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Michael Moore's "Sicko"

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I don't usually do movie reviews, but I have to say something about Michael Moore's latest documentary--Sicko. I want to join in with the rave reviews and recommend this movie to everyone.

Sicko has already become one of the top five grossing documentaries of all time, despite its small initial release. This movie should be mandatory viewing for all members of Congress, who have not only ignored America's healthcare crisis, but have actually made it worse during the Bush years.

" "You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie. [ It leaves audiences feeling] "ashamed to be...a capitalist, and part of a 'me' society instead of a 'we' society."-- BlueCross Vice President of Corporate Communications Barclay Fitzpatrick, in a talking points memo for employees to use against Sicko.

Sicko begins with sampling of the plight of Americans who do not have health insurance, but moves quickly on to the plight of Americans who do have health insurance. You know--the ones who work hard, play by the rules, and think they are safe from health-related financial ruin because they are "covered" by health insurance. Then, when they get sick or injured and expect their insurance to pay, they are introduced to health insurance's fine-print terms such as "pre-approval", pre-existing conditions, preferred providers, experimental procedures, and any one of the thousand other reasons that the Healthcare Industry uses to deny payment. (My personal favorite from Sicko is the twenty-two year old woman whose health insurance refused to pay for her treatment for cervical cancer because they said she was too young to have cervical cancer. How can you argue with logic like that?)

Sicko delivers a not-stop barrage of inconvenient truths, comparing American's healthcare system (or lack of a system) to what is offered in some other nations. In the process, Moore demolishes all of the standard excuses for why Americans would not want a government sponsored "universal" health care (like every other industrialized nation in the world offers its citizens).

According to Sicko:

" There are nearly 50 million Americans without health insurance.

" 18,000 Americans will die this year simply because they're uninsured.

" The United States is ranked #37 as a health system by the World Health Organization even though we spend a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country.

" There are four times as many health care lobbyists as there are members of Congress (2084 health care lobbyists for 535 members of Congress).

" The Drug industry gave $14 million to the eleven members of Congress responsible for negotiating Mr. Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan, which will hand over $800 billion of our tax dollars to the drug and health insurance industry.

" The elderly could end up paying more for their prescription drugs than they did before Mr. Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan was passed.

" The standard charge for a prescription in England is ú6.65 (about $10), and it doesn't matter what the prescription is, or how long it is for.

" In a study of older Americans and Brits, the Brits had less of almost every major disease. Even the poorest Brit can expect to live longer than the richest American.

" A baby born in El Salvador has a better chance of surviving than a baby born in Detroit.

" Canadians live three years longer than we do (Canadians: 80.2 years; Americans: 77.5 years).

" The French live longer than we do too.

" American health care costs run nearly $7,000 per person, while Cuba spends only around $251 per person. Despite this huge discrepancy in spending and America's long-running embargo on medical supplies and equipment to Cuba, Cubans enjoy a longer lifespan and a lower infant mortality rate than the United States.

...and you can believe everything you hear in Sicko, because it has all been carefully fact-checked by CNN. CNN didn't fact-check anything in the run-up to the Iraq War, and they haven't fact-checked anything in the ongoing run-up to war with Iran; but they have made a special point of fact-checking Michael Moore's Sicko. At first, they tried to say that Mr. Moore had "fudged" his facts in Sicko, but after a quick slap up side the head by Moore and a threat to "start looking into the veracity of other reports you have aired on other topics", CNN confirmed that they were mistaken and all of the statistics in Sicko were correct.

Ordinary Americans don't need Sicko to tell them that our healthcare system is screwed up. A Harris Poll in October 2005 found that the 75 percent of the American people wanted the same thing that people in every other industrialized nation has--universal health care.

By almost a two-to-one margin (62 to 33 percent), Americans preferred a universal healthcare system that would provide coverage to everyone (Washinton Post/ABC Poll, Oct. 2003).

A Pew Research Center survey found that 65% of Americans support "government health insurance even if taxes increase." (Pew Research Center, 5/10/05.)

John Conyers (D-MI) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) are co-sponsoring legislation that would create a comprehensive, publicly financed national health insurance program covering everything from dental to emergency care by the physician of the individual's choice.

" "I think the movie is going to rally public support for our bill. It is going to cause people to become aware of the level of suffering," Kucinich said in a Wednesday interview. "In a sense, it is a landmark in documentary filmmaking because it is going to mobilize public support for a change in our health-care system."--Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio 6/21/07

Call your representative today and tell him/her to support the Conyers/Kucinich bill for universal health care--then go see Sicko.

" "The simplicity of 'Sicko's' argument is also its power. It asks us, as Americans, a few basic but haunting questions: Who are we? What have we become? The follow-up question is left unstated: What are we going to do about it? Let's hope "Sicko" helps us come up with the right answer."-- David Ansen, Newsweek, 6/22/07
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Mick Youther is an American citizen, an independent voter, a veteran, a parent, a scientist, a writer, and all-around nice guy who has been roused from a comfortable apathy by the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush Administration.

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