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‘SiCKO’: Michael Moore’s Prescription for Change

Posted on Jun 19, 2007

By Amy Goodman

Michael Moore screened his new film, “SiCKO,” on Father’s Day at a special New York event honoring Sept. 11 first responders. Moore spoke of their heroism and recognized their role in the film. “SiCKO” is about the broken U.S. healthcare system. Case in point: the 9/11 rescue workers.

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    Their stories of selfless courage, followed by years of creeping, chronic illnesses, from pulmonary fibrosis to cancer to post-traumatic stress, often exacerbated by poor or no health insurance, drive home Moore’s point, that the medical/pharmaceutical industry is failing Americans—not only the 40-plus million Americans with no health insurance, but the 250 million Americans who do have health insurance.

    Moore doesn’t like health insurance companies: “They’re the Halliburtons of the health industry. I mean, they really—they get away with murder. They charge whatever they want. There’s no government control. And frankly, we will not really fix our system until we remove these private insurance companies. I mean, they literally have to be eliminated. They cannot be allowed to exist in this country.”

    Unable to get care in the U.S., Moore transports the ailing 9/11 heroes to boats just offshore from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Moore shows clips of congressmen and generals assuring the public that Guantanamo prisoners receive excellent healthcare. Bullhorn in hand, Moore appeals to the Navy for care for the 9/11 responders on board as well. Denied, they make their way to Havana Hospital, where a team of Cuba’s world-renowned doctors administers much-needed treatment. Reggie Cervantes, coughing throughout her interview, is outraged to learn that an inhaler cartridge that she pays $120 for stateside sets her back only five cents in Cuba, and vows to “take back a suitcase full of them.”

    The U.S. Treasury Department is investigating Moore for possible violations of the trade embargo against Cuba (he has sent a copy of his film to Canada for safekeeping).
    When Moore began his film, he put out a call for stories from his website and received more than 25,000 replies. In addition to neglected patients, Moore heard from hundreds of people within the industry blowing the whistle, like Dr. Linda Peeno. She testified before Congress: “I denied a man a necessary operation that would have saved his life and thus caused his death. No person and no group has held me accountable for this. Because, in fact, what I did was I saved a company a half a million dollars with this.”


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    Moore knows that people who organize can fight back and win. “SiCKO” is more than a movie; it’s a movement. The release of the film is being coordinated with an unprecedented, sophisticated, grass-roots action campaign. Oprah Winfrey will hold a town-hall meeting on healthcare. YouTube is calling for people to post videos of their healthcare horror stories, and the California Nurses Association is leading a campaign to get 1 million nurses in the U.S. to see the film. Healthcare-Now! is organizing leafleting and petitioning at all 3,000 theaters where “SiCKO” is debuting; and Physicians for a National Health Program are mobilizing. And Moore himself is heading to New Hampshire to challenge the Democratic presidential candidates.

    “SiCKO” shows how Hillary Clinton tried to reform the healthcare system as first lady. “She was destroyed as a result of it. I mean, they put out I think well over $100 million to fight her. But to jump ahead here with Hillary, in last year’s Congress, she was the second-largest recipient of health industry money. She may be No. 1 at this point, for all I know. It’s very sad to see ... they’re into her pocket, and she’s into their pocket.”

    Moore continued: “By the time of the election, by the primaries, I’m sure all the Democrats are going to be using that word: ‘universal’ coverage. Their plans are going to take our tax dollars and put them into the pockets of these insurance companies. We need to cut out the middleman here. The government can run this program.” This is called a single-payer system.

    Taking on the multibillion-dollar healthcare industry is all in a day’s work for Michael Moore. After several million people see “SiCKO,” the time just might be right for a prescription for change.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 500 stations in North America.

  © 2007 Amy Goodman; distributed by King Features Syndicate

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By Chiropractic, August 22, 2011 at 11:43 pm Link to this comment

One has to be larger than life to take on odds that are heavily stacked against them. Health care is something that for those who need it, they are willing to pay whatever they can for it, and the private health-care industry knows this. Moore has highlighted some of the huge flaws in this system, and it is poignant to know that many Americans are denied access to basic health-care, a basic necessity, even those who have made huge sacrifices for the nation (the 9/11 heroes).

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By cann4ing, June 29, 2007 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment

will s, sorry my friend but “universal health coverage” amounts to a subsidy scheme designed to line the pockets of healthcare insurance industry CEOs.  Private health care insurers account for 31% of the spiraling healthcare costs already, and that percentage of the costs can be anticipated to skyrocket if these bogus subsidy schemes are adopted.  Carriers have one interest—the corporate bottom line.  As an attorney who represents severely injured workers I see the impact of utilization review shemes to deprive people of necessary care.  While some of my clients have been fortunate, in that I exercise a great deal of diligence in overcoming these bogus utilization review denials, the vast number of injured employees are not represented and simply lose out on needed care.  So if it cost the carrier a bit more on those few cases where someone like me takes them on, they more than make up for it in the thousands of cases where their arbitrary denials of necessary medical care go unchallenged.

“Universal coverage”?  No thanks.  I’ll take my chances with a carefully regulated single payer system where decisions are based on medical rather than monetary criteria.  A nation’s health is not a commodity!

For those who agree, there is only one candidate out there who is prepared to fill Michael Moore’s prescription.  His name is Dennis Kucinich.  All the rest are schills for the healthcare insurance industry.

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By will s, June 29, 2007 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I wish everyone would stop assuming that universal health care is equal to single payer health care. It is not!

In Germany, there is a two-and-a-half tier system of health care delivery. There is first the distinction between private health insurance and non-private health insurance. Private health insurance is basically the same as here in the U.S. The insurer is free to charge what he wishes and the purchaser can choose his coverage as he likes. The caveat is that in order to purchase private health insurance, you must have a certain minimum yearly income, the level of which is set by the government. When I was there a few years ago, the minimum was approximately €80,000 per year. If you earn more than that - you may purchase private insurance, if you earn less than that, you may not. Private health insurance in Germany is better than non-private in almost every way: front-of-the-line treatment by doctors, private hospital rooms, better coverage, etc. The downside is once you move into private insurance, you have to stick with it forever - even if your health deteriorates or you get old - either of which will send your premiums skyrocketing of course. As a privately insured individual, you may return to the non-private insurance system only if you are broke.

Most Germans don’t earn enough to purchase private insurance, so they are in what I call the “non-private” system. I don’t call it public insurance, because it isn’t. Non-private insurers in Germany operate like credit unions in the U.S. They are medical co-operatives that pool health-related risk. There are many hundreds of these organizations. Any given individual will qualify for several of these medical co-operatives based on their profession, home address, religious affilation, etc., in much the same way that people qualify to join various credit unions here. You pick an insurance provider from among the co-operatives for which you qualify. You can choose based on coverage, rates (which may vary within certain boundaries), perceived “goodness” (usually related to how much they pay doctors - and therefore how much doctors like people covered by that co-operative), etc. Premiums in these medical co-operatives are based on a percentage of your salary, and deducted like payroll taxes - but they are not taxes: the money goes to your provider, not to the government. The higher your salary, the higher percentage you pay as your insurance premium - up until the above mentioned private health insurance minimum. When you earn more than that, the percentage of salary charged as a premium stays constant. This is to encourage people to stay in the non-private system even though they could afford private insurance. Medical services for non-privately insured people are basically “free” at the point of service, but there is a co-pay of €10 to discourage frivolous doctor visits encouraged by completely “free” health care.

German health care provides universal coverage by making membership in the local government’s medical co-operative available to people who don’t have jobs, income, etc. Their premiums are paid by the government as a social welfare benefit.

By introducing a measure of market economics to their health care system, Germany provides universal care without the typical waiting lists and rationing that are a common feature of all socialist economic systems. In fact, German newspapers often run articles on the horrors of medical care in the British NHS - the awful stories that Michael Moore doesn’t want to talk about, but that are all too common in Britain, but almost completely unknown in Germany.

In short, Universal Coverage: YES! Single Payer: NO!

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By cann4ing, June 24, 2007 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

More right-wing drivel from Marshall.

