June 28, 2007, - 5:26 am

“Sicko”: An Adjective Best Meant for Deluded Silver Screen Propagandist

By Debbie Schlussel
Watching the new Michael Moore propagand-umentary “Sicko” (in theaters Friday), I was reminded of my 1997 encounter with the flabulous filmmaker.
In 1997, Moore insisted on sitting next to me at a Detroit-area screening of his second major documentary, “The Big One.” Moore mentioned my early ’90s one-vote loss in a race for the Michigan House of Representatives in his best-selling book, “Downsize This!” on which the movie was based. And a mutual friend of ours invited me to the small screening.
“I want to see the reaction of a Republican,” Moore said as he sat down next to me. Like most of Moore’s movies, the anti-corporate movie was clever and entertaining, while full of propaganda and completely misleading.

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After the screening, I told Moore that I thought it he was a hypocrite to be so critical of corporate welfare in America (a point on which I happen to agree with him), while at the same time he was touting a Detroit Tigers hat and an L.A. Lakers T-shirt. Sports teams, as I pointed out, are among the biggest, most undeserving recipients of government-doled corporate welfare. And off the field, I told him, they produce the fewest, least stable market-wage jobs.
Moore’s response:

You’re right. What can I say? I’m a hypocrite. Who says I’m consistent?

Since the past several years have brought forth both press reports and personal anecdotes by former Michael Moore employees of unpaid overtime, low wages, and lack of appropriate benefits and healthcare given by their employer (Mr. Moore), I couldn’t help but think throughout watching “Sicko” of Moore’s convenient response:

You’re right. What can I say? I’m a hypocrite. Who says I’m consistent?

