Sunday, May 27, 2007


Michael Moore was on "Real Time" last night to plug his new film, SICKO, that examines America's failed healthcare system. Moore hopes the film, which has been lauded by FOX News of all people, will be less divisive than his others and spark a national debate about how our corporatized healthcare system is failing us.

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July 13th, 2007 5:30 pm
Moore's 'Sicko' Rings Close to Home for This Reporter

There is still triumph left in this world, and Michael Moore delivers a documentary about the healthcare industry that leaves the mind reeling and stinging

By Tim King / Salem-News

SALEM, Ore. - As Americans die in increasing numbers through the greed of hospitals, healthcare organizations and insurance companies, it adds insult to injury to learn that our lifespan in the states is less than many third world countries.

As our nation struggles in a desperate search for answers, those at the root of the problem do nothing to help. They should be more than embarrassed, and we should be more than angry.

Billions of dollars are flowing into the pockets of the richest CEO's and shareholders pockets as Americans die needless and avoidable deaths. All because our national priorities are exclusively money driven.

As our country descends the ladder of health, enter Michael Moore and "Sicko."

When I watched this documentary for the first time, I was forced to think about my own recent situation in Afghanistan, where I covered the war for two months last winter with a hernia belt holding me together.

I just read a passage about a Las Vegas Vietnam Vet named Mike; "a man with a razor blade scar and a sharp sense of humor," who was found dead in a ditch along the railroad tracks, dead from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage.

Author Matthew O’Brien of "Beneath the Neon" concludes that paragraph with, "I guess he never had hernia surgery. No insurance, no hospital bed."

That is how America treats its vets. They die in agony on the roadside because they don't have health insurance.

So there I was last November, on the verge of shipping overseas to cover my first war. I had to receive a thousand dollars worth of shots, and I had a severe hernia in what one nurse called “the lower 40.”

I understand lower hernias are fairly dangerous. If it goes, the owner usually goes with it, unless a hospital is very close by. Of course it would also have to be a hospital that accepted a patient without insurance, and those seem to be disappearing in this country.

I tried to work out a plan with my local hospital in Salem; they said they would be happy to arrange the surgery, as long as I could pay the bill on the spot for it. Everyone packs a few thousand bucks around, right? It isn’t like the economy is sagging or anything like that.

Besides, it is hard and expensive to own and operate your own groundbreaking media business, the only independent Internet news site in America, and some expenses like the $1,000+ a month insurance premium are just not on the radar right now. Certainly some will fault me, we are all supposed to be able to pay our own way, but the costs for a hernia surgery are out of line in this country.

I think that attitude about money and health care that I found at Salem, Oregon's hospital, is exactly what Moore is talking about in Sicko. We have dropped to a point where healthcare is only a business in this country; the heart was removed from it long ago.

That is not to say that there aren’t dedicated professionals because there are, but far more seem to be in it for the pay and the golfing.

I went to the war carrying about 120 pounds of gear. The kidney belt worked remarkably well, and I was able to always tighten it just a little more when necessary to put my hernia back inside the old lower stomach wall.

So at the end of my story about hernias and war, a $15 kidney belt from Ebay was the saving grace. I had far better things to say about that Internet commerce group at the time than my local hospital, that’s for sure.

At the time, I was the only staff reporter from any Oregon media organization who was covering, or willing to cover the troops. A reporter affiliated with KGW was in another part of Afghanistan at the time covering Canadian military operations. It seemed important to at least 900 Oregon families.

I admit that when I approached the hospital I naively thought they would be easy to work with, since I was heading out to cover the 900 Oregon combat troops in Afghanistan.

I figured I would get the surgery and make payments, it seemed reasonable at the time. But that is not the reality of people without insurance in the U.S.A. Instead, I was simply told “no.” Even though I was heading to a combat zone, Salem Hospital could not even consider letting me get the surgery and deal with payment later.