Big Pharma is not capitalist, in the free market sense.  They are capitalist in the crony capitalist sense.  They are a licensed monopoly enterprises that rely on a whole lot of government assistance in insuring that they can maintain vastly inflated products and avoid meaningful regulation even from the FDA which is supposed to protect us from their recklessly marketed products.  These include the less than invisible hand of government insuring that (a) Medicare cannot bargain for bulk rate prices; (b) Americans cannot purchase the same medications from Canada where they are available at a fraction of the cost.

From bailouts for S&Ls;, to subsidies for Big Ag, the oil industry, to no bid contracts for KBR, Bechtel & Blackwater, laissez faire is a myth.  Bush takes care of his “base”—“the haves and have mores.”  The so-called “free market” is left for the suckers.

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By great_satan, June 24, 2007 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment

  It is a good question.
  Anyone can grow and distribute herbs. They are cheaper than pharmaceuticals, (in general,) so why invest in an industry that might undermine those of the lucrative branches of your conglomerate.
  Likewise, it would be too easy for smaller companies to rise to compete with larger companies. I doubt that, even if one has the capital, it would be an easy process to begin a smaller pharmaceutical company. One word, “patents.”
  Even African nations have met with crazy obstacles in trying to manufacture their own AIDS drugs for public distribution. Why? Patents.

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By Marshall, June 24, 2007 at 5:32 pm Link to this comment

#81007 by dialecticks on 6/24 at 3:47 pm

<<the alternative medicine movement has become less and less viable as it has grown into a multi billion dollar industry>>

This is a capitalistic economy.  It’d be a lot easier for the pharm industry to join that movement than to fight it.  Why would they not want a piece of that action?

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By great_satan, June 24, 2007 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment

#81002 by Ernest Canning
  I agree. The current legislation against alternative medicine is obviously pushed by Pharm industry.
  Likewise the alternative medicine movement has become less and less viable as it has grown into a multi billion dollar industry. Rather than acting within the knowledge of a traditional system, most consumers of herbal medicine are just buying naively and subscribing to fad crazes.
  None the less, the right to care for yourself under your own will is just as important as socializing conventional medicine. Both undermine the profits of big business medicine.

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By cann4ing, June 24, 2007 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment

dialectics, until the profit motive is removed, “individual power” in healthcare decisions is out of reach for all but a wealthy few.

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By great_satan, June 24, 2007 at 4:10 pm Link to this comment

What is NOT being discussed in the health care debate?
  The debate rages between privatized and socialized health care, but meanwhile the individual’s power over his or her own health is being utterly undermined.

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By Ron, June 24, 2007 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

Hello everyone. I hope this comment finds all of you well.

I appreciate the thrust of this dialogue. All of you have tremendous contributions, providing facts and statistics on the health care crisis in this country.

But at the end of the day, it is action we must take.

We cannot rely upon the government to give what we as citizens can and need to give to ourselves. Historically, it is we at the grassroots level who have cared for our own communities. Everything from food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, to safety and protection have been taken up by the people not only out of a sense of community, but out of necessity.

And it is paramount we continue that tradition.

We all have people in our family, friend, or associate circles who suffered or are suffering as a result of this health care system failures and/or neglects. The question becomes, what can we do?

The Black Panther Party was known for their free clinics in the 60’s. They also created free breakfast programs for children, which is something we desperately need here in Baltimore City, because years ago the school breakfast program was eliminated.

Now we have a crisis because many children are living in dysfunctional families, and as a result, are going to school hungry. And what do they do to supplement? Sugar. They buy junk food and drink sodas from the corner store, which means they can’t concentrate and are disruptive in class, and they engage in violent behavior. A couple of my family members are teachers in one of our high schools, and I have taught in an after school program, and I’ll tell you, it breaks our hearts to witness this.

There are many citizens as a result who have created outreach and advocacy programs for youth, including juvenile offenders, and others who are deemed at-risk. They survive on private donations and out of pocket funding, but of course, it is never enough.

I know some of you have read about our drug epidemic. We are leading in heroin addiction. This is also a health care crisis, because not only are individuals dying, but families are destroyed in the process. Addictions are also leading to a high number of sexually transmitted diseases, and the public and community health clinics are overflowing. This same crisis applies to our local prison population.

As an artist, activist, and teacher, I try do what I can. Through RAM, the performance collective of which I am a member, and other collectives like Red Emma’s (, we help to raise funds and support for unions and organizations like the International Workers of the World and The United Workers of America. One of my new roles very shortly will be funding and developing sustainable youth communities here in Baltimore, in an effort to save our youth.

But frankly, for me I feel there’s more that I need to do.

There are things we can do as citizens, at the grassroots level. For example, creating community gardens for the purposes of growing our own food. Creating free community clinics. Creating a network for our senior citizens so they don’t consistently fall through the cracks. Partnering with holistic health practitioners so we are not subjecting ourselves to toxic synthetic drugs, and doctors who engage in malpractice or misdiagnosis.

I encourage everyone, to the extent that they can, get involved. Help to organize within your respective communities, so that you can be assured a difference is being made. We all need to have a sense of urgency, because left up to this government, we will continue to suffer and die.

Take care, and many blessings to you and yours.

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By Janus, June 24, 2007 at 6:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

80758 from Mr.Canning:

Thanks for your further advice about this tragic personal injury case.The verdict potential in a grievous case like this one ought not be limited by unrealistic statutory “reforms.”  Appellate review is always available in those cases ending with runaway jury verdicts against corporate defendants, but the hard-working lobbyists and their client insurance companies have succeeded in many States in making life and tilted playing fields much better for them in claims and litigation: Premiums and investment income good; payouts bad.

Your observation:
“When you hear the word “reform” (e.g. tort reform, Medicare prescription drug reform, Social Security reform) coming from the mouth of a Republican, grab hold of your wallet.  Your pocket is about to be picked.”

Agreed.  Ralph Nader aptly calls so-called reform statutes capping damages in tort cases “tort deform.”

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By Marshall, June 23, 2007 at 5:49 pm Link to this comment

For those here truly interested in an actual debate of how to reform the US healthcare system and a serious discussion of Moore’s points, please listen to this public radio show that deals with the topic at:

Click on the word “Listen”.

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By Marshall, June 23, 2007 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

“Are you surprised that the link that you provided from the CDC, does not include deaths caused by medical care, FDA approved drugs or medical malpractice?  Do you understand that the powerful drug and medical industries don’t want the public to have easy access to this information?”

1) I think the question is not whether I “understand” this, it’s whether I “believe” this.  There are obviously several conflicting sets of data.  When I’m faced with such a situation, I don’t assume that I know which is accurate, though the burden of proof is certainly on the less accepted one.  Can you explain how you know that the data you cite is reliable and the CDC data is not, aside from your assumption that the “drug and medical industries” don’t want us to have access to the “correct” data?  That’s my question to you.

2) Can you define the term “iatrogenic”?  There seems to be quite the controversy about its meaning - not exactly a solid grounding upon which to base scientific conclusions.

3) And again - I saw no information comparing your statistics to those of other countries.  Your conspiracy theory about the industry cover up would have to include them as participants as well or it doesn’t exactly hold up.

4) I’m not clear on your explanation of the inconsistencies between the “leading cause of death” JAMA report I cited and the CDC data.  Are you saying that they are NOT inconsistent because the JAMA report was classifying smoking as a cause of death rather than classifying its affects as such?

#80432 by Ernest Canning on 6/22 at 8:15 am

Earnest - It was I who posted the CDC data to begin with.  Presumably, Lefty was excerpting it to illustrate his contention that it omits “iatrogenic” causes of death.

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By cann4ing, June 23, 2007 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

Janus, actually the malpractice action was resolved long before I began handling the workers’ compensation end of the file.  My client’s damages in the malpractice action were severely limited under MICRA, which was a California initiative that limits general damages in such actions to $200,000 and permits the insurance carrier for a negligent medical provider to reduce the special damages by the monies paid directly by the employer for medical care and temporary disability, which limits the amount the employee from can recover from the negligent provider’s carrier for lost earnings.  In fact, while, in a case like this, provider negligence greatly expands what an employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier has to pay for the injury, the employer/workers’ comp. carrier have no right to recover any of those expenses from the negligent provider.  (Note:  In a run of the mill hernia case, we are talking a few thousand dollars.  A life care plan in this case estimates that my client’s medical care over his life time will exceed $4.7 million.)