Exactly. And that’s a major problem with “Sicko” . . . and with everything else Moore does. Do as I say, not as I do. I refuse to live like that, but I know what’s best for you.
Yes, the stories of Health Maintenance Organizations denying reasonable care to paying customers are outrageous and heartbreaking (though many of the cases and Congressional testimony he shows are over a decade old). But Moore touts socialized medicine, as if it is somehow different. What he fails to realize is that HMOs are, in fact, socialized medicine.
Moore denounces those of us who are against this failed Communist approach to healthcare, when he’s also denouncing the closest manifestation of it we have here: “managed care.” Middle-men at insurance companies–with complete federal government sanction–set doctors’ prices (well below market and inflation rates) and impose unfair, normally illegal price-fixing schemes with suppliers (doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies), customers (employers and patients), and competitors (the National Insurance Clearinghouse, which shares info on patients and ensures lack of competition).
That’s socialized medicine. We already have the unworkable system of bad medicine that Moore wants. The only difference is that the government has contracted it out to third party agents, rather than completely controlling it.
“Sicko” shows us an America that is allegedly “behind” many countries in the world in healthcare, and lavishes undue praise on countries like Communist Cuba and France. But he fails to realize that with HMOs, we are well on our way to their systems where everyone gets the same healthcare–universally bad.
Moore shows us the short waiting time and zero cost of healthcare for his friends and relatives in Canada, just a quick drive over the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor, Canada. But those stories are anecdotal, not representative of the norm. He doesn’t show us what’s actually going on with our neighbors to the north: That plenty of Canadians are driving in the opposite direction–to Detroit from Canada–to avoid the long waits Moore forgets to mention and the universally-awful Universal Healthcare. And they are paying out-of-pocket for Americans to treat them.
That’s because Canada’s healthcare is not exactly the fantasy Michael Moore would have us believe it is.
My cousin, Myrna, apparently lived in a different Canada than the rosy, glowing Canada where Moore’s cousins live. She had diabetes and developed black spots on her eyes. But under Canada’s magical health plan, she had to wait so long for a proper operation that she eventually went blind. And it was too late. That’s the real story of Canadian healthcare.
In Canada, they have little more than one MRI machine per major city. The waits for a basic MRI for a serious injury are endless. In the U.S., most hospitals and even small private clinics have several MRIs. We have the most MRIs per capita. That’s why the injured here don’t have to go irreparably sick like my cousin Myrna, waiting for treatment. Canada is rife with incidences of ceaseless waits for limited numbers of hospital beds and stories of well-connected politicians and their relatives moving ahead in the line. You don’t have to wait for a hospital bed in America.
And there is a reason why wealthy Saudi sheiks and other gazillionaires come to America for treatment. They could afford to go to the “medical paradises” Moore claims exist in Britain, France, and Cuba (which ranks 39th in world healthcare according to World Health Organization rankings, behind the U.S.). But they don’t. Because they deal in reality and want the best medical care available. That’s here in America. If you had a choice to be treated by a doctor in America or go to Cuba or France, would you really choose either of the latter two choices?
The best days of American medical care were prior to HMOs, when Americans paid out of pocket for all of their doctor visits and prescriptions. There was no Communist-like middle-man (ie., the HMOs) getting involved add unneeded, exorbitant extra costs for pushing paper. You visited your doctor only when needed, and you paid a lot less.
Market-based medical care–the true manifestation of the capitalism that Michael Moore detests (except when it comes to his performance at the box office)–worked just fine. And everyone could afford it. Insurance was strictly for catastrophic care, not every day papercuts. Your doctor was not over-worked and spent enough time to give you the best diagnosis and prescription for treatment.
The best and brightest went into medicine because they could earn what they wanted, not what a government-sanctioned middle man at an HMO told them to charge. And they were the final arbiters of treatment–not a bureaucrat with no medical education and training. Since socialism has crept into America’s healthcare industry, the best and brightest are no longer becoming doctors. It’s the capitalist truism that socialism and Communism won’t change: The best and brightest generally go where the money is. And with longer hours, lower pay, and haggling with HMOs and trial lawyers representing greedy patients, the money isn’t in medicine.
American healthcare would be best if the government outlawed HMOs as the illegal trusts, restraints of trade, and unfair monopolies that they are. A return to market-based, out-of-pocket pay for care would end the $200 per pill medicines and exorbitant costs for care.
But that’s not what Moore wants. He wants a larger manifestation of HMOs and a move to the healthcare that has sent the best doctors here, refugees of Britain and Canada.
When Moore shows us the American expatriates in France and other Frenchmen bragging about their great lives and the amount of time they take off from work, I thought back to the many complaints of former Moore employees–who didn’t get much in vacations or overtime and spoke of a slave-driver boss. In France, the bloated, welfare-dominant government mandates a work-week of no longer than 35 hours, and many citizens are fighting to work even less. If Michael Moore were an employer in France, he’d be fighting these rules, since he can’t even keep the more lax ones with regard to his own employees here.
More important, Moore does not mention trial lawyers once in the over two hours of this movie. But a big reason medical care in Canada and France is so cheap is that medical malpractice lawsuits are virtually non-existent in those countries where the loser must pay lawyer’s fees.
Moore’s fellow constituents of the left–plaintiff’s attorneys like his lefty friend, John Edwards–have added billions of dollars to our healthcare costs and helped make healthcare unaffordable to many. Yet, Moore conveniently skips this important driver of expensive “defensive medicine” and settlement payouts by insurance companies.
How can you do a legitimate movie on the current state of American healthcare and not mention trial lawyers? Instead of showing us parasites like Edwards gaming the system, sucking doctors dry through endless litigation, and making medical care in America far more expensive, the few scenes of attorneys show crusaders fighting for patients against HMOs.
And finally, Moore shows us that Al-Qaeda Islamic terrorists in Guantanamo Bay get the best healthcare–better than most Americans. But the reason they get such great healthcare has nothing to do with what goes on in mainland America. On the contrary, it’s the fault of Moore and his buddies on the left in the ACLU and Human Rights Watch are like PETA. They want animals to be treated far better than Americans.
I’d rather we not give them such fine healthcare and better dining and workout equipment than most Americans. But Moore’s comrades on the left insist that these are not really terrorists, but fine, nice people who’d never kill Americans. I’m glad to see that Moore–if only for the convenience of the propaganda of this film–is finally admitting they are terrorists.
If there’s one thing Moore is right about, it’s “Sicko’s” drubbing of President Bush’s confusing $400 billion-plus Medicare plan. It’s funny that this huge boondoggle–which added much to our tax bill and gave no benefits to the few seniors that actually understand it–was pimped on America by so-called “anti-tax” activists like pan-Islamist Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform at the behest of his buddy, Karl Rove. The program is pure Ted Kennedy/HillaryCare.
This week, the American Medical Association held its annual convention in Chicago. But you hardly heard a peep about it. The AMA–which gets knocked in “Sicko”–is largely a spineless, impotent club of doctors who can’t stand up for themselves.
That’s because–like the HMO bureaucrats who are clueless about proper medical care and how to treat patients–a clueless silver screen bureaucrat is now deciding what’s best for American medicine.
And he–Michael Moore–is as much of a Sicko as they are.
***
Among my previous work on Michael Moore and his propagand-umentaries:
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21 Responses

i agree more debbie ,stop these crazy malpractice cases insurance cost will drop, the canadian system is a mess and always will be until they get the government out of it, and dont forget i understand these insurance companies need to make money but enough with these ceo and 35 vice presidents big salaries ,stock options etc. etc. i agree to pay market value if the company has success but the inflation rates of some of them dont deserve a dime over a basic base salary ,i could do a better job then them!!!!!!!!!!