I thought about this hospital one day when I tried to jump aboard an Army CH-47 helicopter at Gardez, Afghanistan, loaded with Afghan combat soldiers on a mission. I didn’t have the strength or stamina to make that last step up the load ramp with all my gear. Two soldiers saw what was going on and they quickly helped me get my stuff aboard. I think I did very well overall, covering a war with a bulging hernia in my abdomen.

I tried to figure out why Moore’s disputed new movie made me so emotional, almost distraught, and then I connected the things I am writing about right now. My own misery at war with a hernia, the denial of the surgery, and the general fear of dying in combat, it all takes a toll; but the story about the Vietnam vet dying because he couldn’t have a routine surgery for a hernia was the true catalyst.

It is noteworthy that Sicko is not a George W. Bush bash-a-thon. It is a movie that grabs your heart and does things that you would never imagine.

The health management organizations like Kaiser Permanente are Moore’s enemies, and the pharmaceutical groups that are raping America in terms of costs, especially our senior citizens. Moore has the courage to call it what it is.

I take it his detractors on this one are all in favor of HMO’s and the pharmaceutical companies.

There is still triumph left in this world, and Michael Moore delivers a documentary about the healthcare industry that leaves the mind reeling and stinging.

In the end, Moore writes a $12,000.00 check to the man who maintains the largest anti-Michael Moore Website in America. It seems the man’s wife is gravely ill, and he had to choose between her health and his anti-Moore Website. He chose his wife.

Michael Moore said that didn’t seem fair or right, and then anonymously gave him the funds to get that anti-Michael Moore Website back on the air.

Top that.

Saturday, July 14th, 2007
An Open Letter to CNN from Michael Moore

July 10th, 2007 12:19 am

'SiCKO' Truth Squad Sets CNN Straight

UPDATE: Michael Moore Saves our home (U Tube Video)


Part 1: Michael Moore @ Senator Kuehl's Legislative Briefing

Part 2: Michael Moore @ Senator Kuehl's Legislative Briefing

UPDate: 8 July 07

Sicko' filmmaker has health-y outrage

LOS ANGELES -- "The doctor will see you now," says a Hollywood publicist as she opens a door for a reporter at Los Angeles City Hall.

Alone inside a conference room, there is Michael Moore, who has just finished speaking at a rally outside with supporters of universal health coverage for Americans.
Moore won an Academy Award for 2002's gun-control documentary, "Bowling for Columbine," and made 2004's President Bush-bashing "Fahrenheit 9/11."

"Sicko," his dissection of U.S. health-care infirmities, opened June 29 and is being distributed by the Weinstein Co.
Moore, 53, presents horror stories of Americans who have gone bankrupt and lost loved ones after health insurers denied coverage. He contrasts public health-care coverage in Canada, Great Britain and France with the private U.S. system. He visits Cuba for treatment of ailing Sept. 11 rescue workers, a trip that has prompted the U.S. Treasury Department to investigate Moore for potential violations of the trade embargo.

Moore sat down with the AP to discuss "Sicko."

AP: In "Sicko," you stop to ask what's wrong with a nation that might put profit ahead of people's welfare. Do you view your whole body of work as a sort of diagnosis of a sick society?

Moore: That's probably a good way to put it. I clearly got into this in part because I love the movies, and so the idea of making a movie seemed like an exciting thing to do. But then the stories I wanted to tell seemed to be pretty much based around an America that I thought could do better. And I believe that we're capable of much more.

AP: What effect do you hope "Sicko" has?

Moore: I went to some of the screenings . . . in New York and the sneak previews . . . People were leaving the theaters ready to ask the ushers, "Can you direct me to the torches?" I think the health- insurance industry, the pharmaceutical companies are in for some pretty bad times here. I don't think people are going to tolerate this any more. They're going to demand legislation.

AP: Have you had any health-care nightmares of your own?

Moore: I've been very lucky. I have not had any serious illness or whatever. Tonsils and appendix, that's my health-care history. And since belonging to the Directors Guild, I've had great union health coverage that most Americans don't have, because most Americans don't belong to a union.

AP: In your travels on this film, did you find many health-care providers with (a) sense of altruism?

