Saturday, September 08, 2007

Cuban Human Rights Activist: Sicko "Lacking in Truth"

Healthy in Cuba, Sick in America? - John Stossel Takes on Michael Moore, Examines Government-Run Health Care. ABC News. Sept. 7, 2007:

Moore says in the film, "I asked [the Havana hospital] to give us the same exact care they give their fellow Cuban citizens. No more, no less. And that's what they did."

Moore sat down with "20/20's" John Stossel and talked about that claim. When asked whether it really was an average hospital, Moore said, "Yes."

"This isn't just me saying this, you know. All the world health organizations or whatever have confirmed that if there's one thing they do right in Cuba, it's health care," Moore said. "And there's very little debate about that."

In fact, there is plenty of debate. Miami-based Cuban Human Rights activist Jose Carro says Moore's movie paints an inaccurate picture.

"These films that try to portray the health-care system as superior to that of the U.S. are lacking in truth," Carro said. He asserts that most hospitals for Cuban citizens are dilapidated, that conditions are filthy and that patients are so neglected that some are starving.

George Utset, who runs the anti-Castro Web site called, says Moore's group didn't "go to the hospital for regular Cubans. They go to the hospital for the elite and it's [a] very different condition."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

What Michael Moore left out of 'Sicko'

The Orange Grove: What Michael Moore left out of 'Sicko', by Richard Ralston. Orange County Register July 26, 2007:

. . . Longer life spans in Canada were cited as proof that Canada has a superior health care system. Moore forgot to mention how many Canadians die in traffic accidents, are shot by criminals, are killed in combat, are addicted to illegal drugs, have diseases primarily afflicting racial minorities, or are obese, compared with Americans. He also forgot to establish whether Canadians started living longer only after they nationalized their health care system, or whether they always lived longer than Americans. He did not mention that if they do live two years longer, they need to – because that is how long they often have to wait for surgery.

When Moore filmed two of his relatives buying health insurance in fear before they traveled to America, he forgot to mention that many Canadians travel to America for the express purpose of spending their own money for more than $1 billion in American health care each year.

Moore interviewed a physician in the British National Health Service about how wonderful free health care is in Britain, and how satisfied the physicians are in the NHS. He forgot to mention that more than one third of physicians working for the NHS buy private insurance so they don't have to rely on the "free" care, and that more than 6 million British citizens also buy private insurance for the same reason. He did not mention that this year the health minister admitted that one in eight British patients still wait for more than a year for treatment. He neglected to say that Britain has had to import more than 20,000 physicians in the past three years – chiefly from Middle Eastern and Asian countries – because so few of the British, after sixty years of experience with the NHS, want to enter or stay in the profession.

While praising the superiority of French medical care and the fact that French doctors make house calls – almost as an aside while praising the superiority of every element of French society compared with America's – Moore forgot to mention that 13,000 Frenchmen died of heat prostration and dehydration during a heat wave in the summer of 2003, when most French physicians were on summer vacation and did not show up in emergency rooms, let alone make house calls. . . . READ MORE

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Kevin Leffler's "Shooting Michael Moore"

Shooting Michael More. From the website:

Kevin Leffler is a friendly, CPA, tenured assistant professor, and founder of an educational non-profit, who is a life-long resident of Davison, Michigan. Leffler lives outside of Flint, Michigan, Michael Moore’s purported ‘home town.’ That Leffler elected to finance and create a documentary about his old high school and work buddy Michael embraces a rare sort of poetic justice.

Leffler’s Shooting Michael Moore reveals another side of Moore. We learn that while writing books and shooting films that expose America’s inequities and presenting himself as a moral compass, he abused the non-profit status, engaged in questionable tax practices, violated environmental laws, and invested in Halliburton, oil stocks, leading drug companies, and HMO-chains. Additionally, contrary to his public persona, he used and deceived both the “little people” as well as U.S servicemen, and Flint’s populace is still waiting for him to bring promised jobs.