When you hear the word “reform” (e.g. tort reform, Medicare prescription drug reform, Social Security reform) coming from the mouth of a Republican, grab hold of your wallet.  Your pocket is about to be picked.

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By Janus, June 23, 2007 at 6:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

80549 by Ernest Canning on 6/22 at 3:17 pm

Thanks for your reply.  What an incredible case it is beginning as it does with an ordinary hernia case and ending with quadruple amputations.  It occurred to me that you probably explored the possibility of a malpractice action against those responsible for his care. It is beyond belief that the medical profession could explain that this result was within the ordinary though rare risks associated with state of the art practice in treating a hernia, including post-operative care.  Worse, the early signs of gangrene—-in all four extremeities—- obviously went undetected in his post-operative care. What an outrageous event!

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By cann4ing, June 22, 2007 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

What has just occurred in California typifies the triangulation between Republicans and the corporate wing of the Democratic party when faced with a meaningful effort to change corrupt corporate practices. 

Within a week of the powerful Sacramento presentation by Michael Moore and the California Nurse’s Association in support of a bill by California State Senator Sheila Kuehls that would eliminate the grubby, money-grabbing and thoroughly unnecessary middle-man, also known as the healthcare insurance industry, replacing it with a single-payer system, Arnold Schwarzenneger joined forces with two corporatists who have posed as Democrats, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perota to advance a bill that would mandate that all California employers, no matter how small, spend 7.5% of their payroll on healthcare benefits and further mandate employees accept and pay for their share of premiums for an offered insurance plan.

We deal with an insurance industry that already captures 31% of the spiraling healthcare costs in this country, and these three clowns now want to guarantee that the carriers grab even more by forcing people who are barely getting by to pay for insurance.  And the call it “reform”?

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By cann4ing, June 22, 2007 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

Janus:  Actually, the injury started out as a simple hernia.  My client acquired a MRSA infection during surgery but didn’t know it until six weeks later.  By that time he had developed a sepsis.  While in the hospital, his extremities turned gangrenous.  They had to amputate all four to save his life.

My client is actually one of the most remarkable individuals I have ever met.  He was told he couldn’t be fitted for lower extremity prosthetics because the amputations were above the knee.  He wouldn’t accept that.  First time I met him, he came stomping down the hallway to my office.  Better get out of his way when he gets moving.  He had two hooks for hands, but has the most beautiful, flowing cursive I have ever seen.

The reason he needed the massage therapy was because he will peck away at his computer for five to ten minutes at a time.  Because he has no arms, he can’t rest his prosthetics like you and I rest our arms when we type.  So he uses muscles in his back that you and I would scarsely know were there.  He uses massage therapy to reduce his dependence on narcotic medications.  Yet the carrier didn’t want to provide it, so I had to force them by taking the issue to trial.  The case is within the workers’ compensation system, so it really doesn’t take all that long to get to trial, but the real issue is why a carrier, any carrier, would resist such obviously needed treatment.  Say the word “Money” and you win the prize.

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By MAR, June 22, 2007 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tim is on the wrong track, I think.

He says:

“Finally, if Michael Moore is right, why can’t he suggest ANY numbers - ANY - that show an increase in Canadian, French, English or Cuban health-care registrations at the expense of American ones?  The exact opposite is true.  As of 2004, health procedures of Canadian, French, English and Cuban nationals in the United States have outnumbered expatriate procedures for Americans in those countries.”

“Universal health care is a wonderful thing.  If you’re gonna get it, you’re gonna be socialistic and take from some to give to others.  PERIOD.  It’s a tough thing, but many people don’t believe that the best way to deal with a problem is to take from some to give to others.  Life is hard, not fair.”

Registration of foreign nationals is irrelevant. Canadians cannot carry their coverage to the US at US prices but only what the home plan will cover. (I quoted $40,000 for a radical prostate procedure in the US versus $4000 in Canada. Obviously most line items will be more expensive in the US. If not, why do US residents line up to buy Canadian pharmaceuticals, even over the counter items such as Tylenol with codeine? Data some years old, there are now procedures that make radical operation less desirable.) Canadians in the US must sign up to private plans as they lose their eligibility here after three months, longer in some circumstances. No American is eligible for funding under our system until they are a citizen of Canada or a “landed immigrant” - and there is an increasing number of those.  In Canada and most other so-called “socialized” national or provincial (state) systems access is by eligibility. To enter the Canadian system you must be a Canadian citizen resident in the specific province for three months - a lesser time means the province from which one moved is responsible to national standards.

I don’t know about other jurisdictions; our national system is socialistic only in your eyes. Your approach is self-interested to the point of selfishness.  The main point in establishing the programs was funding and access, not control of professional disciplines or interference between doctor or patient as in Britain. Inevitably, as costs and baby boomers stress the system there must be cost controls and there will be a temptation to shorten up on service or introduce some form of user pay and usage. That will be accommodated in the US by people receiving no care or substandard care if they can’t afford insurance or are i0neligible.  But that is counter-productive as it hinders first access to the GP level which is vital. The US approach to medicine is, I fear “I’m all right Jack, who cares about anyone else?”  And that applies to both patients and doctors. 

As to the government taking from one to give to the other, does that mean the US government is “socialistic” in taking money from all to wage stupid and pointess wars in Viet Nam and Iraq II? That certainly funnels vast amounts from the citizenry to other social classes. And for what?  Johnson and Bush lies; in the first instance in effectiveness and in the second as to motivation to start it in the first place. Save us from that! 

Health care should really be treated as a utility of benefit in the sense of human capital to the whole nation, like education.  I don’t envy Bill Gates billions but I feel for the millions that are are left out. 

As long as the system is profit-oriented a great number of patients will suffer, although the wealthy will ride high. Here, where much of their education is at taxpayer’s expense, they desert the ship attracted by high incomes in the US. I say good riddance.

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By Janus, June 22, 2007 at 9:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ernest Canning says this in part this morning, June 22:

“As an attorney who represents severely injured workers, I have to deal daily with insurance companies and their utilization review scams.  I represent an individual who has lost both arms and both legs.  I had to proceed to a full-blown trial just to get the man massage therapy.”

This is a little off topic, but I couldn’t resist asking this:  What was the nature of the industrial accident that resulted in these extraordinarily horrendous injuries?  I hope that your Court was not one of the many with a clogged calendar that unreasonably delays for too long the reaching of a trial, especially a trial involving this magnitude of permanent disability to the plaintiff. Perhaps you were able to advance it under the circumstances.

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By great_satan, June 22, 2007 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

Says LooneyLeft Wrong:

“#80078 by looneyleft wrong on 6/21 at 11:07 am
(Unregistered commenter)

Government healt hcare. If the gov runs our health care look out!  They will also tell you what you can eat, drink and about everything else. So much for pro choise.  Don’t you libs see that?”

  Yeah. The next thing you know those commie pinkos will actually be educating people on proper diet and preventative medicine. They might even start feeding public school kids nutritious food!!!
  Hmmm. Watch out for giving good ideas to the evil lefties. A universal health care plan would go nicely with a heavy tax on junk food, fast food, pork and red meat, cigs and liquor. Golly, we could even give tax breaks to people who are physically fit!!! Tax ‘em by the pound!!!

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By cann4ing, June 22, 2007 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

Lefty, other than the Israel/Palestine conflict I have found that there are a number of issues on which we agree.  Kudos for your excellent posting of the factual content of the CDC report in response to the ubiquetous Marshall.

As an attorney who represents severely injured workers, I have to deal daily with insurance companies and their utilization review scams.  I represent an individual who has lost both arms and both legs.  I had to proceed to a full-blown trial just to get the man massage therapy.

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By Janus, June 22, 2007 at 7:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Says LooneyLeft Wrong:

“#80078 by looneyleft wrong on 6/21 at 11:07 am
(Unregistered commenter)

Government healt hcare. If the gov runs our health care look out!  They will also tell you what you can eat, drink and about everything else. So much for pro choise.  Don’t you libs see that?”

I think “the libs” see more about you in your post than you intended.  According to your bilge:  “To hell with universal health care, just let ‘em all with no benefits at work or unable to afford the premiums because of their modest wages fend for themselves, even if their lives are at stake.”