Moore: I find doctors these days pretty demoralized by the whole system. Because family doctors don't make that much money anymore. Insurance companies really give them a lot of grief and make them jump through a lot of hoops to collect their money. Remember when you were a kid and went to the doctor? There might be one woman sitting behind the glass making the appointments. You go today, there's five or six people behind the glass, filling out forms, fighting with the insurance company.

We've really gone down the wrong road here by allowing profit (**Greed) to enter the equation.

UPDate: Fri, 06 Jul 2007

BlueCross Secret Memo Re: 'Sicko' ... "You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie..."

July 6th, 2007


An employee who works at Capital BlueCross has sent us a confidential memo written and circulated by its Vice President of Corporate Communications, Barclay Fitzpatrick. His job, it seems, was to go and watch "Sicko," observe the audience's reaction, and then suggest a plan of action for how to deal with the movie.

The memo, which I am releasing publicly in this email, is a fascinating look at how one health care company views "Sicko" -- and what it fears its larger impact will be on the public. The industry's only hope, the memo seems to indicate, is if the movie "flops."

Mr. Fitzpatrick writes: "In typical Moore fashion, Government and business leaders are behind a conspiracy to keep the little guy down and dominated while getting rich."

No. You don't say! That can't be!

BlueCross V.P. Fitzpatrick seems downright depressed about the movie he just saw. "You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie," he writes. "Sicko" leaves audiences feeling "ashamed to be...a capitalist, and part of a 'me' society instead of a 'we' society."

He walks out of the theater only to witness an unusual sight: people -- strangers -- mingling and talking to each other. "'I didn't know they (the insurers) did that!' was a common exclamation followed by a discussion of the example," according to Fitzpatrick.

He then assesses the film's impact: "[T]he impact on small business decision makers, our members, the community, and our employees could be significant. Ignoring its impact might be a successful strategy only if it flops, but that has not been the history of Moore's films ... If popular, the movie will have a negative impact on our image in this community."

The BlueCross memo then suggests a strategy in dealing with "Sicko" and offers the BCBS "talking points" to be used in discounting the film.

My heartfelt thanks to the employee who sent this to me.

And now a word from me to Capital BlueCross:

How 'bout a debate? No more secret memos and hand wringing about the millions seeing "Sicko." Just me and your CEO openly debating the merits of a system that kills thousands of innocent Americans every year.

In the meantime, I hope you don't mind me sharing your thoughts and impressions in your well-written memo. And if the rest of your executive team hasn't seen "Sicko," it opens in an additional 100 cities tonight for a total of over 700 screens across North America. Attendance went up a whopping 56% on the 4th of July, higher than any other film in the theaters right now. But don't be scared, and certainly don't be ashamed to be a capitalist. Greed is good! Especially good for you. There's nothing like having the pre-existing condition of being rich, should you ever get sick and need help.


Michael Moore

P.S. Join me at noon EST, today, when I'll be chatting with U.S. Steelworkers, the California Nurses Association, and whoever stops by to talk about "Sicko" and the industry's attempt to stop this movement. Check my website for details.

[The following memo was written by Barclay Fitzpatrick, VP of Corporate Communications for Capital BlueCross]

I was able to see Sicko last night in Lancaster. There were about 30 other viewers in the theatre covering all age groups. I have attached the well-written memo from one of our partners, which describes cases used in the movie, to the end of my memo. Also attached are the latest talking points from BCBSA. I will focus on impact to our brands, issues, and suggested strategies in this memo.

The Movie

You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie, he is an effective storyteller. In Sicko Moore presents a collage of injustices by selecting stories, no matter how exceptional to the norm, that present the health insurance industry as a set of organizations and people dedicated to denying claims in the name of profit. Denial for treatments that are considered "experimental" is a common story, along with denial for previous conditions, and denial for application errors or omissions. Individual employees from Humana and other insurers are interviewed who claim to have actively pursued claim denial as an institutionalized goal in the name of profit.