Though we soon discover that honesty and generosity may not be descriptive of Moore, Shooting Michael Moore is neither mean-spirited nor deceptive, like so much of the namesake’s work. Leffler is an amusing narrator, never angry or righteous, and his film is an expose, peopled with colorful characters as well as noted authorities.

We “visit” both Moore’s lakeside mansion on Torch Lake, Michigan and his penthouse in Manhattan and wonder if Moore is really anti-rich. Once we learn Iran and Osama Bin Laden praised Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, we also question his patriotism.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Michael Moore vs. CNN

Michael Moore vs. CNN, by Brent Bozell. July 18, 2007:

Let's be blunt: Michael Moore is one ungrateful leftist hack. CNN had showered him with three hours and 10 minutes of face time (repeats included) on "Larry King Live" and "The Situation Room," helping him sell his latest socialist film, "Sicko." That kind of attention would make a conservative drool. But when CNN aired a "fact check" piece on his documentary, adding a fraction of balance, he declared jihad, promising in a letter to be CNN's "worst nightmare."

CNN medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta put together a fairly mild report taking issue with some of Moore's cinematic claims. For example, Moore gauzily promoted the health-care promise of communist Cuba. In the film's most publicized stunt, he traveled with Americans suffering from 9/11-related symptoms and had them treated in Cuban hospitals. Gupta pointed out that while Moore highlights that the United Nations World Health Organization cites the United States as 37th in the world for health care, the same study ranks Cuba as 39th.

This is the kind of fact checking that drives Moore into a frenzy. He cannot tolerate someone insisting that the infallible Michael Moore would ever mangle a fact. In a response on his Website, . . .

Friday, July 06, 2007

New York Times: "What's Lacking in 'Sicko'"

What's Lacking in 'Sicko', by Dan Mitchell. New York Times July 7, 2007:

WHEN it comes to economic decisions, there are always trade-offs. Gain one thing and you lose something else. This is particularly true in health care, a market in which a scarce good is ridiculously expensive, but needed by everybody.

The central argument of Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko” — that the cure to the nation’s health care problems is a single-payer system — is hardly novel and is certainly worth consideration, whether or not you agree with it. But in comparing the American system with single-payer plans of other countries —Britain, France, Canada and Cuba — Mr. Moore left out the trade-offs, characterizing those countries as health care paradises.

The elisions have been noticed — and criticism is coming not just from Mr. Moore’s most bellicose and dogmatic detractors. . . . READ MORE

"Socialized Medicine is SICKO"

"Socialized Medicine is SICKO", by Stuart Browning.:

I'm an independent filmmaker with no ties to the health insurance or health care industry - only a personal concern about American liberty and medical freedom. I've made a number of short films about health care policy - specifically for the internet - and featured on a new website:

Michael Moore's new movie Sicko is set to inject a large dose of misinformation and propaganda into our national dialog about health care policy. A case in point is Howard Fineman's column in the June 18 edition of Newsweek. Having just attended a Washington press screening of Sicko, he writes about the increasingly urgent calls for government-run health care:

It would be nice to think that the urgency is the result of outrage at our mediocre infant-mortality and life-expectancy numbers, which are among the worst in the developed world.

The truth, however, is that even if we were to adopt a single-payer system, our infant mortality and life expectancy numbers would still compare unfavorably with Canada and other OECD countries for the simple reason that they have little or nothing to do with the quality of our health care system. . . .

Sally Pipes: "Moore adores the Canadian system. I do not."

More Lies from More, by Sally Pipes. New York Post July 6, 2007:

In "Sicko," Michael Moore uses a clip of my appearance earlier this year on "The O'Reilly Factor" to introduce a segment on the glories of Canadian health care.

Moore adores the Canadian system. I do not.

I am a new American, but I grew up and worked for many years in Canada. And I know the health care system of my native country much more intimately than does Moore. There's a good reason why my former countrymen with the money to do so either use the services of a booming industry of illegal private clinics, or come to America to take advantage of the health care that Moore denounces.

