Filmmaker and citizen activist Michael Moore (SiCKO, Bowling for Columbine, Roger and Me, Capitalism: A Love Story) graced Philadelphia last Saturday for a five-year reunion of SiCKO's release, the third-highest grossing documentary ever that revealed the tragedy of under-insurance in the United States. Also assembled were seven of the film's health insurance industry victims (including our own Donna Smith), and two industry whistle-blowers who continue to expose the medical-industrial-complex's profit-first methods of maximum money-making.
In addition to the emotional sagas of PREVENTABLE suffering that continue to this day - 9/11 rescue worker with oxygen tank, parentless teen, widowed spouse, morphing cancers, running battles with insurance companies, medical bankruptcies - Wendell Potter (author of "Deadly Spin") shared his crisis-of-conscience journey to 'industry whistle-blower,' beginning with his former company, CIGNA, assigning him, stealthily, to sneak-preview "SiCKO" in Sacramento and plan the public relations attacks on the movie.
Michael Moore then used story, movie-making insights, and outrage over right-wing bullying and Obama-enabling to illustrate, on the one hand, SiCKO's educational and motivational benefit and, on the other hand, the watered-down Affordable Care Act that the Supreme Court validated last week. At the same time, Michael (and Wendell) chastised single payer activists inclined to look past the significance of corporatist Chief Justice Roberts siding with the Court's more liberal members, and permitting ACA's implementation (minus the force of withholding Medicaid funding for states that refuse to accept ACA minimal health standards).
During a pre-event reception at Healthcare-NOW's William Way Center auditorium, the 300-person public event at Plays and Players Theater (sans air-conditioning on a sticky night!) near Rittenhouse Square, and the day following at our 22-member, 'One Payer States' all-day conference, speaker after speaker, discussant after discussant, emphasized the opportunity presented by ACA's continuing implementation. We need to celebrate (Moore), exploit (Michael Lighty, CA Nurses), understand our challenges, challengers, and potential allies (Brigitte Marti, Dr Carol Ritter, Mark Dudzic, Pennacchio), strategize (Potter), and organize (Francesca Lo Basso, Smith).
Specifically, our best opportunity for translating ACA passage and SCOTUS ruling into universal healthcare is embedded in the national legislation itself. That is, ACA contains provisions for state-based healthcare innovation and funding waivers (can you say "Single Payer six times straight"...six times?), already endorsed by President Obama, embraced by numerous Republicans at all levels of government, and led by Independent Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) and Democratic Representative Jim McDermott (WA) in the United States Congress.
So now it's on us, to build on the week's and weekend's successes, energy, inspiration, and more, to turn ACA into state-based Improved Medicare for All as the next step to achieving true, universal single payer healthcare for each and every person in America. Every body in, no body out.
Onward to the Proven Single Payer Solution.
Chuck Pennacchio, PhD
Co-Founder, One Payer States Network
Chuck Pennacchio, Ph.D. and M.A. (Colorado-Boulder), B.A. (California-Berkeley), is associate professor of history and politics at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia (2003-), co-founder and president of the One Payer States network (more...)