While Humana and Kaiser Permanente are demonized, the BlueCross and BlueShield brands appear, separately and together, visually and verbally, with such frequency that there should be no doubt that whatever visceral reaction his movie stirs will spill over onto the Blues brands in every market. Here are some examples:

* Horizon BlueCross/BlueShield is picked out early in the film in a collage of stories citing bad treatment of members.
* BCBSA is cited for rejecting a woman for coverage due to a high BMI - "too fat" is written across the screen over a copy of her application denial letter, which describes the BMI rejection.
* BlueShield of California denied coverage for a diagnostic test, which the patient later received overseas. Patient sues BS of CA and medical director admits to not 'seeing' the actual denial letter, which was given an electronic signature.
* BlueCross of California denied payment for a major surgery after they discovered a previous yeast infection, then dropped the person for coverage. This is followed by an interview with a person who claims to have been a specialist at finding inaccuracies in applications to enable post-treatment payment denials.
* A BCBSA card is shown while the narrator describes how they (insurers) got wealthy.

In typical Moore fashion, Government and business leaders are behind a conspiracy to keep the little guy down and dominated while getting rich. Nixon Oval Office tapes are used to show how the initial idea of a 'less care = profit' enterprise was supported by the administration and became the HMO paradigm. Legislators are presented as bought stooges for the political agendas of insurers and big Pharma. Insurers are middlemen in the Medicare Modernization Act - which is presented as a trick to charge seniors more for their prescription drugs.

Doctors are barely touched - only in the course of discussing the AMA's work to sink early efforts in the 40's and 50's to start universal health care. He takes efforts to show that doctors live well in other countries despite the existence of universal health care. In follow-up interviews, Moore has stated that he has spoken to and knows many doctors, and "doctors aren't the problem".

In the second half of the movie, Moore walks us through individual stories of the Canadian, British, French, and Cuban health care systems where everything is free and - he reminds us repeatedly - no one is ever denied service because they can't pay. In addition to health care, the government provides free day care, college, and someone to do your laundry. Everybody gets along and takes care of each other and life is beautiful because there is universal health care. As a viewer, you are made to feel ashamed to be an American, a capitalist, and part of a 'me' society instead of a 'we' society - and the lack of universal health care is held up in support of that condemnation.

The Impact
Moore's movies are intentionally intense and his objective in Sicko seems to be to revive the earlier Clinton efforts - not to achieve universal coverage with this movie, but to push the topic to the top of the agenda. He will be just as successful whether proponents mount momentum or discussion entails key stakeholders defending why it won't work.

As a health care industry educated viewer it is easy to pick out where Moore is cultivating misperceptions to further a political agenda, but you will also recognize that 80%+ of the audience will have their perceptions substantially affected. In demonstration of its impact, an informal discussion group ensued outside the theatre after the movie. While some people recognized how one-sided the presentation was, most were incredulous and "I didn't know they (the insurers) did that!" was a common exclamation followed by a discussion of the example.

The unfortunate reality for Capital BlueCross is that as the market leader, we will be affected both in brand and as employees as Moore's efforts in the movie and surrounding PR activity are seen by more of the community. The impact on industry savvy Sales' contacts should be minimal, while the impact on small business decision makers, our members, the community, and our employees could be significant. Ignoring its impact might be a successful strategy only if it flops, but that has not been the history of Moore's films nor the way this one appears to be headed. If popular, the movie will have a negative impact on our image in this community.

There should be no doubt that many of our employees will be asked what they think of the movie by friends, family, and neighbors. We should anticipate that our customer service people will be asked about particular cases from the movie and if we follow similar policies. Word and phrases we have routinely used to date in policy change communications or denial letters, such as "Investigational", will be seen as affirming the film's contentions. The national BCBSA response - while coming out against the film's divisiveness and focusing on the positive work of the Blues - steers media inquiries about policies and denials back to the plans themselves.