So, what name in rejoinder can we attach to the likes of you?  Are you a genuine, self-absorbed, indifferent fascistic right-winger who delights in seeing unions destroyed and safety-net statutes shredded and in endorsing bigger and wholly underserved tax cuts for your plutocratic pals?  Or are you more likely just another Dupe, perhaps a flag-waving Bible-thumper, who thinks Jesus is running the Country through the Cheney-Bush White House and struggling against “big gummint” programs except welfare programs benefitting both the multi-national corporations and those who are worth at least one million dollars?

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By Marshall, June 21, 2007 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment

#80165 by Lefty on 6/21 at 2:59 pm

Lefty - I don’t know what to tell you on that.  The article you quote if from 2000, and the figures I quoted are 2000 (also JAMA) and 2004 (CDC) and neither mentions errors as a leading cause of death.  Obviously, this is a highly controversial issue whose studies result in a wide variety of estimates.  Even the article you quote says that the health care system “also may” contribute to poor health through its adverse effects.  That doesn’t sound too certain.

I also saw no reference to anything indicating the error rates in the US are any worse than elsewhere, which I assume would be the point of your post.

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By cann4ing, June 21, 2007 at 10:23 pm Link to this comment

Well, Chas, at least in answering my question you acknowledge that you are a “right-wing, religious nut case.”  That’s about the only thing on which we will ever agree.

Since you appear to be one of the remaining 22% of Americans who still appear to support the religious zealot in the White House, I really don’t think we are in need of your vote.

Now do us all a favor and go away!

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By uns8ed, June 21, 2007 at 9:37 pm Link to this comment

Party of one - your table’s ready.
1) Two words - Ted Haggard - that’s one of your guys no?
2)rednecks aren’t required to be progressive - the world needs idiots.
3)I missed the Satan worship memo, perhaps you can forward the email.  Or was that an Ann Coulter event?
4)Sounds like some major personal issues you need to work through.
5)I agree
6)Your party won’t like this argument; pharmeceutical companies are on your payroll
7)Regulations are there to keep us safe.  Do you not regulate your kids? are there not consequences for noncompliance?
8)You. Are. So. Simple. Minded.
9)Our country is secular - we have freedom from religion. 
10) Owe you an apology? Who the fuck are you? The republicans are the tax and spend, spend, spend party.  Only they only spend the $$$ back to their friends - the pharmeceutical companies.  How can they get more $$$ to Haliburton, Bechtel, et al? Military defense contracts! Meanwhile, they prey on the you simple minded folk who pray that they won’t go to hell because they don’t hate queers enough for them.  Read the 10 points of facism - and try and point one, just one out that the republicans didn’t use after 9/11.

The truth is - republicans mess shit up, democrats get elected to fix it, and we fix it so well that they start spouting hate messsages again so the vote goes repub, then they get a chance to steal more $$$ and then we get back in.  It’s an annoying cycle.

My proposal - bring back the Civil War.  Let’s agree to disagree.  You can live on your republican side of the country and I’ll live in mine.  I’ll pay taxes, but I’ll have clean air, good schools, guaranteed health care, a living wage, mercury-free water, etc.  But when your privatized fire department doesn’t come to to put out your house fire, when your neighbor’s child gets hurt on a carnival ride because there are no regulations, and then can’t afford the medical care needed, when your world is full of Pro-Life but unwanted children who WILL want to rob you for drug money because there is no hope for any future - well then you can help them - because “Who could possibly oppose saving the children?”

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By cann4ing, June 21, 2007 at 7:07 pm Link to this comment

Chas, what makes you think that Democrats want to reach out to a right-wing religious nut-case like you?

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By cann4ing, June 21, 2007 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment

Michael Moore has endorced the Conyers-Kucinich single-payer health care plan.

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By chas, June 21, 2007 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If the Democrats want to reach out and touch me and even get my vote this is what they need to do. I’m a conservative at every level, who’s not going to just get over being a social conservative; I’m part of the redneck religious right that stopped voting for Democrats. Okay, I’ll show my willingness to come to the negotiating table. I will even vote for their free socialized medicine for everyone and free prescription drugs for everyone in the US, if Democrats can meet the following conditions:

1) They must admit as a direct result of their progressive policies, especially in the parts of the country they politically dominate, they have stripped every reference to God, traditional religion, traditional; family, and patriotism out of the education system and the rest of our public life, has stripped everyone of everything that gave meaning and order to lives. This progress is a total failure, that has made our country Godless and drifting into despair and anarchy.

2) They must admit rednecks are right about not wanting to go down the road of progress, and they must stop dragging the rest of the country down to the level of the freedom enjoyed by Los Angeles, Detroit, and New Orleans, etc.

3) They must agree to forever end their big lie that nothing of God can be imposed, but everything of Satan can be imposed, and stop imposing their apostasy on the rest of us.

4) They must admit their policies have resulted in a nightmare epidemic of diseases, mental health problems, addictions and chemical dependencies, feminization of men, honoring victims and cowards rather than heroes, honoring perverts rather than holy men, social anarchy, and despair at every level of society.

5) They must admit this has resulted in the desperate need for the government to accept their responsibility for the damage their policies have done to everyone.

6) They must ban all psychologists and admit their only function is get rich, helping people adjust to living in a Godless society, normalizing every behavior that that spread disease. They must ban all abortion providers. They must ban all ACLU members.

7) They must provide free health care and prescription drugs for everyone in lieu of being sued for damages by all the people. Democrats must admit they are guilty of being on a lifelong crusade to change the world. They have to fix what they messed up, providing treatment to everyone because they have harmed everyone.

8) They must reverse the cause of all these problems by restoring God, traditional religion and family, and patriotism, to every level of the education system and every other part of our society, the way they were imposed for the first 150 years of US history.

9) They must stop their anti-Christ life long crusade to change the world and must restore our God given right to free exercise of religion.

10) They must apologize to me because my entire lifetime they have taxed me heavily to pay for their big government salaries they received imposing atheism on everyone, destroying my country. One way or another I will be forced to pay for their mess to be cleaned up either by higher health insurance or by higher taxes. I won’t defend Doctor’s constitutional rights because they ignored Christians being stripped of their constitutional rights. Socialized medicine, with these qualifications has a chance to stop the progress and show compassion to those damaged by it.   

Maybe I’ll go out and start campaigning for them with this message. It’s really the humane thing to do considering our future; everyone will need so much medical treatment, like anti-psychotic drugs, addiction recovery, and emergency room treatment, especially the children.  Who could possibly oppose saving the children? smile

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By cann4ing, June 21, 2007 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment

Tim is obviously a typical Republican.  As Moore so astutely noted, Republicans spend all their time telling us how inefficient government is, then set out to prove it once they are elected and placed in control of the government.

A government is as good or as bad as the people who control it.  In a truly democratic society, government serves the interest of all the people.  Under the right wing’s world view, government is only there to enrich the few at the expense of the many. 

Two recent examples of the so-called “efficiency” of private enterprise—Iraq, New Orleans!

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By great_satan, June 21, 2007 at 4:28 pm Link to this comment

The health care delimma is just indicative of the failure of the US (as a general political entity) to be adaptive and learn anything from other systems.
  There is this “greatest country in the world” arrogance that is at fault. The US is so set on bringing their way to the whole world, like it or not, that ‘we’ fail to simply look at how someone else does it and do it that way.
  Socialism is such a nasty word with all sorts of “Americans, from the neo-cons, to independent conservatives to libertarians. Its this ideology that keeps us from simply adapting what works outright in European countries to our needs.
  But the neo-cons insist we have this “special role in the world,” meaning we have to spend all of our money on war. The Europeans got their advantage during the cold war years by having the US “protect” them from the possible domination of the USSR. Minimal defense spending means maximum money for their own infrastructure. Being in a balanced state between the USSR and the US, they were also able to use their leverage against the US and apply much socialistic measures which say South American countries couldn’t get away with.
  In post cold war, the neo-cons say we must “capitalize on the success of the past administrations.” They mean emphasize military dominance over all else and spend even more on war. They admit this openly.
  Its crazy. Capitalizing on the end of the cold war means we have the opportunity to put that energy into the quality of life in our own country.
  Government run medicine would be worse than privatized medicine. Possibly, but only because the US would feel the need to reinvent the whole thing rather than just emulate European nations.
    So long as we have that “the world copies us, we don’t emulate anyone else” philosophy at he base of our political paradigm, we’re just gonna sink deeper and deeper into the pit.

