Sicko makes the point

I heard today about the throwdown on CNN between Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s resident medical expert, and filmmaker Michael Moore over the “facts” in Moore’s documentary “Sicko”. The film is an indictment of the US health care system.

Filmmaker Michael Moore launched into an 11-minute rant on American TV on Monday, during which he blasted the media for misrepresenting his new healthcare documentary Sicko. The controversial director was appearing on CNN show The Situation Room when he blasted both the network and host Wolf Blitzer for having a “poor track record” as journalists. Moore had been invited onto the program to counter a report made by CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, which pointed out alleged false information and statistics in Sicko, which takes aim at the U.S. health care system. Moore blasted, “That report was so biased, I can’t imagine which pharmaceutical company ad is coming up right after our break. All the statistics show that we have far worse healthcare than these other industrialized countries. We’re the only ones that don’t have it free and universal.” Moore also accused the network of covering up the truth about the American healthcare system and the country’s military involvement in Iraq. He said, “You’re the ones who are fudging the facts. You’ve fudged the facts to the American people now for I don’t know how long about this issue, about the war. And I’m just curious, when are you gonna just stand there and apologize to the American people for not bringing the truth to them that isn’t sponsored by some major corporation?”

Moore Blasts Blitzer & CNN Live

In another report Gupta conceded Moore’s point in the film:

In the end, however, Gupta acknowledged that overall the movie “strikes at the irrefutable fact — [the U.S. health system] is broken.” Gupta, who continues to practice medicine, was asked by Moore whether he himself didn’t find the current health-insurance system cumbersome. The surgeon replied, “It’s a shameful system, especially when I’m dealing with some of my patients.”

Michael Moore Spars With Sanjay Gupta on CNN

Now if CNN and other media would concede they have been parroting Bush’s talking points for years now….

I admit I haven’t seen the film yet. I really don’t have to because I have had my own run-ins with the health care system so I know it is broken.

Here is one example:

I caught a bug on a Saturday and it got worse to where I had a 102 degree fever. It scared me because the year before I got a bad infection that started the same way and I ended up in the hospital for 4 days getting massive I.V.s of antibiotics.

Being a Sunday I decided to save my HMO some cash and I went to an Urgent Care center instead of the Emergency room. Not only would it save money but it would save time. When I went to the ER when I had my bad infection I waited for 12 hours before I was seen by a doctor.

I went to the Urgent Care place and waited maybe 30 minutes. The doctor confirmed that all I had was a bad cold. *Whew*.

A month later I get a letter from my HMO denying coverage because I didn’t call them first. That cost me $156.

That same year I was getting some physical therapy as result of the previous infection and I didn’t learn until after my 2 weeks of therapy that the HMO wasn’t paying for it because the doctor didn’t go through the referral process – that’s where they clear a therapy with the HMO. That cost me $7000. Don’t even get me started as to why 10 one hour meetings with someone who only wrapped my legs in bandages cost $7000. That’s $700 an hour. I did file an appeal but the HMO only said “rules are rules.”

Then there is the fact that many plans won’t pay for weight loss programs or smoking deterrents. They will pay for the resulting medical conditions from being fat or a smoker but they refuse to cover treating the causes.

Here is a comentary on the film from James Clay Fuller of the Twin Cities Daily Planet:

[Philip M. Boffey of the New York Times] says it is “hard to know how true” are the stories Moore puts on film -– stories such as that of a young woman who was retroactively denied health care insurance because of a minor yeast infection that was cured years before she applied for and got the insurance that was taken away when she needed it.

Well, I’ll tell him. There is not the slightest reason to doubt any of the individual stories Moore has used in the film.

First, the director is too smart to use a phony story, and risk getting caught, when there are, as he says, countless such stories. When he put out a request on his Web site for personal stories of being screwed by health insurers, Moore was inundated. Within days, he had more than 20,000 such stories.

Second, I can recount four or five such tales from the years I was the primary caregiver for my aged mother, and another dozen from among my acquaintances. This moment, I am deeply concerned about a friend who is in despair because of the years-long battle he has had to wage with his health insurer in order to get care he must have to live, and the debt that has piled up as a result.

Anyone who hasn’t experienced such a situation, or doesn’t at least know someone who has had to fight for his or her life in such a way, must live in another country.

Sicko: Commenting on commentaries

I support moving to a single-payer health care system. It preserves choice and allows for people to get the treatment they need. As some one commented on the above story put it “Single payer reform is NOT socialized medicine. It’s socialized INSURANCE. Cuts out the middle man but the delivery system remains private and people can go to any doctor or hospital they want.”

For more info see:

Single Payer Universal Health Insurance “Sicko”

Canadian drugs now a terrorist threat???

Now the FDA doesn’t want us to buy Canadian drugs because the FDA was briefed of terrorist plans to attack the domestic food and drug supply.

FDA fears drugs a terror target
Acting commissioner says imported drugs biggest concern

Thursday, August 12, 2004 Posted: 10:29 AM EDT (1429 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) — “Cues from chatter” gathered around the world are raising concerns that terrorists might try to attack the domestic food and drug supply, particularly illegally imported prescription drugs, acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Lester M. Crawford says.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Crawford said Wednesday that he had been briefed about al-Qaeda plans uncovered during recent arrests and raids, but declined further comment about any possible threats.

“While we must assume that such a threat exists generally, we have no specific information now about any al-Qaeda threats to our food or drug supply,” said Brian Roehrkasse, spokesman for the Homeland Security Department.

[Note how the Homeland Security spokesperson contradicts the FDA commissioner but the CNN report plays up the “danger” as if it is specific.]

Of course this comes on the heels of the FDA starting their “Don’t buy Canadian drugs because they are unsafe” public service campaign here in Ohio.

FDA warns Ohioans not to cross border for prescriptions
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Anna Michael

A federally funded campaign urging Americans to buy their prescription drugs strictly from pharmacies in the United States has been extended to Ohio.

The “Looks Can Be Deceiving” campaign warns consumers of potential safety problems with prescription drugs sold in Canada and other countries.

Driven by the high cost of prescription drugs in the United States, thousands of Americans go online or to Canada to purchase medicine.

In central Ohio, there are stores that fax prescriptions to pharmacies in Canada, which then ship drugs to the United States.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration campaign, which has been presented in 14 other states, was presented yesterday in Columbus.

Now such threats to drugs might be a real concern if Canada was a 3rd world back water. The fact is that Canada is a real country with similar standards for the sale of medications. They are also working hard to keep their country safe from terrorist incidents and that helps protect the US.

All of the major brands of medications sold here in the US are also sold in Canada and at least one major manufacture has their research and development lab in Ontario.

The FDA’s actions would be like the Federal Trade Commission warning people not to import Japanese steel because it can’t vouch for the strength of it. That would be a shock to the Japanese who have been the steel innovators for the past 30 years.

The FDA’s war on imported drugs is nothing more than a smoke screen to protect their friends in the medication industry.

I really hope most people see through the screen.