There are 4 key areas of misperception cultivated by the movie that we should consider in any messaging strategy:

1. That the industry is all about HMO's. Moore cultivates this further in his interviews. The reality is that HMO's are a minority product and have been for some time.
2. The movie attacks insurers for a profit motive, but makes no distinction among for-profit and non-profit insurers, and in its execution places the Blue Plans together with the for-profit insurers.
3. All plans and employees - from leaders to service representatives - are painted as motivated by profit to deny claims, and only those with crisis of conscience have come forward to confess their sins.
4. Perhaps most damaging of all, Moore completely fails to address the most significant driver of health care costs - our own lifestyle choices - and seeks to focus attention and efforts on the alluring 'quick-fix' of universal health care. It has taken a generation of poor nutrition and exercise to get obesity and related health issues - and subsequent costs - to their current levels, and Moore's movie fails to acknowledge the causal relationship or need to change (he briefly touches the subject in a non-memorable way). Contrast this to the recent Health Care Symposium held in Harrisburg - where a panel of representatives from Government, Insurance, Hospitals, Business, Physicians, and even Lawyers agreed on one thing - that there was no quick fix and that Health and Wellness was the critical area of focus.

I believe the most successful strategy will not be in attacking the movie for its weaknesses or misperceptions, but in distancing ourselves and our brand from the groups and motivations he attacks, demonstrating the good that we do and achieve (aligns with BCBSA strategy), and in articulating our disappointment that he did not address the truly relevant issue of improving our health and wellness. We will convene a team to consider other approaches and work on potential messages for media inquiries, customer service, and employees.

Confidential Memo (from partner)

SiCKO - viewed on 6/26/2007


* The main theme of the movie is that American society needs to focus on the "we" and not the "me" in healthcare.

o This broad message is an overlay for the specific criticisms of the healthcare industry - the movie asks where the morality of the American public lies and contrasts America's approach to health care unfavorably with other nations.

* SiCKO does not go into any depth about how health insurers operate how the health insurance business works - instead it fixates on what it characterizes as the profit incentive to deny care to patients (e.g. examples of barriers to getting health insurance if you are not healthy; examples of people being denied expensive tests or procedures; examples of efforts to deny reimbursement after care has been received.)

* The film draws no distinction between not-for-profit and for-profit insurers - in fact the Blue Cross/Blue Shield brand is intermixed with the for - profit brands as background reference points. o One scene shows a Blue Cross / Blue Shield logo as Michael Moore's voice over begins, "While the healthcare companies get wealthy..."

* The health insurers that get the most airtime are:

o Kaiser Permanente
o Humana
o Blue Cross of California
o Aetna

* No Pharma companies are mentioned - but SiCKO suggests in multiple instances that prescription drugs are overpriced

o At a pharmacy in London, prescription drugs are £6.65, no matter how large the dose
o In Cuba, one bankrupt 9/11 worker's inhaler costs 5 cents, instead of $100

Further Notes

* Some of the examples of denial of care highlighted in the film:

o A woman with Kaiser Permanente takes her 18-month daughter to the hospital in an ambulance, only to be told to go to an in-network hospital. By the time they reach the second hospital, her daughter has stopped breathing and dies 30 minutes later in ER.

o A woman with Blue Shield of California has a tumor but is denied requests to get an MRI, or to see a specialist. While on vacation in Japan she is given an MRI, and eventually returns to the U.S. to demand treatment from her insurer.

* In the ensuing court case, a doctor admits to denying her request without having reviewed it.

o Blue Cross of California approves one woman's $7,500 treatment, but the approval is later denied for her failure to report a previous medical incident - a yeast infection.

* "They're just looking for a way out," she says

* Other examples of how health insurers avoid paying for treatment:

o One graph (from Humana) shows that doctors with the highest % of denials get a bonus.

o Michael Moore interviews a former health insurance employee who specialized in denying care to patients retroactively - by finding inconsistencies in their medical records.

o A 5-minute piece in the beginning of the movie .

* The film also focuses on the politicians and the funds they raise from Pharma and other player in the health care industry and alleges that the system has been heavily influenced by lobbyists and contributions.