PNAMARBLE on June 28, 2007 at 7:55 am

AMEN, Debbie. When HMO’s were taking over I kept shaking my head having been brought up under the Military healthcare system (which has vastly improved in the past 50 years!). Those who were with the military system knew what socialized medicine was like and didn’t want that for everyone. At the time, I couldn’t convince people…”it won’t be like that…this is a great idea! It will save us money!” was their mantra. Adding another layer of moneygrabbers to the system made no sense whatsoever and it’s proved to be true. The doctors I know can barely make a decent living thanks to HMOs and the trial lawyers driving the costs of malpractice insurance through the roof. Many have left the practice of medicine. Medical schools are now populated by women (not primary bread winners) and foreign nationals who have come from socialized medicine backgrounds. I’ve just had my costs of health insurance rise (again) as well…so much for helping the consumer. The only people getting wealthy are the middle men…and they don’t provide healthcare services, they are paper pushers! Capitalism works! I yearn for the “old days” of pay for service. We had insurance companies, but they only defrayed some costs, not dictated healthcare by proxy.

hawxy on June 28, 2007 at 8:27 am

The claim that malpractice suits have driven up health care costs is one of the biggest canards ever. Insurance companies have managed to snow over most Americans into believing that the majority of their expenses come from settling lawsuits. Untrue. Only a mere fraction of an insurance company’s annual budget is spent on malpractice (or any personal injury) litigation.
Here in Michigan, medical malpractice suits are just about gone, as the Michigan Supreme Court and the legislature have capped out the damages to a point where even the most egregiously negligent actions by doctors or hospitals are worth almost nothing. Yet, our health care costs are still rising in Michigan.

Hourman on June 28, 2007 at 8:45 am

I will NOT view “SICKO” since I will not give a wooden nickel to this left-wing, America-hating hemorrhoid, better known as Michael Moore.

Freddiefit on June 28, 2007 at 8:52 am

You are quite right in citing the overlap between HMOs, single payer systems, and nationalized health care.
I collected many examples of the problems real patients encouter in Canada and the UK in my paper “High-Priced Pain: What to Expect from a Single-Payer Health Care System” at the Heritage Foundation; Sept. 2006. http://www.heritage.org/Research/HealthCare/bg1973.cfm
These include:
1) Long waits and reduced quality.
2) Funding crises. (demand increases so government officials control costs by providing fewer products and services, and taxes increase massively)
3) New inequalities created (favoritism for the politically well-connected, limiting surgeries for the elderly, restricting dialysis, withholding care from very premature infants, reducing the number of intensive care beds, limiting MRI availability, and restricting access to specialists.)
4) Labor strikes and personnel shortages.
5) Outdated facilities and medical equipment.
6) Politicization and lost liberty (an elite few dictate what health care needs and desires ought to be and impose social controls over activities deemed undesirable or at odds with an expanding definition of “public” health; government officials will claim a compelling interest in many areas now considered private)

Kevin Fleming on June 28, 2007 at 8:53 am

Right On, Debbie! I’ve been against middle men for many years, and HMO’s are the worst kind. The fact that people really believe that they are getting “free” doctor visits for essentially hangnails is truly amazing. How is it that they have bought into a bill of goods that is so entirely illogical? These people are letting themselves be bribed with their own money by these HMO’s, same as the government does, and it works! Trying to basically evangelize the public into accepting that they will have to pay for that hangnail, or apply a bandaid themselves, and use insurance for what it was intended (and is very efficient at) is truly an uphill battle. One that I wage with every client I meet… (I sell insurance)