Government-run health care in Canada inevitably resolves into a dehumanizing system of triage, where the weak and the elderly are hastened to their fates by actuarial calculation. Having fought the Canadian health care bureaucracy on behalf of my ailing mother just two years ago - she was too old, and too sick, to merit the highest quality care in the government's eyes - I can honestly say that Moore's preferred health care system is something I wouldn't wish on him.

In 1999, my uncle was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. If he'd lived in America, the miracle drug Rituxan might have saved him. But Rituxan wasn't approved for use in Canada, and he lost his battle with cancer.

But don't take my word for it: Even the Toronto Star agrees that Moore's endorsement of Canadian health care is overwrought and factually challenged. And the Star is considered a left-wing newspaper, even by Canadian standards. . . . READ MORE

Who's the real sicko?, by David Gratzer. July 6, 2007:

'Ihaven't seen Sicko," says Avril Allen about the new Michael Moore documentary, which advocates socialized medicine for the United States. The film, which has been widely viewed on the Internet, and which officially opened in the United States and Canada on Friday, has been getting rave reviews. But Ms. Allen, a lawyer, has no plans to watch it. She's just too busy preparing to file suit against Ontario's provincial government about its health care system next month.

Her client, Lindsay McCreith, would have had to wait for four months just to get an MRI, and then months more to see a neurologist for his malignant brain tumor. Instead, frustrated and ill, the retired auto-body shop owner traveled to Buffalo, N.Y., for a lifesaving surgery. Now he's suing for the right to opt out of Canada's government-run health care, which he considers dangerous.

Ms. Allen figures the lawsuit has a fighting chance: In 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that "access to wait lists is not access to health care," striking down key Quebec laws that prohibited private medicine and private health insurance. . . . READ MORE

Kurt Loder: Moore's Sicko 'Heavily Doctored'

'Sicko': Heavily Doctored, by Kurt Loder. June 29, 2007:

Unfortunately, Moore is also a con man of a very brazen sort, and never more so than in this film. His cherry-picked facts, manipulative interviews (with lingering close-ups of distraught people breaking down in tears) and blithe assertions (how does he know 18,000* people will die this year because they have no health insurance?) are so stacked that you can feel his whole argument sliding sideways as the picture unspools. The American health-care system is in urgent need of reform, no question. Some 47 million people are uninsured (although many are only temporarily so, being either in-between jobs or young enough not to feel a pressing need to buy health insurance). There are a number of proposals as to what might be done to correct this situation. Moore has no use for any of them, save one.

As a proud socialist, the director appears to feel that there are few problems in life that can't be solved by government regulation (that would be the same government that's already given us the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Motor Vehicles). . . .

The problem with American health care, Moore argues, is that people are charged money to avail themselves of it. In other countries, like Canada, France and Britain, health systems are far superior — and they're free. He takes us to these countries to see a few clean, efficient hospitals, where treatment is quick and caring; and to meet a few doctors, who are delighted with their government-regulated salaries; and to listen to patients express their beaming happiness with a socialized health system. It sounds great. As one patient in a British hospital run by the country's National Health Service says, "No one pays. It's all on the NHS. It's not America."

That last statement is even truer than you'd know from watching "Sicko." In the case of Canada — which Moore, like many other political activists, holds up as a utopian ideal of benevolent health-care regulation — a very different picture is conveyed by a short 2005 documentary called "Dead Meat," by Stuart Browning and Blaine Greenberg. These two filmmakers talked to a number of Canadians of a kind that Moore's movie would have you believe don't exist. . . .