Barclay Fitzpatrick
Vice President
Corporate Communications
Capital BlueCross
(w) 717-541-7752
(c) 717-329-3648

MichaelMooreTalkingPoints 61807.doc

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
Talking Points in Response to Michael Moore's "Sicko"
June 2007

1) The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and the 39 Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are committed to improving the U.S. healthcare system for our nearly 100 million members through continuous innovation that reflects the ever-changing healthcare landscape and the needs of the consumer.

2) The Blues recognize the need for improvement of both the coverage and delivery of healthcare. But the divisive tone set forth by Michael Moore and his movie "Sicko" is not helpful. Positive change to our healthcare system can be best achieved through shared responsibility, not recrimination. To ensure Americans have access to the best healthcare that is both timely, efficient, and of high quality, requires the collective contribution of all stakeholders -- consumers, providers, employers and the government.

3) The Blues participation in the Health Coverage Coalition for the Uninsured is a primary example of how the broader healthcare community is working together to reduce the number of uninsured in the United States.

4) The Blues are working on myriad initiatives that ensure Americans have access to quality and affordable healthcare. Each day, Blue Plans across the country are bringing healthcare value to their members in a number of ways such as new advances in health information technology and greater access to cost and quality information. In addition:

o The Blues recently created Blue Health Intelligence a data resource that will shine light on emerging medical trends and treatment options in an unprecedented way. To further the use of evidenced-based medicine, BCBSA has called upon Congress to establish an independent, payer-funded institute that will study the comparative effectiveness of new and existing medical treatments and procedures.

o Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are at the forefront of healthcare transparency by providing their members with online access to real-time information related to provider quality and the cost of common healthcare services. In addition, the Blues have committed to making personal health records available to their members by 2008.

o We are working to ensure that Medicare is funded appropriately and that seniors continue to have access to comprehensive benefits.

5) The Blues are proud of these efforts and we will continue to work with consumers, providers, employers and the government to provide Americans with the healthcare services and information they need to lead full, healthy lives.

UPDATE: July 26 2007

Moore's 'Sicko' Lands Blows on U.S. Health Care


Michael Moore's 'Sicko' confronts American public

The filmmaker's latest documentary asks why Americans don't demand better healthcare.

By John Horn, Times Staff Writer

CANNES, France - Michael Moore and his movies have always been hard to miss. But with "Sicko," his acidic new documentary about healthcare, there's suddenly less of the filmmaker and his usual methods to be found.

Not wanting the limelight, Moore is forgoing the competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where he won the top prize with 2004's "Fahrenheit 9/11." In "Sicko," he isn't chasing down insurance and pharmaceutical executives for confrontational interviews. The famously outsized filmmaker, having spent several years studying healthcare, even has lost 25 pounds-"One way to fight the system," he says, "is to take better care of yourself." But what's most striking about "Sicko" is that Moore's current target is much harder to pinpoint.

While the foils of his earlier films were obvious -- General Motors in "Roger & Me," the gun industry in "Bowling for Columbine," the Bush administration in "Fahrenheit 9/11" -- the ultimate protagonist in "Sicko," opening June 29, is American indifference.

"When people say there is no confrontation in this movie, to me there is a big confrontation in this movie," Moore said in an interview here. "Because I am confronting the American audience with a question: 'Who are we, and what has happened to our soul?' To me, that's maybe more confrontation than going after the CEO of Aetna or the CEO of Pfizer." The reason Moore feels compelled to ask this "Sicko" question is because, he feels, the country unthinkingly settles for substandard and ruinously expensive medical treatment, especially when compared with countries with universal healthcare.

Although the film is filled with terrible medical outcomes -- the movie opens with an uninsured carpenter with severed digits who must decide if he wants doctors to reattach his ring finger for $12,000 or his middle finger for $60,000 -- "Sicko's" central thrust is to hold up models of superior, government-provided care in France, Canada and (in a twist that has landed Moore in hot water with the U.S. Treasury Department) Cuba.

"I don't have to convince the American public that there is something wrong with our health care system. I think most American people already feel that way," said Moore, who enjoys great coverage himself through the Directors Guild of America. "That's why I don't spend a lot of time in the film on the healthcare horror stories. I wanted to propose that there's a different way we can go with this. I'm hoping that the American people, when they see this film, will say, 'You know, there is a better way, and maybe we should look at what they are doing in some of these other countries..."