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By Marshall, June 21, 2007 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment

Tim - you’ve got good points and represent the free market argument for health insurance.  I think your argument is that however bad private health care is, government health care would be worse.  There may be truth to this, but the US does spend more per-capita on health care than any other country by far.  It’s clear that a great deal of this is due to the high administrative costs of the US system being a hodge-podge of coverages, insurers, plans, care givers as well as the high number of uninsured who incur higher costs due to lack of preventive care or delayed (or missed) treatment.

The real issue then is how to bring these costs down without socializing the system.  If there is a way, I’d like to hear a debate about it.

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By looneyleft wrong, June 21, 2007 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Government healt hcare. If the gov runs our health care look out!  They will also tell you what you can eat, drink and about everything else. So much for pro choise.  Don’t you libs see that?

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By Dale Headley, June 21, 2007 at 11:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A great American hero!!!

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By Tim, June 21, 2007 at 7:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Canada has 12 MRIs nation-wide, 3 or 4 available for ongoing patient care as of 2004, America has over 1000.

“We need to cut out the middleman here. The government can run this program.”

Anyone who seriously believes the government has run ANYTHING well needs to stand inline at a Motor Vehicle Department, file an OSHA request, or read a CAFE standard or their taxes.

Although I personally hate insurance companies, they are the sine-qua-non of supply and demand: they provide a service judging risk versus reward and allow people to VOLUNTARILY participate, except in certain states where a legislature bolsters them by fiat.

Michael Moore has admitted that his “documentaries” are politically motivated and engineered (a polite way of saying “faked”.)  Why do you still quote this guy?

Universal health care is a wonderful thing.  If you’re gonna get it, you’re gonna be socialistic and take from some to give to others.  PERIOD.  It’s a tough thing, but many people don’t believe that the best way to deal with a problem is to take from some to give to others.  Life is hard, not fair.

I have a friend who is a nurse and she really believes changes can be made to health care.  I agree.  But Michael Moore and Hillary, who will screech and showboat, are little pieces of puss on the body-politic.  They complain and rail without due consideration of the money, technology, economics and real human values inherent in the dialogue.

I smoke.  I don’t have health care.  And I’m not gonna ask you to pay my medical bill.  I *will* show up at the emergency ward if I break my wrist or have a heart attack.  Then, I’ll pay my bill.  Ok?

If that bill is too high, let’s examine why that is, not immediately assume government or a politician can make it better.  Personally, I am convinced that government has made health care costs higher.

Finally, if Michael Moore is right, why can’t he suggest ANY numbers - ANY - that show an increase in Canadian, French, English or Cuban health-care registrations at the expense of American ones?  The exact opposite is true.  As of 2004, health procedures of Canadian, French, English and Cuban nationals in the United States have outnumbered expatriate procedures for Americans in those countries.

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By Debra Istvanik-Strotman, June 20, 2007 at 11:56 pm Link to this comment

Take away free health-care for government, starting with the president and watch how quickly these clowns start crying.
I received a rather nasty note from a doctor in the UK, telling me “Americans’ should take care of their own.” He said he was a cancer specialist and had atleast six and often more americans begging him to treat their cancer, as they were turned away in America once it was known the person couldn’t afford the treatment. Though I thought the doctor was rude, and never said whether he treated the american’s asking for help,I did not writeback, as he was correct.

Insurance companies dictate to doctors what tests they can perform, how much time they can spend with a patient, what medications can be written and on top of that the doctor’s office is inundated with an unbelievable amount of paper work from the insurance company.
Why should a doctor have to call and argue with an insurance company to get a medication or treatment for his patient. Makes you wonder who went to medical school. And shouldn’t the people working for the insurance company be charged for practicing medicine without a license.

With the amount of federal and state taxes we pay there is no reason for us not to have access to free medical. Get rid of insurance companies, their lobbyist, all the paper work and the price would come down.

If we don’t stop put a stop to insurance companies and the politicians that are in the pockets of these companies the only people that will be well in United States will be the wealthy.

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By RAE, June 20, 2007 at 8:19 pm Link to this comment

Ernest Canning wrote: “He then said something interesting—that his pay is based on the job he does.  “If I get more of my patients to stop smoking this year or if I bring their cholesterol down…, I’ll make more money.”“

Precisely! Reminded me that a long time ago someone reported that in China, doctors don’t get paid when a patient is ILL… the doctor only gets paid when the patient is WELL!

Wouldn’t you rather pay your doctor for keeping you from illness and disability than to pay him/her to try to make you well again? I would.

Now if that isn’t an incentive for both doctors and Big Pharma to bust their asses to keep us WELL I don’t know what is.

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By peedeecee, June 20, 2007 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

Thanks for explaining our healthcare system perfectly, Mar. Well done!

The only thing I will add is this: while (as you state) there are wait times for certain procedures, our system functions very well on a triage basis. Three years ago an EKG showed some problems with my heart. I had very sophisticated additional tests done in less than a week, and was on medication within 10 days. I challenge any other country to do better than that.

I’m near total recovery, by the way, and it has cost me nothing other than medications, the costs of which are also capped in Canada. Although I’m comfortably well-off and could afford private healthcare insurance, I would not change our system for anything. It makes for a stronger, fairer society.

Lucky me.

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By MAR, June 20, 2007 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Final added comments.  In my opinion the U.S. system is the result of greed of doctors and the insurance company shareholders, made possible by the US constitutional and political realities and system and the power of lobbies.  Left to their own, Canadian doctors in a private hospital system would be not much different. The difference is that Canadian governments bit the bullet thirty to forty years ago. I would hate to be uninsured in the US.  Once procedure of mine would have cost $40,000 in the state of Washington. In my jurisdiction the doctor billed the plan for the approved schedule fee of $4000. Of course, there were other visit charges in both cases. The hospital bill for thirty days (due to complications) in the US would have been astronomical. I paid only for TY and bedside phone.
So who pays? Society, through the tax system. Our income axes are necessarily higher in Canada than the US. But the cost is spread to all society. In that sense, I suppose the system could be considered “socialized.” But all patients are treated the same.  This is what galls the rich who want to bypass the rest of society. 

But I emphasize that medicine in Canada is not “socialized” in the sense it is in Britain and Europe. It is a carefully crafted system of public ownership, public funding and public care standards. The medical associations and hospital associations have the same high standards of accreditation separate from government intervention.  It masquerades as a normal system, in that patient dignity is preserved by   relations with the system being at arm’s length, e.g. a welfare patient is not known as such and receives the same trip as the wealthiest.

Eventually the system will have to come to grips with the expensive care for the growing elderly population   . Society may have to deal with cost-effectiveness compared to treating economic earners of society as well as youth who have a future. They do the same in the US by just letting the elderly, the uninsured and the poor suffer and die unless they qualify for “Medicare” in which case they are treated as second-class citizens.  Not so in Canada so far. 
The greed and selfishness of the rich in pursuing private diagnostic and surgical care at any price to the system threatens to result in a two-tier system, one which the voting majority of Canadians will ultimately not allow at the ballot box. 

The other side of the coin, doctors hospitals and labs which once used to writeoff 15% to 20% of bills as bad debts, now get paid for everything on the fee schedule.  There may be some pro bono on uncovered items. 

As well as the care by provincial plans, some people have supplementary private “extended” plans that pay for uncovered items such as first cost of pharmaceuticals, vision aids, hearing tests and aids crutches and other equipment. My plan will even buy and maintain an oxygen generator when medically required rather than rent one. It pays for hearing aids and spectacles up to certain limits. And so on.

The major point is that all Canadians are insured in the public plan against the most expensive costs. As the system is further stressed by the baby boomers, it may be necessary to introduce some measure of self pay, but with complete coverage for financially catastrophic cases. Whatever,it will still be much better than the US. For example in my jurisdiction it costs me $64 monthly for medical insurance premiums (doctor and outpatient lab and xray)  half of which is paid as a retirement benefit by my former employer. After the deductible for pharmaceuticals (in my case $1000) all but 10% is covered by the provincial plan. My extended health plan cuts in at a $25 deductible - a retirement benefit.

The motto for Americans should be “stay healthy” but what I read of self-induced obesity and lousy eating and exercise habits at all ages shows that there is no such thing as common sense.

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By MAR, June 20, 2007 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I should add a few key comments to my previous post.