What's the problem with government health systems? Moore's movie doesn't ask that question, although it does unintentionally provide an answer. When governments attempt to regulate the balance between a limited supply of health care and an unlimited demand for it they're inevitably forced to ration treatment. This is certainly the situation in Britain. Writing in the Chicago Tribune this week, Helen Evans, a 20-year veteran of the country's National Health Service and now the director of a London-based group called Nurses for Reform, said that nearly 1 million Britons are currently on waiting lists for medical care — and another 200,000 are waiting to get on waiting lists. Evans also says the NHS cancels about 100,000 operations each year because of shortages of various sorts. Last March, the BBC reported on the results of a Healthcare Commission poll of 128,000 NHS workers: two thirds of them said they "would not be happy" to be patients in their own hospitals. James Christopher, the film critic of the Times of London, thinks he knows why. After marveling at Moore's rosy view of the British health care system in "Sicko," Christopher wrote, "What he hasn't done is lie in a corridor all night at the Royal Free [Hospital] watching his severed toe disintegrate in a plastic cup of melted ice. I have." Last month, the Associated Press reported that Gordon Brown — just installed this week as Britain's new prime minister — had promised to inaugurate "sweeping domestic reforms" to, among other things, "improve health care."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

See, here’s the thing. It’s not like . . . the US healthcare system is perfect. You’d have to be a moron to look at a system this flawed and hold it up as an example to emulate. There are a lot of really good things about our system and also a lot of really bad things. The same goes for socialized medicine. Moore, rather than create a film which will initiate debate on the state of healthcare in this country, merely made a 90-minute informercial for socialism. There are so many things wrong with the Canadian, British, and French healthcare systems that books can (and have) been written about it. Moore treats these countries as if they’re some fantastical mystery lands, with rivers of chocolate, where children laugh and dance and play with gumdrop smiles, knowing that all the healthcare they could ever want is right there at their fingertips for the taking.

Moore will claim that he’s interested in initiating debate. Far from it. The debate is already going on, he just wants to skew it towards his side. (Which is fascinating in an of itself. Michael Moore is a guy who thinks that the same government which can’t be trusted with your library records should be trusted with your health records.)

-- Lee @

I've seen the movie and "90 minute infomercial for socialism" sounds about right. Nary a counter-argument in sight.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

AP: "Michael Moore gives the accused little say in 'Sicko'"

Michael Moore gives the accused little say in 'Sicko' International Herald Tribune July 1, 2007. [The Associated Press]:

. . . At one point, Moore notes where the U.S. ranks in terms of health care around the world.

"The United States slipped to No. 37 in health care around the world, just slightly ahead of Slovenia," he said.

That ranking is based on a 2000 report from the World Health Organization that some health analysts viewed as misleading.

Moore does not say that one of the countries he highlighted, Cuba, is ranked 39th, below the U.S. Among the others, France is ranked No. 1, the United Kingdom ranked 18th and Canada ranked 30th. He does not give those rankings, either.

The report, based on 1997 data, measured not just the quality of care provided, but how well the countries prevented illness and how fairly the poor, minorities and other special populations are treated. . . .

Saturday, June 30, 2007

'Sicko': Michael Moore's Anemic Checkup, by Stephen Hunter. Washington Post June 30, 2007:

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we can agree on two things: The American health-care system is busted and Michael Moore is not the guy to fix it.

His “Sicko,” an investigation and indictment of that system, which is choking on paperwork, greed, bad policy and countervailing goals, turns out to be a fuzzy, toothless collection of anecdotes, a few stunts and a bromide-rich conclusion. He’s not even above looking hound-eyed into the camera as he stands on a Venetian bridge as a gondola scoots by underneath him and intoning, “We’re all in the same boat.”

We may be, but here’s the problem: He never tells us which boat. . . .

Friday, June 29, 2007

Deroy Murdock: "'SKiPO': Michael Moore's 'SiCKO' Skips Over Facts on Road to Government Medicine

'SKiPO': Michael Moore's 'SiCKO' Skips Over Facts on Road to Government Medicine, by Deroy Murdock. :

While promoting this prescription, Moore overlooks many facts that would balance his otherwise well-crafted film. For now, its leftward tilt makes the Leaning Tower of Pisa look like the Washington Monument.

  • Milton Friedman observed, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Sadly, there’s no such thing as free healthcare, either.

