Sunday, July 01, 2007


Image from MSNBC


Sarah and I saw the new Michael Moore film Sicko. I thought it was very good. The movie Sicko isn't about the millions of Americans without health insurance (45 million, I think, according to the movie). It's about Americans who do have health insurance and still get screwed.

One of my favorite moments in the movie is where Moore is interviewing this Canadian guy in a golf cart and he's talking about the good things about Canada's health system. Moore asks if he's a Socialist or a Green. And he replies that he's actually a member of the Conservative party. It really drove home the point that in other countries, the "right" is way to the "left" of the American Democratic party on the issue of health care.

Our current patchwork system health care tied to employment has all sorts of negative effects. And the US outcomes on things like life expectancy and infant mortality are a national embarrassment. Of Course, Moore does not emphasize the price other countries pay to have universal health care, but the depictions of the things that can happen in this country are heart-wrenching.

I want to figure out what I can do to help change this. I think I should look more deeply into what the Democratic presidential candidates are proposing. The problem is that there are numerous ideological hurdles to overcome, and there are multi-billion dollar interests who have a stake in the current broken order. I don't know what would work best in this country, but something has got to change.

Whatever changes we try to adopt, it's going to require a lot of leadership and a lot of citizen activism. And let's hope GM and other corporations who are suffering so much pain due to the cost of providing health care for their workers start lobbying the government and providing a counterbalance to the lobbying of the health care industry.

UPDATE: hopesprings on DailyKos urges you to go see the movie this weekend, as opening weekend box office numbers carry enormous weight in the industry. I want this film to have some impact on the health care debate (or rather, to start a real health care debate in this country) , so I'd like to see it prosper.


Anonymous Bill in Minneapolis said...

Paul Krugman has written several columns on health care in the U.S.
It is a disaster as Michael Moore points out.

First step is to cover everyone under 21 under Medicare.

Krugman thinks that Edwards has the best thought out plan. I am sure you can get more info on his website.

Right now in the U.S. everyone is 'gaming' the system by trying to duck or avoid coverage and only covering healthy people in the first place. Private health savings accounts only aggravate this (Bush's solution).

Universal coverage is needed. How to get there is a challenge. A single payor system like most countries have would be much better than what we now have.

However, getting there from where we are is not easy. Incremental changes are probably more realistic with the government filling in the gaps of the present system and elinimating the ability to 'game' the system.

4:23 PM, July 01, 2007  
Blogger Sarah said...

Most states provide health insurance to children from low-income families. The program started in 1997 and is called the State Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Actually, the main problem is low enrollment. States hire outreach workers to encourage low-income parents to enroll their children, but there are several barriers to enrollment including paperwork requirements and fear of INS involvement for immigrant families.

I still agree that we need single payer health care of course, but thought the, ahem, many readers of this blog should know about SCHIP. There's more info about SCHIP at:

I'm not sure I agree that incremental change is the way to go. When things are bad enough, and particularly when the left and right can agree that there is a social problem (rather than a private concern, which is after all one of the main dividing points between the left and right - how to differentiate social problems and private concerns), change can be dramatic and quick - e.g. the New Deal. Have things gotten bad enough for folks on the left and right to agree that this is a major public concern? I don't know. Of course, I think it is, but I live in a Berkeley bubble.

7:36 PM, July 02, 2007  

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