Saturday, June 23, 2007

Michael Moore - Sicko! Wacko! Stinko?

Michael Moore Movie,”Sicko”: The Truth or Pinko Lingo?

Michael Moore, favorite wacko of Hollywood, George Soros, and far-left bloggers, has produced a documentary portraying Cuban medicine as superior to American medicine. The true test of his convictions will be where he will go for treatment when he gets sick.

Fast forward 20 years. What happens when Moore’s health goes blotto, and he needs medical help pronto? Who knows? But for now, we know these truths. Moore has aroused the ire of two of America’s most ardent advocates of a market-driven system, and earned the admiration of the New York Times movie reviewer.

Here are their comments.

First, Greg Scandlen, President and Founder of Consumers for Health Care Choice
, June 22, 2007

"Sick and Sicker" to Counter Michael Moore
CHCC Foundation Sponsors New Movie

If you go see Michael Moore's "Sicko" you will probably leave the theater wondering why nobody ever presents the other side of the story. Most people agree that Moore's critique of American health care is not just right, but his answers are seriously off-base. I mean, c'mon -- CUBA, for Pete's sake?

Moore's premise -- that over-reliance on Third Party Payers results in bureaucratic interference in medicine -- is sound. But his remedy -- to create one colossal Third Party Payer in the federal government -- will only make the existing problems that much worse.

The CHCC Foundation has arranged to be the fiscal sponsor for a new movie being produced by Logan Clements that will answer Moore's charges. Logan is actively filming in Canada right now, exploring the disastrous results of Canada's system. Deaths from neglect, two year waits for basic services, long waits for critical consultations such as oncology for cancer that delay treatment until is too late are common in Canada. The Canadian Supreme Court recently ruled the Canadian system violates the Canadian Charter because it denies the human right to use one's own recources to save one's own life and as a direct result many are dying.
The American people need to know that although our insurance system is flawed and needs a good injection of consumerism and transparency, replacing it with Canada's system will make a sick system much sicker. Access to a long waiting list is not access to care.

As the fiscal sponsor of the film, the CHCC Foundation will be able to accept tax deductible contributions to pay for the production of the feature-length movie and ensure that Michael Moore's propaganda is met with a factual examination of the realities of socialized medicine.

But he can't complete the movie without funds. Michael Moore had big Hollywood bucks behind him. All we have is people like you. Instead of just complaining about one-sided propaganda, this is your chance to help ensure that America hears the whole story. Any contribution -- large, small, or in between -- will help complete this important project.

To find out more about the movie, go to the film's web site --
To contribute, go to the CHCC Foundation's site -

Contact Information
phone: 301-606-7364

Next, Grace-Marie Turner, Founder and President, The Galen Institute

Health Policy Matters®
SiCKO. Need we say more?
June 22, 2007

So Michael Moore brought his latest film to town on Wednesday for a well-publicized preview. SiCKO seems to have pushed most other serious health policy discussions off the agenda this week, even while key congressional committees were voting on more than a dozen important health care bills on prescription drug safety and health spending.

Heaven forbid that we would wind up making policy by propaganda, because that is exactly what would happen if anyone were to base any serious health reform proposals on Moore's film.

First, he makes the ridiculous assertion that Cuba's government-run, single-payer health care system is far superior to the United States. Give me a break! Cuban doctors even botched surgery on Fidel Castro, and a Spanish surgeon had to be called in to try to repair the damage.

In a film scene reminiscent of the Keystone Cops, Cuban doctors dash around to care for several American patients (9/11 rescue workers) that Moore has brought over on a fishing boat he commandeered. The care they get is purported to be representative of the care that anyone in the socialized health care system in Cuba gets. Credible? You tell me.

Moore has also been doing the TV interview circuit, and one question he was asked seemed to get to the heart of his incongruity. An interviewer for FoxNews asked why he would be calling for a health care system run by government when he is so opposed to government in the first place. “Good question,” Moore responds. He then uses the opportunity to slam the Bush administration, saying that government used to do things right before the current administration took over.

Exactly when was it that we had that perfect government?

Today, it is overwhelmed just trying to issue passports. Could any government magically run an infinitely more complex health care system for 300 million Americans?

The Cato Institute held a forum on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning to show clips of SiCKO as well as clips from several other films which tell the other side of the story.

One of the presenters was filmmaker Stuart Browning of the Motion Picture Institute. He has produced a series of films at using interviews with patients to show the limits, restrictions on access, and rationing of care in single-payer health care systems, especially Canada.

Another film is in production to answer Moore. Called Sick and Sicker, producer Logan Darrow Clements is filming in Canada right now and has interviewed a number of us from the free-market policy community to talk about the value of a free-market health care system that values people and progress. The inimitable John Stossel of ABC News also is working on a major hour-long special this summer to offer what surely will be a more balanced portrayal of the U.S. and other health care systems.

One of Moore's core arguments in SiCKO is that profit in the health sector is evil. It is a view also shared by the chairs of many congressional committees and several presidential candidates.

They believe that the health sector can be forced to operate under a different set of rules than those which govern the rest of our economy.

But everywhere, profit is the reward that we give to the innovators, entrepreneurs, and risk-takers in our economy for offering something new or better. And the marketplace is where the conversation takes place between buyers and sellers to see if what they are offering has value and, if so, at what price.