In a choice that certainly endeared "Sicko" to the local audience, Moore spends much of the film focusing on France's socialized medicine. Doctors lead comfortable lives, patients receive attentive care, employers grant extended health-related leaves -- all reasons the World Health Organization ranked France tops in its global 2000 survey of the best healthcare countries.

That the United States ranked only 37th on the WHO list, just two slots ahead of Cuba, particularly infuriates Moore: With more wealth and technology than any other country, we nevertheless have 50 million citizens without insurance, 9 million of them children. As "Sicko" anecdotally documents, many Americans eligible for insurance can't afford it, and a long inventory of preexisting conditions limits the insurability of those who can.

Among "Sicko's" villains are politicians who pocket millions from HMOs and pharmaceuticals while denouncing universal care as little better than a Communist plot. The film is particularly tough on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D.-N.Y.), once an advocate for universal care and now among the healthcare industry's biggest money recipients. (Moore says "Sicko" distributor Harvey Weinstein, a longtime friend and supporter of the Clintons, asked him to cut the sequence, but he refused.) To highlight the shortcomings of U.S. healthcare, Moore at one point in his film focuses on the plight of several chronically ill Sept. 11 rescue volunteers. Convinced that enemy combatant detainees receive better care in Guantanamo Bay than these national heroes do in the United States, Moore and the volunteers take a boat to Cuba. Despite its poverty, Moore says, Cuba's healthcare system is a model for the Third World.

But what makes for one of "Sicko's" most memorable sequences also sparked the wrath of the treasury department, which said the visit violated the Trading With the Enemy Act.

Moore said he had until Tuesday to respond to government requests for information about the trip, and that the penalties conceivably could include confiscation of the footage and criminal prosecution. "The lawyers are cautioning me to not treat this as a joke, which was my initial reaction."

If the Cuba inquiry put the spotlight back on Moore himself, the filmmaker says that wasn't his intention.

"I'm not going to be the one sticking my neck out here," he says. "People are going to have to come along. They are not going to be able to say, 'Let Mike go after this. We'll come along later when it looks safe.' And I don't need to convince the American public that there is something wrong here.

I am hoping to inspire them in some way, to become active, and to do something."

*** ***

'Sicko' Shows Michael Moore's Maturity as a Filmmaker

Sunday , May 20, 2007
By Roger Friedman

Filmmaker Michael Moore's brilliant and uplifting new documentary, "Sicko," deals with the failings of the U.S. healthcare system, both real and perceived. But this time around, the controversial documentarian seems to be letting the subject matter do the talking, and in the process shows a new maturity.

Unlike many of his previous films ("Roger and Me," "Bowling for Columbine," "Fahrenheit 9-11"), "Sicko" works because in this one there are no confrontations. Moore smartly lets very articulate average Americans tell their personal horror stories at the hands of insurance companies. The film never talks down or baits the audience.

"This film is a call to action," Moore said at a press conference on Saturday. "It's also not a partisan film."

Indeed, in "Sicko," Moore criticizes both Democrats and Republicans for their inaction and in some cases their willingness to be bribed by pharmaceutical companies and insurance carriers.

In a key moment in the film, Moore takes a group of patients by boat to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba because of its outstanding medical care. When they can't get into the U.S. naval base, Moore proceeds onto Havana where the patients are treated well and cheaply.

This has caused a great deal of controversy, with the federal government launching an investigation into the trip, which officials say was in violation of the trade and commerce embargo against the Communist country.

"This administration flaunts the law, flaunts the constitution," Moore said at the press conference, explaining the flap over the trip to Cuba.

Moore now claims the U.S. government says his Cuban footage may be illegal, and Moore said he made a second master copy of "Sicko" and had it shipped it to France immediately just in case of potential government issues.