  Hospitals in Canada are predominantly publicly owned by the provinces by virtue of increasing equity due to new buildings, upgrades, etc. There are in some jurisdictions private “hospitals” which are really long-term care (nursing homes, in fact)  but where daily rates for public services are tightly controlled by government.  A few have remaining equities for land due religious organizations.  Fifty percent of the original health funding (capital and operating)  was borne by the Federal tax bag on a dollar per dollar basis but that changed several years to a bulk cost share which is declining all the time. Consequently the federal influence is declining as well, leaving provinces to try more individualistic solutions such as regional health authorities - but at the bottom their funds are controlled by the Ministry of Health and subject to public opinion. 

Second, in the US, insurance companies control their costs by denying service wherever possible, In Canada, fee schedules for professionals are negotiated between the Medical Associations and the government or health authority (according to each jurisdiction.) In Canada health jurisdiction is constitutionally with the provinces although the Feds co-ordinate national standards legislation and equalization funding across the country by virtue of a particular clause in the constitution. Their control however is mainly through the leverage of funding, now in the decline as far as the Feds are concerned. Consequently it is a not-for-profit system where costs are controlled, although there is pressure from Med Associations and unions for increases. Labor of all kinds accounts for 70% to 80% of the system costs, so the key is to control doctors’ fees and union bargaining results as much as possible.

Another point, in American hospitals costing is per unit item i.e every pill and procedure. In Canada, costing is average cost per patient bed day which determines the overall hospital budget. So the hospital is reimbursed the same for a day of open heart as an ingrown toenail. The patient’s dignity is preserved by arm’s length funding. In most provinces, persons who cannot pay (income) for medical or hospital insurance or pharmaceuticals are completely funded via the welfare system for premiums but their care is no different from the richest patient. The pressure on the system is from rich patients who want to bypass the public system and they do that by going to the US or other jurisdictions and pay the going freight.

In my jurisdiction, control by the Ministry of Health has been substituted by a system of regional health authorities which have drastically reduced beds and services in some areas requiring patients to travel further and in some cases to wait longer. There is a system of community hospitals, regional hospitals, referral hospitals, and finally provincial referral for the most esoteric or specialist care. For example, there is one specialist clinic for hearing and balance problems at the of the provincial teaching hospitals.   

Finally, pressure to change come from the rich. While they have a lobby, it is not as strong as the overwhelming public approval of the system via the ballot box.  A provincial or federal government that attempted to drastically influence the system would be thrown out of office by the parliamentary confidence system as opposed to the fixed-term system of office in the US. 

But once again, the pressures of the baby boom on the system will be a real test of whether our system can survive in its present form.

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By peedeecee, June 20, 2007 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment

I searched the JAMA archives for 1998, but no articles existed on iatrogenics as a leading cause of death.

Doing a general Google search on iatrogenics as a cause of death lead me to several Christian websites.

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By Marshall, June 20, 2007 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

#79650 by Lefty on 6/20 at 11:07 am

peedeecee: Lefty has no links because none exist.

Lefty: here are the top 2004 US causes of death in order:

Here’s a JAMA articleshowing causes of death in 2000:

You’ll notice that none of the reasons you mention in your post are shown anywhere.

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By peedeecee, June 20, 2007 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

Lefty said (post #79482):

1. Medical treatment as a whole [aka iatrogenics], is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S.,

2. Adverse reactions to FDA approved drugs [an element of iatrogenics], alone, is the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S., and

3. Medical malpractice [another element of iatrogenics], alone, is the 6th leading cause of death.

I find those statistics impossible to believe, and would like to see evidence for them. Got links, Lefty?

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By MAR, June 20, 2007 at 10:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Carol a Canadian is correct; Marshall is wrong, wrong about Canadian Health system. It is not socialized but a universal insurance scheme run by each province to nationally agreed standards as to coverage and inter provincial access. As an executive and management consultant in one Province prior to retirement, I can agree that the system is stressed financially and some services have reluctantly been allowed to be opened outside the system. i.e. although MRI’s are available within the system. the demand for a relatively new and costly diagnostic has encouraged some doctors to flout the system and set up private-pay facilities for specific procedures such as MRI.I think they will eventually have their comeuppance. In most cases, hospital care is without charge to the patient, except for special services such as bedside TV and phone, or private or semi private accommodation. But in most cases such accommodation is not available as it is used for medically essential patients (free).  But I have stayed for a month at onbe time and when I walked out all I paid for was my TV and phone.
Premium systems vary across the country - some provinces get premiums totally from general tax revenue, others have premiums for medical services (doctors, labs) or pharmaceuticals. In the latter case, pharmaceuticals provinces may have plans where there are income-tested entry points.

But as a patient, I choose my doctor, and have a choices as to whether I am willing to take this specialist or that specialist. The system was devised so that relations between doctor and patient are at arms length from government oversight. But the government “insurer” has great leverage over rates for professionals and great heft in the union negotiations in respect to nurses, hospital workers, and health science (lab, x-ray).

While there are highly publicized instances of waiting for some procedures (e.g orthopedics, open heart) this varies from place to place. I live in a rural area, am near 80 and have several health limiting conditions and I have never waited a really long time for access. I think I waited two months for prostate surgery but part of that was procedural (staging diagnostics.) In other areas, (GP, hospital admissions, emergency, services of specialists such as neurologists, specialty clinics, heart diagnostics) I have had no wait. The waiting may be longer, for example, emergency triage in large centers.
  Other than pharmaceutical cost participation (income related) and medicare premiums (doctors, xray, lab etc) and of course income taxes, it is directly without charge and accessible to every citizen - sometimes even knowledgeable Americans try to rip off our system by forged documents or using false Canadian identity but most are eventually caught. 

There is no doubt our system will face even greater stresses as the baby boom ages and that will pose challenges both in the area of capacity and cost. But to me the US system is an inhuman rake off by doctors and unreasonable manipulation by insurance companies.

Finally, I cite a case where a young man had a serious, mobility-limiting spinal back injury when holidaying near Denver. The parents sought help from our system, as the hospital and doctor costs were outrageous and he was literally a captive patient because of the nature of his injury.  Our medical and financial consultants (who ruled on out-of- country payments) finally advised the parents to charter an aircraft where he could be managed prone to get the patient back into Canadian jurisdiction.

In summary our system is not repeat not privatizing, although some functions outside the hospital have been private but closely controlled e.g lab, xray.  I cannot understand the rip-off by American doctors nor the manipulative denial of treatment by insurance companies and health organizations. Nor would we tolerate that in Canada.

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By Brad, June 20, 2007 at 10:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Like many things in this life, a “little” can be highly beneficial, while a “lot” is most often toxic.

Great point. Given that the current system is clearly broken, we have some room to tinker with it to achieve this balance and enact oversight and checks that work.  I don’t know what the answer is but luckily their is a widespread and meaningful discussion occurring with the possibility to translate this into reform.

Well done Mr. Moore, thanks for highlighting our national healthcare problem.  I can’t wait to see the film.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 20, 2007 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

Just a couple quick comments:
1.  Michael Moore is a true American Patriot.
2.  Jack Kevorkian is a hero.
3.  The insurance cos. must certainly be crafting at this moment their strategy to protect their earning ability after US finally adopts a universal health care system.  I’m interested to see what shape that takes.  I can’t imagine ins. lobbies won’t scramble to work something out with our reps in DC now that their candy store faces shutdown.  Probably a lot of them will go into caregiving and charge the gov. even higher prices.  You know they’re not going to lose. Then we’ll all be forced to outsource our care.  I think I’ll go into the International Healthcare Transport business.  Get a bunch of refurbished DC 3’s, make a runway out behind my house, hire a couple pilots, a mechanic, and Bingo!   
4.  You gotta hand it to Am. entreprenuers, don’t you?  If there’s a way to make money, someone will figure it out and figure out a way to maximize profits, as well, even if it means screwing the consumer.  US has remarkably effective business schools, in spite of how poorly our ed sys. is viewed, don’t you think?

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By cann4ing, June 20, 2007 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

re #79484 by Josef Woodman.  Excellent point.  The flip side of that is that Cuba offered to send hundreds of its doctors, with backpacks, to New Orleans after Katrina hit.  The Bush administration refused, of course.  They didn’t want America to see that an impoverished nation like Cuba could provide more efficient disaster relief thereby exposing the moral bankruptcy of the Grover Norquist-led privitazation schemes that had stripped agencies like FEMA of their efficiency by design.