That's the genius of our economy and how progress works. But a government-run system stops this conversation in its tracks and replaces it with price controls, centralized decision-making, and government micromanagement.

Single-payer advocates argue that we since we are such a rich country that wouldn't happen here - - that there is enough money for everyone to have all of the health care they need for the money we spend now.

But we do have centralized micromanagement of decisions and price controls in our own government-run health care systems -- Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA for example. Government makes decisions about what will be covered, under what circumstances and for whom, and how much doctors and hospitals will be paid for their services. And government seldom gets it right -- overpaying for some and underpaying for others, but also inducing huge demand for over-consumption of health care.

Earth to Michael Moore and crowd: The problems with the U.S. health sector aren't that it needs more government control and regulation but less!

In a system governed by free-market principles, people won't be asked to make decisions about their medical treatment when they are on a gurney in an emergency room. But they would make decisions about the kind of health insurance coverage they want to protect them if that happens, and they would gain more control over their routine and non-emergency care.

You do have to admit, however, that Moore is a master of publicity. He has created so much hype for his film, first premiering it before the liberal entertainment world at the Cannes Film Festival. Now, after a preview showing in Washington this week, he plans to open it in just one theater in New York today. And what will the cameras show? Long lines of people waiting to see the film, suggesting to all of the rest of us that this is a must-see movie.
Don't believe it.

Finally, the New York time movie critic, A.O. Scott

Open Wide and Say ‘Shame’

June 22, 2007

It has become a journalistic cliché and therefore an inevitable part of the prerelease discussion of “Sicko” to refer to Michael Moore as a controversial, polarizing figure. While that description is not necessarily wrong, it strikes me as self-fulfilling (since the controversy usually originates in media reports on how controversial Mr. Moore is) and trivial. Any filmmaker, politically outspoken or not, whose work is worth discussing will be argued about. But in Mr. Moore’s case the arguments are more often about him than about the subjects of his movies.

Some of this is undoubtedly his fault, or at least a byproduct of his style. His regular-guy, happy-warrior personality plays a large part in the movies and in their publicity campaigns, and he has no use for neutrality, balance or objectivity. More than that, his polemical, left-populist manner seems calculated to drive guardians of conventional wisdom bananas. That is because conventional wisdom seems to hold, against much available evidence, that liberalism is an elite ideology, and that the authentic vox populi always comes from the right. Mr. Moore, therefore, must be an oxymoron or a hypocrite of some kind.

So the table has been set for a big brouhaha over “Sicko,” which contends that the American system of private medical insurance is a disaster, and that a state-run system, such as exists nearly everywhere else in the industrialized world, would be better. This argument is illustrated with anecdotes and statistics — terrible stories about Americans denied medical care or forced into bankruptcy to pay for it; grim actuarial data about life expectancy and infant mortality; damning tallies of dollars donated to political campaigns — but it is grounded in a basic philosophical assumption about the proper relationship between a government and its citizens.

Mr. Moore has hardly been shy about sharing his political beliefs, but he has never before made a film that stated his bedrock ideological principles so clearly and accessibly. His earlier films have been morality tales, populated by victims and villains, with himself as the dogged go-between, nodding in sympathy with the downtrodden and then marching off to beard the bad guys in their dens of power and privilege. This method can pay off in prankish comedy or emotional intensity — like any showman, Mr. Moore wants you to laugh and cry — but it can also feel manipulative and simplistic.

In “Sicko,” however, he refrains from hunting down the C.E.O.’s of insurance companies, or from hinting at dark conspiracies against the sick. Concentrating on Americans who have insurance (after a witty, troubling acknowledgment of the millions who don’t), Mr. Moore talks to people who have been ensnared, sometimes fatally, in a for-profit bureaucracy and also to people who have made their livings within the system. The testimony is poignant and also infuriating, and none of it is likely to be surprising to anyone, Republican or Democrat, who has tried to see an out-of-plan specialist or dispute a payment.

If you listen to what the leaders of both political parties are saying, it seems unlikely that the diagnosis offered by “Sicko” will be contested. I haven’t heard many speeches lately boasting about how well our health care system works. In this sense “Sicko” is the least controversial and most broadly appealing of Mr. Moore’s movies. (It is also, perhaps improbably, the funniest and the most tightly edited.) The argument it inspires will mainly be about the nature of the cure, and it is here that Mr. Moore’s contribution will be most provocative and also, therefore, most useful.

“Sicko” is not a fine-grained analysis of policy alternatives. (You can find some of those in a recently published book called “Sick,” by Jonathan Cohn, and also in the wonkier precincts of the political blogosphere.) This film presents, instead, a simple compare-and-contrast exercise. Here is our way, and here is another way, variously applied in Canada, France, Britain and yes, Cuba. The salient difference is that, in those countries, where much of the second half of “Sicko” takes place, the state provides free medical care.

No state-run medical system is “free.” It may be “free” financially at the point of care, but it is not “free” of taxes, restricts “free” choice of doctor, and limits “free” access to preferred care and cutting-edge technologies. If you're sick, waiting lines and times are "free" fiscally in state-run systems, but are not necessarily good for your physical health. Moore doesn’t mention these trade-offs. “Free” is in the eyes of the beholder