    Britons, Canadians, and Frenchmen purchase their “free” coverage through their taxes. In America, 44.7 percent of health expenditures came from tax-funded government spending in 2004, the OECD reports. In Canada, that figure was 69.8 percent; while in France it was 78.4. Fully 86.3 percent of British health spending was taxpayer-funded.

  • Moore claims 50 million Americans lack health insurance. In the Moving Picture Institute’s nine-minute film, “Uninsured in America,” Stuart Browning deconstructs the more common “45 million uninsured” soundbite and finds that 9 million of these people earn over $75,000 annually and can buy coverage but don’t. ( Some 18 million are healthy, 18-34-year-old “young invincibles” whose priorities exclude insurance. Another 14 million fail to enroll in Medicaid and other low-income health programs for which they are eligible. Even if these numbers somewhat overlap, Browning estimates that just 8 million Americans chronically lack coverage.
  • Moore shows Michiganders driving into Canada for “free” medical attention. What he leaves unseen are the Canadians who come to America for treatment. Canada, along with only Cuba and North Korea, forbids its citizens from privately paying doctors for treatment. In a kind of therapeutic Underground Railroad, Vancouver’s Timely Medical Alternatives, Inc. arranges for Canadians to be treated in American hospitals. Thus its clients can be operated on within seven days rather than six to 10 months under Canadian government medicine.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Moore Planned To Go to Cuba

Time Bought Into Michael Moore's 'Sicko' Schtick, by Lynne Davis. June 25, 2007:

. . . Other sources have revealed that Moore planned to go to Cuba from the beginning. The Smoking Gun website obtained a letter to Moore from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) which stated that before filming even began, Goldflat Productions, which included Moore, applied to OFAC on October 12, 2006 for permission to travel to Cuba—not “to American soil” at Gitmo, but Castro's Cuba.

Also, statements by several 9/11 responders that were made to the New York Post confirmed that this promotional stunt to treat the responders with Cuban healthcare was planned by Moore and his film company before they left the US . . .

Sunday, June 24, 2007

USA TODAY: "Sicko uses omission, exaggeration and cinematic sleight of hand to make its points."

, by Richard Wolf. USA Today June 24, 2007:

Sicko is sure to prompt a healthy debate about the U.S. health care system. But it tells only one side of the story. . . .

Sicko uses omission, exaggeration and cinematic sleight of hand to make its points. In criticizing politicians, insurers and drug makers, it says little about the high quality of U.S. care. In lauding Canada, Great Britain, France and Cuba, it largely avoids mention of the long lines and high taxes that accompany most government-run systems. . . .

"Obviously, it's not free," says Michael Cannon of the libertarian Cato Institute. Those countries "have unleashed demand, and they're capping supply. When you do that, you get lines."

In Canada, even the anti-privatization Canadian Health Coalition laments long lines. In France and Britain, the tax burden is 42% and 27% respectively, as opposed to 12% in the USA, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In Cuba, equipment and drugs are scarce. . . .

Some facts and figures in Sicko are misleading. The film says nearly 50 million Americans have no health insurance; 44.8 million people were uninsured in the USA in 2005, including non-citizens, the Census Bureau says. The film says health care costs $7,000 a person each year; the World Health Organization says it costs $6,100.

Moore reaches back more than a decade for gripping stories of care denied by insurers and HMOs — stories that were more common in the 1990s. He cites the case of a man in 1987 who was denied coverage for a heart transplant, and the subsequent congressional testimony in 1996 by Linda Peeno, who says her job at the insurer Humana was to deny as many claims as possible.

Then there are cinematic techniques, such as "posing" former congressman Billy Tauzin with a $2 million check from his new employer, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. A lengthy list of medical conditions that Moore says are not covered rolls by; the list comes from one employer.

"This piece is an editorial," says Karen Ignagni of America's Health Insurance Plans. "There was no effort by Michael Moore to get the view of our industry."

Friday, June 22, 2007

REASON Magazine: "a clumsy piece of agitprop that will likely have little lasting effect on the health care debate."