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By cann4ing, June 20, 2007 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

Marshall, go to  You will find the stats, and the citations.  31% of U.S. healthcare expenditures go to the healthcare insurers.  That’s a fact!

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By Jon, June 20, 2007 at 8:28 am Link to this comment

I have to start by saying I am grateful because I have not experienced any of the horror stories desrcibed, regarding our healthcare system.  In fact my wife had hepititas C and between a combination of good medication and the coordination of care between two doctors, she was cured.  Having said that, I also have to say financially it would not have been possible, if not for help from family members to help foot the bill for the incredibly expensive medication.  We have health insurance, that we pay for, but that did not include precription drug coverage, which would have broken us, if not for the help we received.  To be honest I am somewhat conflicted about what the right answer is for how to fix the health care sytem in this country.  However, I do believe something needs to be done to bring down costs and improve access.  I am always skeptical about giving it to the goverment because they always seem to have a knack for misallocating our tax money for things like imperialist wars combined with a lack of accountabiliy for spending or transpancy.  An earlier comment regarding the incredible desrcrepancy in pricing for the inhalers in Cuba verses what they cost here highlights the need for some kind of price controls on medication. that is certainly one of the things that frustrates me, and I would imagine others, is not nesscarily that there is profit in the health care industry, but as illsutrated by the example of the inhalers from Cuba that the profits being made at the expense of accessibilty and affordabilty is obscene.

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By Spinoza, June 20, 2007 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

My neighbor just died from a cancer. She was in her 40’s and the suspected cause of death was her chemo therapy.  There is a lot of evidence that many of the drugs on the market are there for no good purpose. They are there to make profits for firms. I was recently recommended to have a microwave procedure for my enlarged prostrate. I went for a second opinion and this doctor said there was no evidence that the procedure worked. A neighbor who had the procedure said it made his situation worse.

Having universities do the manufacturing and (separately) research for all medicines will not guarantee that errors won’t be made but taking away the profit motive should help. Costs should drop to much less than what they are now and what they cost in Europe which is still based on the corrupt capitalist system.

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By Janus, June 20, 2007 at 6:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RAE comments in part:

“But I wouldn’t bet on it because America only THINKS it’s a “civilized” society. In reality, it’s still the frontier, “old west” mentality that rules - survival of the fittest - pull yourself up by your bootstraps - look out for No. 1. If you can’t… well, the gene pool’s better off without you.”

Absolutely correct, and it was ever thus.  The current status of our Plutocracy is the strongest ever thanks especially to our being burdened with the worst presidency in U. S. history and to the sycophantic, quasi-fascist right-winger Stooges in the Senate, House, the media, and yes to some extent in the clergy.  Social Darwinism is what you have described, and it has always been central to the philosophy of the Republican Party after Lincoln.  Beginning in more modern times with the over-rated Reagan, who was the first puppet with his shameless cronies, and continuing rapidly on the downward slope to our current Puppet, Social Darwinism has rapidly developed into a kind of religion of the Plutocracy which tolerates no dissenting Republican moderates.
Alas, the pathetic Dupes in the Country will nonetheless continue to vote against their own interests at the polls and thereby continue sending to Congress the same right-wing characters who never saw safety-net legislation they wouldn’t shred, who never saw a union they wouldn’t undermine or better yet destroy, and who are grossly indifferent to the 45 to 50 million Americans without health insurance, most of whom are employed but cannot afford the premiums.  Worst of all is that these lapdogs are masking with deceptive appeals to religion and red-blooded patriotism their utter contempt for all but the superrich and corporate welfare schemes.

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By Marshall, June 20, 2007 at 4:50 am Link to this comment

#79451 by Ernest Canning on 6/19 at 8:49 pm

<<Marshall states:  The US system provides good heath care.
Fact:  Citizens of 34 nations live longer than U.S. citizens.  The WHO ranks the US as 37th in the world in health system performance. Americans have lower odds of surviving colorectal cancer and childhood leukemia than Canadians.>>

One of the main reasons the US ranks 37th in performance is because so many people are uninsured.  There were five criteria used for the 2000 WHO ranking, and they are:

1) Cost:  US cost is high for numerous reasons including lack of coverage which leads to delayed treatment and lack of preventive care - thus higher treatment costs. We also have an aging population which increases per-capita cost.  Our complicated system also incurs high administrative costs.
2) Access to health care:  That means coverage.
3) Health and Well-being (includes life-expectency): Main reason for lower life-expectency in the US is… you guessed it… lack of coverage.
4) Responsiveness:  The US ranks #1 in the world for this… partly because it has little to do with coverage.
5) Fairness in Financing:  US rank is low primarily due to large number of uninsured.

I said the US has “good” care, not the best.  US survival rates for the diseases you mentioned are skewed in favor of countries with more universal coverage because lack of coverage means a) lack of screening for early detection, and b) lack of treatment when symptoms appear.

All of this points to the need for some serious rethinking of the US health care system and I never said otherwise.

<<Fact:  Canada has socialized medicine as does the UK.  As noted by Michal Moore, basically, “you pay for nothing….>>

Well, sortof.  Canada’s basic system is run by the government, but many Canadians buy private insurance to cover the things the NHS doesn’t (like some prescriptions, eye care, dental care, and home care).  About 40% of care given is in private facilities - so that side is not technically socialized.  In addition, private care helps many Canadians avoid long wait times for specific procedures (like MRIs) at public facilities.

By contrast, the more highly rated system in France (like Germany, Japan, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands) isn’t a single-payer, socialized system: it’s a blend of payers including govt., individuals, and employers, which ultimately reimburse the patient from an NHS fund… after the fact.  Most French have additional private insurance, and most doctors in France work for private medical groups.

<<Under Canada’s single-payer system, administrative costs run approximately 1.6% of total healthcare costs.  Within the US for-profit healthcare insurance system it’s a whopping 31% >>

Do you have a source for those figures?  A New England Journal of Medicine (August 2003) study found Canadian administrative costs to be about 1/3rd of the US - nowhere near the numbers you quote.  Regardless, much of this difference is the result of the fractious nature of our system which is a mish-mash of public and private funding, plans, and care.  Both Canada and the US incur advertising and marketing costs, btw (no, Canada is not a market-free zone).  There will ALWAYS be private companies involved because drugs and medical tech are not developed by governments.

<<Far too often the American system is a health care denial system whereas single-payer systems “provide” care.>>

Socialized or private, there will always be a gatekeeper who decides coverage - and NO system in the world provides unlimited care.

I will supply legitimate links to the sources for all my statements above if you’d like.  Just say the word.

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By student of 9/11, June 20, 2007 at 3:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Amy Goodman and Michael Moore like to refer to 9/11.

But neither of them (nor Katie Couric nor Alex Jones, etc.) have ever addressed the incredibly tiny size of the nanoparticles (which is evidence of molecular dissociation, which is caused by unconventional weaponry) at ““Ground Zero”“, nor how the size of the particles is what made the ““Ground Zero”” ‘dust’ so very special/harmful.

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By Josef Woodman, June 20, 2007 at 1:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While we all know by now that Michael Moore’s trademark—and PR calling card—is overstatement and hyperbole, it’s hard to argue with the facts.  In the past two and a half years of researching and writing “Patients Beyond Borders,” we discovered unimaginable disparities between healthcare abroad and here in the US. 

Which is one reason more than 150,000 US citizens packed their bags last year and headed overseas for medical treatment. Which is also why more than 110 foreign hospitals are now US-accredited and partnered with US hospitals such as Harvard Medical, Johns Hopkins and Cleveland Clinic.

The abysmal state of US healthcare is beginning to give way to global free market forces, and informed US healthcare consumers are increasingly presented with viable choices.

While traveling to Cuba on a boat isn’t the ideal medical journey, scratching a little deeper beneath the surface reveals a world of excellent, affordable healthcare just a plane ride away. While not a panacea or a universal solution, it’s a start, offering hope for millions of patients at their wit’s end with the medical morass here at home.

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By cann4ing, June 20, 2007 at 12:23 am Link to this comment

Spinoza, I concur that medicine is too important to permit a for profit motive to intervene.  Another way of putting it would be to realize that a nation’s health is not a commodity.

