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Nurses Praise Michael Moore's 'Sicko'

  • Monisha Bansal Staff Writer
  • Published May 22, 2007
Nurses Praise Michael Moore's 'Sicko'
( - "Sicko," the latest documentary from liberal political activist Michael Moore has won praise from a nursing organization, which claims the movie will re-frame the health care debate.

"Michael Moore has demonstrated compassion and courage in a film that, true to his career, doesn't bend to political expediency," Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association and the National Nurses Organizing Committee, said.

According to Moore, the movie "will expose the health care industry's greed and control over America's political processes." It is scheduled to open June 29.

In other films, Moore has targeted the auto industry ("Roger and Me"), the gun lobby ("Bowling for Columbine"), and the Bush administration ("Fahrenheit 9/11").

DeMoro said the individuals featured in Moore's film "didn't just fall through the cracks. They were deliberately thrown overboard."

They were "cast aside by the same insurance giants that far too many ostensible reformers think we should reward for their greed by funneling them hundreds of millions dollars more," she said in a statement.

"'Sicko' presents an emotional portrait of an array of people, including volunteer rescue heroes of the September 11 attack, who are denied needed care - despite the fact that most are insured," DeMoro said.

"And it points a finger at the source of the crisis, a profit-driven insurance industry whose biggest accomplishment is buying our U.S. Congress to prevent real reform," she added.

Moore premiered the film at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday to rave reviews. "My intention was to keep 'Sicko' under wraps and show it to virtually no one before its premiere in Cannes," Moore stated on his website.

"I knew that the health care industry - an industry which makes up more than 15 percent of our GDP - was not going to like much of what they were going to see in this movie and I thought it best not to upset them any sooner than need be," Moore added.

But the health care industry is not the only source protesting "Sicko." On May 2, the U.S. Treasury Department told Moore he was being investigated for violating the American trade embargo against Cuba by traveling to the communist nation to film staged scenes of 9/11 first responders receiving medical treatment.

"Rest assured of one thing: no laws were broken," Moore said, though he noted that he has hidden a master negative of the film abroad.

"I demand that the Bush administration immediately end this investigation and spend its time and resources trying to support some of the real heroes of 9/11," Moore wrote in a letter responding to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

But Michael Tanner, director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute, said the investigation will only give Moore more publicity.

Tanner called the movie "silly."

"That doesn't mean that we should be running around trying to seize his movie or throw him in jail," Tanner said. "His movie is wildly inaccurate. He just badly misrepresents the facts. It's pretty much nonsense."

But Tanner acknowledged that the movie "is going to be fairly effective propaganda."

"The public is not going to see both sides of it when they see this movie, so I think it's going to be effective from their point-of-view," he told Cybercast News Service. "It's designed to tug at the heart strings, not have a serious public policy debate."

Tanner noted that we are likely to see other health care providers praising the movie.

"There is a great deal of interest in universal health insurance among some providers. It guarantees someone to provide their product," said Tanner. "I've never known businesses yet that aren't happy to have the government pay for what they sell."

The American Health Care Association declined to comment for this article.

DeMoro, who was invited to an advanced screening, said, "'Sicko' is not just an indictment of an indefensible health care industry in the U.S. It's a rejoinder for those who think we can fix the soulless monster by tinkering with an unconscionable system that puts us further in thrall to those who created the crisis."

She commended Moore for promoting universal health care coverage like in Canada, England, France and Cuba.

"Instead of destroying our system and copying the failed systems in Europe and Canada, we should attempt to reform both U.S. tax policy and Medicare and Medicaid payment policies so that consumers and providers have stronger incentives to compete on the basis of quality and cost effectiveness," Robert Helms, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute told Cybercast News Service.

He added that "what is sicko about both the California Nurses Association statement and the Michael Moore movie is the low level of understanding of our health care system that both reveal.

"Our system does have faults, especially our lack of coverage and the high cost and overuse of many procedures and services," Helms said. "But these faults have more to do with misguided government policies than some inherent fault of our system."

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