++++++++++++ Grokking Caring +++++++++++++++

"Give something they can feel, and they'll move out of their concepts and into their experience, where healing begins,"

Making Health Care More Caring

Donna Karan| BIO

Along with my friend and partner in crime, Sonja Nuttal, I launched the two week Well-Being Forum at Urban Zen in what for me is a heart space -- my late husband Stephan Weiss' sculpture studio -- to bring in the best minds and healers from all traditions to figure out how to make our health care more patient-centered and caring. That journey is one we'll all travel one day.

I'm really touched hearing from so many of you. I've never written for a blog before and it's amazing to connect with so many people in this way. When I started the Well-Being Forum because of what happened to my husband and me, I knew that this is what this is a journey many people have been on in one way or another. But even knowing that, it's still wonderful to hear your stories. Each one is precious to me. I know that every one of us will have to go through something like this -- no one is immortal, none of our loved ones are immortal. That's an important part of this. So I really want to thank you for joining the discussion and contributing what you've learned from your experience. It means a lot to me to hear from you.

First of all, I want to say that I totally agree with what Hippocrates said in that beautiful quote one of you wrote in to the blog, "If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health." That's exactly what I want us to focus on. What can we do, what simple things can we take on, like yoga, nutrition, mindfulness, self-empowerment, self-care -- how do we learn them and use them and make them part of our lives especially when we become patients?

But my second question is what big things can we all join together and make happen so that the medical system we have includes prevention of disease, rather than only crisis management. There is a place for the latter, and I wouldn't want to do without it. It saves people's lives and I know that from personal experience. But it's not an either/or... it's both. How do we have the best of both worlds because I am convinced that each offers something of value.

Someone also wrote in to say that the benefits of integrative approaches are "rather subjective." That's an interesting comment because I'm trying to understand how we've all come to a place where the power of what we feel is somehow considered "not important." My feelings of love for my husband, family, and friends are the most important things in my life, and I'm not ashamed of that. My feelings about what is beautiful have guided me to create every single thing from a piece of clothing to a flower arrangement in my home. This is my life. So why would my feelings or your or anyone's feelings suddenly become unimportant the moment that we become ill?

Feeling sick doesn't feel good; feeling healthy does. We can't leave that out -- we can't ignore that. We must become our own guides. I can point to many, many examples when personal intuition has led the healing process.

The doctors and journalists at the conference also tell me that many scientific studies document the connection between feeling states, immunity, and health. Feeling good makes a real difference to improve health. To me, that's just a no-brainer. But why do we believe that when we read it in a study and not believe it when it's in us? I think we need to learn to trust ourselves more. There is medical evidence to support this.

This is where I have to say that I don't believe we are just a body -- or just our mind and feelings. Somehow all of these things are wrapped up together. I don't feel you can separate them. That's the human experience. It's mysterious, yes. But I encourage you all to be open to that. I feel we have to be.

So my new question for you today is: When you realize we're all going to go through something one day, how can we recreate what goes on in health care as a more caring, human experience? When Stephan got his diagnosis, we were just naïve -- we had to find our way.

I believe we need prevention, I know we need self-care, and I also feel that we have to help create a medical system that serves us.

Doctors and nurses need self-care as much as we do. As someone said, "The last thing you want is a stressed out doctor working on you."
But medical staff are human too, and when illness comes, there needs to be that one person that each patient has with them to help navigate their journey.

My husband always said, "Don't forget the nurses, they're the ones who really take care of patients." So I made sure that the nurses helping us were not just technicians, but people who were gifted as healers.

From that experience, I know that nurses are the unsung heroines (and heroes) of medicine. They are there 24/7. They know how to be there unconditionally, how to be present.

At the conference, we had a whole conversation about that which you can read about on health journalist Alison Rose Levy's blog here.
I really love your comments and suggestions about what needs to be done. Check out our website for more info and you can also give us your contact information so we can get you involved.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sticking your neck out for me...

I feed your grey cat everyday, in hopes that you will understand the difference you have made in my lfe.

I am beginning to understand the difference between a tiger and a cat:)

in HIR we are changed
loving you always

9:49 AM, October 02, 2007  

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