excitedVulcan on June 28, 2007 at 9:00 am

Nice article…good points. I am half way through a life sentence in the healthcare distribution business. I’ve spent twenty-four years distributing health insurance.
You are correct, and you are also wrong. The problem cannot be focused on greedy insurance executives, malpractice, overuse, the lack of consumerism, the employer-based system, HMO burearocrats, or any other primary culprit…the problem is ALL of the above, and a single payor system will not fix it, it will only make the problem worse.
At the same time, fewer small emerging companies are even offering health care to their employees at all. Nationally, only 6 of 10 employers now even offer health care to employees. If this country is going to rely on employer-based health care…that number has to be going up, not down. Further, the laws of supply and demand which control most free-market pricing do not work in health care, as they do in other industry.
It is also true that doctors and hospitals are not just victims of this sytems, their charges are absurd; with ONLY primary care doctors working long hours, and struggling to make ends meet. Specialists? Are you kidding, they use hospital equipment, they might spend 15% if total income on expenses, and pay their employees $6.50 an hour. They have no costs, and charge fees that can only be described as exploitation. A return to total fee-for-service health care will not solve this problem. This year, I have seen one day admissions with charges over $75,000!
Further, if you have any wealth, YOU are most at risk. When you owe a provider $100,000 and you have money thay will take every penny you have to get paid. But if you don’t…they will gladly settle for $0.10 on the dollar. Over 50% of mortgage foreclosures now result from medical bills.
This system isn’t working…even though you are correct, it is the best in the world. Single payor wont work in the US, but massive reform is needed quickly or the system will fail in the next fifteen years…guarantee it. And we can start by failing to re-elect Congress members who continually allow pharmaceutical companies who change the inactive ingredients in the drug to re-apply for an additional seven years of patent protection on their product. The system is corrupt from top to bottom.
By the way, if you really want a treat, see this on the truth on Isreal / Arab conflict….this is excellent!
terrorismawareness.org/what-really-happened/

chucker on June 28, 2007 at 9:29 am

You are absolutely right, and so is Kevin of the Heritage Foundation. I trained and practiced medicine in Canada and left when the Ontario government adopted a policy of driving doctors out in order to lower healthcare costs. Restriction of access to care is one of the chief means of cost control in a single payer system (the other main one is raising taxes). In addition to the examples you mentioned, cancer and heart patients wait months for treatment. Many of them die while waiting. It’s a way to keep costs down, although no one will admit it’s official government policy.
Those who think there’s a free lunch when it comes to health care had better take a careful look at the Canadian system. If they want taxes in excess of 50% of income, closed hospital wards and no access to doctors, and years-long waits for necessary surgery and tests, maybe they should just move north. Health insurance doesn’t mean anything if there’s no access to health care.

orthodoc on June 28, 2007 at 10:29 am

I live in the Palm Springs area of Southern California.
I required the services of an Urologist.
I was told by the HMO that there is only one Urology Doctor who accepts HMO.
I made an appointment with this Urologist.
He told me I need surgery.
But there are no surgeons here that will accept a HMO.
He said, I would need a referral to Loma Linda University Hospital.
I told him not to bother. I would go to the Loma Linda V.A. Medical Center.
That’s what I did. I’m now receiving the medical treatment I need.
Here’s a A Short Course in Brain Surgery
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_Rf42zNl9U

RJay on June 28, 2007 at 12:06 pm

I have to disagree on one thing, I don’t think any of Moore’s work is ever “clever and entertaining.”
I understand your point, Debbie, but I just don’t find Moore’s manipulation ever entertaining. He’s so over the top phony with his “common man” act I almost get sick seeing that smirk of his. He is such a cynical con man I loathe him.
Of course, as with everything Moore makes a film about, he has more than enough money that this isn’t an issue with him.
If Moore gets sick, I wonder which hospital in France or Canada he flies to? (I think we all know the answer)

Jeff_W on June 28, 2007 at 1:09 pm

I’m a 5.5 yr cancer survivor, I was fortunate enough to have a good plan thru my spouses employer which allowed us to go anywhere for treatment. I firmly believe that w/out the excellent treatment I received at MD Anderson in Tx and God’s graciousness to allow me to live a little longer that I would have died. I would not have received the type of care given to me at an HMO. We gladly pay more for our plan so that we can be in control of our healthcare. If someone else would ever take control of our plan it would be a disaster.
AMEN. MD ANDERSON IS THE BEST FOR CANCER. YOU WON’T FIND ANYTHING LIKE IT IN FRANCE, BRITAIN, CANADA OR CUBA. THAT’S WHY THEY FLY HERE TO MD ANDERSON FOR TREATMENT.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

piratelady on June 28, 2007 at 1:32 pm

i pay $232 every two months for a blue cross hsa. is it just me or is that really not that much money?!!!
everything about this country that is great and sets it apart from other sholes is being attacked and destroyed by the whiner generation and their spawn. its sickoning.
but you nailed it when you said that no one fights back.
fat indulged uberkinder will watch this movie on their dvd home theaters with big screens after having it delivered by the gubmint postal “worker” then they will sit at their $3k mac and cut their own throats.
when my pops was dying of cancer and was getting treated at hutzel the parking lot was full of conversion vans from Canaduh, where was Comrade Moore’s camera then.
drivel for the driveling..

playertwo on June 28, 2007 at 2:09 pm

The media in this country is decidedly left wing so don’t expect any truth there. If you read the Canadian newspapers the Canadians are not shy about their complaints concerning their “wonderful” health care system. They know it s**ks.