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By Tom Doff, June 19, 2007 at 11:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Another good thing you can say about Michael Moore, now that his main business is producing documentaries about US screw-ups, is that he does plan ahead.

He’ll be able to reuse the Titles and Credits from ‘SICKO’ when he does his expose of Bush and his cabal.

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By peedeecee, June 19, 2007 at 11:07 pm Link to this comment

I agree with Spinoza (and Moore in his film) that healthcare should not be for profit. I’ve never understood the kind of thinking that considers health a commodity, that some people can afford and some people can’t. Seems to me that a healthy population makes for a stronger, more productive nation.

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By Spinoza, June 19, 2007 at 11:06 pm Link to this comment

Fact:  Canada has socialized medicine as does the UK. 

No that is not correct.

I believe Canada has National Health Insurance.  It is merely a single payer insurance scheme. The Government doesn’t run/own the system.

I believe the UK has Socialized Medicine meaning that the government actually runs the hospitals and clinics.  In Europe where they have Socialized medicine the system is usually less expensive than a Insurance scheme and more democratic because the patients and the doctors make decisions as to how the clinics and hospitals are run.

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By Spinoza, June 19, 2007 at 10:42 pm Link to this comment

What would be an excellent health care system and who would be an excellent health care provider?

Health care providers need to be caring people who are concerned with their patients. The calculus of money should be removed from the system and wages of doctors and nurses and so on. Ways of achieving monopolies should not be part of the system. I here refer to the AMA limiting doctors and so on. But I am also referring to the corrupt business practices that makes medical supplies and equipment outrageously overpriced and having no relationship to the cost of production.

Medicines should not be made by private for profit businesses.  Medicine is too important to leave to the corrupt profit motive. It would be best if all medical research be done at the university level and with university standards as to safety and efficacy. There are way too many unnecessary drugs on the market.

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By peedeecee, June 19, 2007 at 9:57 pm Link to this comment

Glad you and I agree, Ernest Canning. I have no idea who Marshall is, but I am Canadian, so know our healthcare system, and have seen Sicko, so know what Moore is saying. Marshall had it wrong.

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By peedeecee, June 19, 2007 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment

Marshall said,

“Canada’s single payer socialized system has given way to private involvement (to a great degree in fact).”

Sorry, that is untrue.

Marshall also said,

“The US system provides good health care… it’s the incomplete coverage that’s the problem.”

Sorry, that is also untrue. Moore’s point in the film is that even the 250 million Americans who have healthcare coverage are routinely denied health services by the insurance companies who provide the coverage.

See the film.

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By cann4ing, June 19, 2007 at 9:49 pm Link to this comment

Here we go again.  No sooner does a new post appear when up pops Marshall with his bogus, right-wing ditties.

Marshall states:  The US system provides good heath care.

Fact:  Citizens of 34 nations live longer than U.S. citizens.  The WHO ranks the US as 37th in the world in health system performance.  Americans have lower odds of surviving colorectal cancer and childhood leukemia than Canadians.

As noted by Dr. Marcia Angell, introducing H.R. 676 (Conyers-Kucinich, single payer), “Americans have the most expensive health care system in the world.  We spend twice as much per person as other developed nations and the gap is growing.  That’s not because we are sicker or more demanding (Canadians…see their doctors more often and spend more time in the hospital).  And it’s not because we get better results.  By the usual measures of health (life expectancy, infant mortality, immunization rates) we do worse than most other developed countries.”

Marshall states:  Single-payer systems are destined to failure.  Canada’s system is giving way to private involvement.

Fact:  Canada has socialized medicine as does the UK.  As noted by Michal Moore, basically, “you pay for nothing.  You choose your own doctor….your own hospital.”  Under Canada’s single-payer system, administrative costs run approximately 1.6% of total healthcare costs.  Within the US for-profit healthcare insurance system it’s a whopping 31% of spiraling healthcare costs because it goes to fatten the wallets of healthcare insurer CEOs, their lobbyists, their advertisers and the teams of utilization review doctors who spend their time devising ways to justify the denial of necessary services.

On Democracy Now! Ms. Goodman broadcast a portion of Sicko! in which Mr. Moore interviewed a British doctor working within Britain’s government-run, healthcare system.  He makes $200,000/year and lives in a $1 million home; drives a nice car.  The doctor said American physicians should not fear socialized medicine unless they insist on living in $3 million homes and driving multiple fancy cars.  He then said something interesting—that his pay is based on the job he does.  “If I get more of my patients to stop smoking this year or if I bring their cholesterol down…, I’ll make more money.”

Moore observed that it is the opposite here, where “the more people that smoke or don’t eat well, who end up with illness and disease, that means more money for the pharmaceutical companies, more money for doctors…for hospitals.”

Finally, Marshall suggests the only problem is “incomplete coverage.”

Fact:  While 47 million Americans have no coverage, up 7 million since 2000 and while an estimated 18,000 Americans die each year due to lack of coverage, the principle problem with the American system, exposed by Sicko! is the great lengths to which the insurance industry will go to deny necessary procedures in order to turn a profit.  Far too often the American system is a health care denial system whereas single-payer systems “provide” care.

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By Carol a Canadian, June 19, 2007 at 8:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No Marshall, our system up here “has not given way to private envolvement”.
Yes there are private aspects to our system—but THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN!
Ever since the public health system was created. Yes you can always buy extras, but guess what that bone marrow transplant, that knee replacement - COVERED and you dont lose your house.

I am tired of people like you calling it socialized health—it is no more socialized than your car insurance or any other form of insurance, the only difference is that our taxes pay the premiums and guess what when everyone has the same insurer—the government—- we ALL get coverage and unlike my American friends aren’t DENIED procedures or TOLD which doctor we can go to.

Yes we can sometimes wait in line, but guess what my cousin in NYC whose husband died of cancer he waited for treatment too AND he had great insurance with a very very big computer manufacturer which he paid 10,000 a year for. Why’s that Marshall, if your system is so good?

Get your head out of the sand- wake up

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By Marshall, June 19, 2007 at 8:21 pm Link to this comment

Health care is a complicated issue.  But my current belief is that fully socialized single payer systems are destined for failure.  Canada’s single payer socialized system has given way to private involvement (to a great degree in fact), and France’s system (described by WHO as #1) is definitely NOT a single payer, fully socialized system.  The US system provides good health care… it’s the incomplete coverage that’s the problem.

It would seem to me that Moore’s example of buying a bunch of 5 cent inhalers in Cuba is tantamount to inferring that Mexico has a better economic system than the US because you can buy cheap beer.  That inhaler was a) subsidized by Cuban taxpayer dollars in a country where b) the exchange rate is 24 pesos to the dollar, in which c) the average wage is $10-$15 a month.

Now, all of a sudden, that 5 cents doesn’t seem so cheap.  I wonder if Moore addressed these points in his movie.

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By RAE, June 19, 2007 at 8:19 pm Link to this comment

Clearly those employed by the health care industry are doing so, at least in part, FOR PROFIT.

What is at issue is HOW MUCH PROFIT and at WHOSE EXPENSE IS IT BEING MADE? Like many things in this life, a “little” can be highly beneficial, while a “lot” is most often toxic.

It is not reasonable to object to a doctor or nurse or a drug company or even a health insurance company making a REASONABLE profit from their education, training, efforts and participation in health. But a profit of BILLIONS is pure GREED and AVARICE. It’s legalized THEFT. It is not how a civilized society should operate.

Denying ANYONE who is ill the treatment(s) and medicine(s) because they don’t have the money or don’t have “coverage” should lead to charges of assault/abuse, and in the case where death occurs and can be attributed directly or indirectly to denial of treatment or medicine, a charge of murder should be laid.

I hope Moore & Company make mincemeat out of these morally bankrupt thieves. I hope the furor brings the changes necessary. At the very least, the health insurance and drug companies should be converted to NON-PROFIT organizations - no money-grubbing shareholders to cater to.

But I wouldn’t bet on it because America only THINKS it’s a “civilized” society. In reality, it’s still the frontier, “old west” mentality that rules - survival of the fittest - pull yourself up by your bootstraps - look out for No. 1. If you can’t… well, the gene pool’s better off without you.

America is a GREAT place to be… IF YOU’VE GOT MONEY… and ONLY if you’ve got money.

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