice in a system where they had to consider finances *at* *all*. They preferred just to be paid well so they could focus on patients and on medicine.

There is no "fallacy" of replacing a corporation with a government agency!!!!!! Salaried doctors or state-paid doctors can JUST SEE YOU! They are free to focus on *you*. The state agency takes the financial questions out of the examining room, so doctors can just work with patients!

JDMD sounds like he's selling something.
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jeffreydachmd
2007-07-08 18:59 (UTC)
Re: Jeffrey Dach MD
Regarding the above reply from our anonymous friend, the question I raised in my article is about who makes the difficult decisions regarding rationing of health care.

Unfortunately, replacing a faceless health insurance company with a faceless government agency will not really help with this question.

What we really want and need is a compassionate human being to assist in these decisions, regardless of the system.

"JDMD sounds like he's selling something."

Yes, I am selling something, my newsletter, but of course that's for free, and you can subscribe at my web site:

http://www.drdach.com/

or my blog

http://www.jeffreydach.com/



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Sam
edge_of_within
2007-07-08 18:19 (UTC)
(no subject)
beautiful.
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fanlain
fanlain
2007-07-08 20:11 (UTC)
(no subject)
We actually can see this in our town at the more unconventional theatre. Woohoo! It stops showing on Thursday. Our plan is to see it with the girl from Portugal that we just met (J) on Tuesday.
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Kris
anemone
2007-07-09 01:15 (UTC)
(no subject)
Watching Fahrenheit 911 was annoying. It was a waste of time, containing so much misleading information that you could not separate the good information from the misinformation. I don't plan on seeing Sicko for that reason. (That said, I think our current health care system is a disaster.)
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jofish22
jofish22
2007-07-09 03:40 (UTC)
(no subject)
I just saw Sicko tonight. I think it's better than Fahrenheit 911; it's well argued and well thought out. Go see it.
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Paul, Evil Administrator: Sydney
eviladmin
2007-07-09 22:34 (UTC)
(no subject)
picture_keywordSydney
Our health care system is a mess. Given that, Moore could have managed to make a film without managing to shade the truth in such a was as to debase his argument. If I wanted to make a horror film about European Health Care, I'm sure, I could make one just as sensationalist. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-oped0626sickojun26,0,7075775.story?coll=chi-newsopinioncommentary-hed

Using Moore's film tactics, I could make you think the Cuban or British system was the worst in the world. People die needlessly on waiting lists, are denied treatments, are left unattended, etc.
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Fata Morgana
chimerically
2007-07-09 23:47 (UTC)
(no subject)
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much of a mass-media market for scientific reporting ... ;~) Sensationalism entices people, even though it makes it easier for opponents to be dismissive. I wish a nice balance could be struck, but I haven't seen any good examples of that on contentious topics, unfortunately.
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Jeff
lbchewie
2007-07-10 03:04 (UTC)
(no subject)
I saw the film opening weekend and had mixed feelings about his reporting. I wholeheartedly believe the US health care system is disasterous, and have had many battles with it myself. Nonetheless, there seems much to be desired in his "documentary."

I blogged about my reaction at length in case you're interested in reading my analysis.
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joshua_314
2007-07-23 04:46 (UTC)
Support
Hey M,

Thanks for posting support for the film. I'm happy Moore touched on more than simply healthcare in the film, but also the system of greater control that underminds our true independence/freedom (with brief mention of student loans and employers exploiting the debt of post-college young people).

Criticisms of Moore's style aside, I'm happy he devoted his time and life to helping bring more awareness to the publuc (though a small percentage of folks will probably end up seeing the film).

:)
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(Anonymous)
2007-10-20 05:51 (UTC)
Re: Support

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