, by Michael C. Moynihan Reason Magazine:

. . . But, the viewer is left wondering, who will pay for all this generosity? Don't governments too suffer from cash shortfalls and ballooning budget deficits; situations that require corners to be cut, beds to be freed up, the cheapest route taken? What of Moore's implication that, once turned over to the government, things become "free?"
Take, for instance, Moore's shining example of the Hammersmith Hospital in London and the NHS health care system:
Viewers are taken to London's Hammersmith Hospital, held up as a shining example of socialized care, where doctors are well-paid and patients well looked after. Moore ambles through the corridors interviewing patients that acclaim the NHS's ‘free care,' and express horror at the barbarism of the American system. Indeed, the facility's "cashier" exists to give money to patients—for travel reimbursements—rather than taking it from them. But as is often the case with Moore's films, the reality is more complex.

In 2005, London's Evening Standard reported that Hammersmith Hospital would slash hundreds of jobs; the hospital, the most debt-ridden in Britain, was hemorrhaging money and desperately needed to cut costs. And while the hospital was "downsizing", Hammersmith's CEO—yes, even the NHS has an executive class—collected a year-end bonus of close to $20,000. Small beer by American standards, but enough to provoke tabloid headlines in Britain.

Much like the American hospitals Moore excoriates, Hammersmith Hospital, the Evening Standard reported, faced pressure from administrators to limit the number of patients treated in order to cut spending. In a country where the government promises to winnow down queues to 18 weeks, this isn't an anomalous problem. A recent BBC documentary accused the NHS of using dangerously high doses of radiation on patients "to save time and money."

After the critical reaction to his previous films, Moore opts for elision over outright falsehood. So when he marvels that a doctor working in the NHS owns an Audi and "million dollar home," it is hardly in his interest to point out, as The Independent did in January, that "soaring salary levels of doctors are worsening the NHS cash crisis." And while bitterly lamenting the U.S. system of "wage slavery"—American students, Moore says, are saddled with debt and, thus, "won't cause [employers] any trouble"—he ignores a recent report from the British Medical Association suggesting that, by their fifth year of medical school, British students "have accumulated an average debt of" $39,000. . . .READ MORE

"Prepare to be sickened by SICKO", by Prepare to be Sickened by SiCKO. American Thinker June 22, 2007:

From start to end, SiCKO, the latest “documentary” from notorious writer and filmmaker Michael Moore, is a stunning example of the Big Lie. Almost shockingly devoid of fact and context, it's instead based on highly selective, emotionally-driven, and deeply flawed anecdotes, strung together by writer-director-producer Moore's trademark folksy, soft-spoken, whimsical personal narrative. SiCKO (the unusual capitalization is Moore's conceit) is not a documentary at all, but a naked propaganda exercise on behalf of full-bore socialism. A better title for it would be Pinko. . . .

Monday, June 18, 2007

Michael Moore Goes Sicko on Health Care Reform, by Michael D. Tanner. June 18, 2007:

. . . Moore ignores the positive side altogether. For all its problems, the United States still provides the highest-quality health care in the world. 18 of the last 25 winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine either are U.S. citizens or work here. With no price controls, free-market U.S. medicine provides the incentives that lead to innovation breakthroughs in new drugs and other medical technologies.

U.S. companies have developed half of all the major new medicines introduced worldwide over the past 20 years, and according to a survey by the president's Council of Economic Advisors, Americans have played a key role in 80 percent of the most important medical advances of the past 30 years.

Instead, Moore focuses on life expectancy, suggesting that people in Canada, Britain, France and even Cuba live longer than Americans because of their health care systems. But most experts agree that life expectancies are a poor measure of health care, because they are affected by too many exogenous factors like violent crime, poverty, obesity, tobacco and drug use, and other issues unrelated to a country's health system. When you compare the outcome for specific diseases such as cancer or heart disease, the United States clearly outperforms the rest of the world. . . .