Burt on June 28, 2007 at 2:57 pm

Our Health Care system was just fine until congress passed the HMO act of 1973 and the final nail was when Ted Kennedy introduced the HMO Act in 1978. It caused our Health Care system to go from single payer fee based system to a HMO manged care model.
HMO’s make money by denying services and the results of the emphasis on shifting care to HMOs, and away from providing facilities for health care, were dramatic. From 1980 to 2000, over 1,000 hospitals were shutdown in the United States.
The entire HMO system was based upon permitting HMOs to deny treatment to various kinds of people. From the beginning the managed-care companies “cherry-picked” those whom they would insure–often enrolling only healthy patients, or, after open enrollment, denying access to needed specialists, tests, or treatment for those chronically ill, mentally or physically disabled. In 1976, Congress actually permitted HMOs to deny enrollment to persons institutionalized with a chronic illness or permanent injury.
HMOs have become a corporate, bureaucratic middleman in the health care system, driving up costs while undeniably degrading the quality of our medical care.
As usual, government intervention in the private market has caused unintended consequences, but Washington blames only the HMOs√≥not the laws that created them.They have legalized the corporate take over of the Health Care industry by creating HMO’s in the first place.
If you want to know where the health care dollars are going, look up any of the HMO insurance companies on the Stock Market and look at their quarerly profit statements. The billions they are making is the result of denying coverage to someone and screwing the doctors. The money they are making used to go for patient care now it is going into CEO’s pockets.

ScottyDog on June 28, 2007 at 3:17 pm

Great article.
It’s no use trying to beat it into death busters like michael moore. They LIVE for this. Your only fueling them more.

Squirrel3D on June 28, 2007 at 5:02 pm

I’m not sure why people think socialized medicine will be better than HMOs. HMOs are lousy, but at least if one gets lousy enough you can switch to another one. But who will you switch to if the government does a lousy job? And they will do a lousy job. No doubt about that.

LibertarianBulbasaur on June 29, 2007 at 3:34 am

Debbie,
Excellent review of another one of Moore’s anti-America movies.
I must assume that the ticket counter was closed with a sign that said, “Because Michael Moore cares so much about your welfare,he wants you to see his movie for “Free!”
Save your money and go see “Live Free or Die Hard.” I agree with Debbie it’s one of the best movies of the year!!
DWT

dances with trout on June 29, 2007 at 3:15 pm

Debbie, health care doesn’t work well here largely because of the input of trial lawyers. Doctors’ fear of litigation involves much more than financial loss, it’s a threat to their reputation and careers. That’s why access to care is so limited, particularly in E.R. settings, and also why so many expensive, worthless tests are ordered, and why so many routine cases are treated as expensive emergencies. Take the trial lawyers away and you will see an expansion of care, particularly for the poor, with no significant decrease in quality. Unfortunately as long as people see health care as a malpractice lottery with no downside to filing claims, it won’t happen.

Anonymous1 on June 30, 2007 at 3:04 am

We recently lost our 17 year old son to the medical mafia. They lied to us in order to keep this windfall client (fully covered by state insurance because he is a child) then proceeded to kill him. The neighboring university hospital without the protocol constraints imposed on the smaller hospital could have done as we asked and our son would be alive today. They understood that.
When things went bad (we were proven), and the liability became apparent, the medical mafia and the doctors behind it called childhood services and filed a complaint that we the parents were giving him street heroin – all to take custody to cover their fraud and malpractice. Heinous, pathetic – this is what our system has come to. Anyone employee standing up and defying the medical mafia quickly finds themselves on the street. The corruption has surpased the third world – we are becoming the fourth world – deeply falling into the lie of still being great. This is not whinning – it is reality.
Money should not mix with medicne. You will never find me in an American hospital under current circumstances. Who goes into a profession claiming to want to help people and makes millions of dollars doing it????????
My friend was director for a hospice program – he quit! He could not get any patients into hospice care because the hospitals refused to discharge them without a sizeable payout – bribe. No concern over patient care – it is all money.
If natural medicine does not work – yes, pick another country to get your care.

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