Michael Moore is a portly man, who is quick to smile. He tells funny stories. He laughs when he tells them, again and again. But he is no clown. Dare to giggle. Dare to grin.
Michael Moore takes some deadly serious subjects, and he makes documentary films about them. His films are filled with humor. Humor and pathos.
Mr. Moore’s latest film is “SiCKO.” It is a punishing critique of the profit-driven U.S. healthcare system, by the Oscar-winning director of “Fahrenheit 9-11,” and “Bowling for Columbine.”
He has a long history of activism with a camera, according to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), sponsor of H.R. 676, the “Medicare For All, National Health Insurance Act.” The legislation is comprehensive because it makes the federal government the “single payer” of all medical bills, and extends coverage to all, meaning: “universal access to healthcare for everyone, period.” That is a fundamental and radical departure from the for-profit model, which is having ruinous economic results, without even delivering superior health care to all Americans.
This bill would create universal health care access by expanding Medicare to all US residents and creating a universal non-profit system over the next 15 years. The program would prevent private insurance companies from selling health insurance, and it would raise payroll taxes on businesses to pay for expanded public care.
Under H.R. 676, every person living in the U.S. would receive a National Health Insurance Card upon enrollment. The program will cover all medically necessary services, including primary care, inpatient care, outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, mental health services, dentistry, eye care, chiropractic, and substance abuse treatment.
As for the movie, Mr. Conyers said it is the most important development in the health care debate since former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton tried for universal health care legislation in the early 1990s.
“There’s a new villain on screens … but it’s not the villain you’ll see in Spider Man or Harry Potter, Mr. Moore said on Capitol Hill June 20. “The villain is the health insurance industry of America.” Instead of focusing on the nearly 50 million people in this country without any health insurance, SiCKO looks at the 250 million people in this country who have insurance, but who are often abandoned when they get ill, even after paying into the system for decades.
The key to fixing America’s healthcare crisis is to eliminate health insurance providers who work in favor of maximum profits rather than maximum health, he said. “They can still have fire insurance and car insurance, there’s still other work they can do,” Mr. Moore said. “But there’s no room for them in healthcare because we’re human beings, not automobiles.”
Conservative critics condemn the philosophy underlying the Conyers measure for “government interference,” calling the plan “socialized medicine.”
“I think we need to stop calling it ‘socialized medicine.’ I prefer to call it ‘Christianized medicine, because it is what Jesus would do,” said Mr. Moore. “His mandate to us who are Christians, and it’s not just the Christian religion. It’s the Jewish religion, it’s the Muslim faith. All faiths, really, teach this issue, that we will be judged by how we treat the least among us. We will be asked: ‘When I was hungry did you feed me? When I was homeless, did you give me shelter? When I was sick, did you take care of me?’ Isn’t that? Did I remember that?” Mr. Moore said to the cheering audience.
The goal of H.R. 676 is to ensure just that: that all Americans will have access, guaranteed by law, to the highest quality and most cost effective health care services regardless of their employment, income, or health care status.
The film reports that two of this country’s neighbors—Canada and Cuba, where profit and greed have been removed from the health-care system—both have superior health care systems and greater life-expectancy than in the U.S. In the movie, three New York firefighters who rushed into Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001, but who were denied medical treatment by insurers in this country were taken by Mr. Moore to Cuba, where they received life-saving medical treatment.
So, even though Michael Moore may laugh and joke, he doesn’t play around. His latest movie may make you laugh. It may make you angry. It is “SiCKO.” The movie’s not sick. Its director is not sick. SiCKO is the health care system in the United States.