Michael Moore Trains Eye on Health Care Michael Moore is known for causing corporations and public officials some discomfort in documentaries such as Roger and Me and Fahrenheit 9/11. In his latest picture, Sicko, he casts a critical look at the U.S. health care system.
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Michael Moore Trains Eye on Health Care

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Michael Moore Trains Eye on Health Care

Michael Moore Trains Eye on Health Care

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Back now with DAY TO DAY and to an unusual scene last night on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

(Soundbite of crowd)

BRAND: Skid Row has become known as the location of so-called patient dumping from some local hospitals. But last night it was host to a movie premiere, Michael Moore's "Sicko," about the health care business in America.

Mr. MICHAEL MOORE (Filmmaker): This is the real L.A. premiere of my new movie.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. MOORE: They have scheduled the Hollywood premiere for tomorrow night. But I said the real premiere should take place tonight right here at the Union Rescue Mission.

BRAND: Meanwhile, earlier in the day and a metaphoric million miles away, a very different scene.

(Soundbite of hotel)

BRAND: I showed up at the swanky Four Seasons Hotel; it's about a block away from Beverly Hills, along with dozens of other journalists looking for an audience with Michael Moore.

So tell me what's this like, this junket here in Four Seasons, one after another after another?

Mr. MOORE: Well, it's - the first thing I had to do is get them to take down the poster of the movie that they always have in these interviews, the TV interviews, you know? They put up a big poster of the movie behind you like it's an ad, right? This should be news. I mean we should be having the discussion with news people. Why are they participating in an advertising thing?

BRAND: But that's what this is, the junket.

Mr. MOORE: Well, I guess that's what it usually is. But I'd rather have an intelligent conversation about the issues that I'm raising.

BRAND: Okay. Let's go.

Mr. MOORE: Okay.

BRAND: Let's have one.

Mr. MOORE: Okay.

BRAND: And off we go. Problem is this is a junket. So we only get 10 minutes to talk about some big issues, like his feelings about the American insurance industry. Here's a clip from the movie.

(Soundbite of movie, "Sicko")

Mr. MOORE: Laura Burnham was in a 45-mile-an-hour head-on collision that knocked her out cold. Paramedics got her out of the car and into an ambulance for a trip to the hospital.

Ms. LAURA BURNHAM: I get a bill from my insurance company telling me that the ambulance ride was not going to be paid for because it wasn't pre-approved. I don't know exactly when I was supposed to pre-approved it, you know, like after I gained consciousness in the car, before I got in the ambulance? Or...

BRAND: I asked him if there's any compromise from the no insurance company single-payer government-funded system he demands in "Sicko."

Mr. MOORE: Sure.

BRAND: Like what?

Mr. MOORE: Oh, I'd be willing to leave 12 million Americans off the rolls, uninsured. You know, what's 12 million? Right? We're a big country. No, I'm - obviously I'm kidding. No, there is no compromise.

Some things, there is no compromise, you know? Would you be willing to accept a compromise of letting some women vote, and not others? Or some African Americans having civil rights but not others? You know. No. Some things there is no compromise. Some issues are black and white and this is one of them.

BRAND: That single payer is the only way to go when it comes to health insurance.

Mr. MOORE: That you should not have a private, profit-making insurance company in the middle between the doctor and the patient. That is crazy. The doctor should be able to decide what the patient needs and then perform the procedure. And the patient should not have to worry about whether or not they can afford it, just as if your house was on fire, you shouldn't have to worry about whether or not you can afford to have the fire department put it out.

BRAND: I'm wondering - you made "Bowling for Columbine," basically advocating for gun control; "Fahrenheit 9/11." In both cases I think what you wanted, gun control and a change in leadership at the White House, didn't happen. Are you thinking that in this case the same thing might not happen, that you will have made a very popular movie that people go see, but then in the end nothing really happens in terms of public policy?

Mr. MOORE: The film wasn't so much a plea for gun control as it was a plea for Americans to ask themselves why they feel a need to have a quarter-billion guns in our homes. What is it about us and why when we have these guns do we then use them on each other when it doesn't happen in other countries?

In "Fahrenheit 9/11" I proposed the possibility that we were being led to war for false reasons. Now, three years later, 70 percent of the country is against the war. You know, somebody had to get the ball rolling here. Somebody had to say it first. So I was willing to take that risk, and I said it. And I got booed off the Oscar stage for saying it. But I knew at that time that people once they had the information, they'll come along, they'll do the right thing.

BRAND: And so you feel optimistic in this case that they will?

Mr. MOORE: Oh, absolutely. If anything, I mean, I don't have to convince the American public that we have a broken health care system. I think the majority of Americans, because they have to go through that health care system, already know it.

BRAND: Let me ask you, you're known for your kind of guerrilla tactics, and confronting people; "Roger & Me" obviously, trying to find and confront Roger Smith of GM. And now that you're so well-known, your face is actually on the movie poster, is it impossible for you to do that anymore? And do you miss doing that?

Mr. MOORE: It is hard to get into places. You're right, it is. On the other hand, I've also found that because I'm known, I get stories from everyday people that otherwise I would never have learned about these things. But they know that I'm the one who's going to stand up and say something, do something, maybe, and so they reach me through the Internet or whatever, and so I get a lot of great stories that way that otherwise I wouldn't get them.

BRAND: Did you get this idea from people writing into you?

Mr. MOORE: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I mean, most of the people, the Americans in the movie are stories that we heard about, people wrote to us about. And you know before the Internet, how would I have ever learned those stories, you know? And we would had to rely on the media to do its job. There's a scary thought.

BRAND: Do you consider yourself a member of the media, a journalist?

Mr. MOORE: Yeah, I think what I do is a work of journalism. You know, it's more like the op-ed page though. I mean, these are my opinions and my point of view. The opinions are mine and I let you make up your own mind.

BRAND: In "Sicko" Michael Moore praises the health care systems of a number of other countries, including Britain and France, which famously allows for home visits from government workers willing to bring soup and do a new mother's laundry.

Do you want to move to France?

Mr. MOORE: No, I want France to move here. I want the French thinking to be our thinking. I like their way of thinking, you know? We have a lot to be grateful to the French for. You know, they helped us with our revolution. We might not have beaten the British without the French help. They gave us that beautiful statue that sits in the harbor in New York City. And they invented sex. I mean, you know, we should be grateful to them for that. Before the French it was just procreation, you know? Then they came along and made it interesting.

BRAND: Well, Michael Moore, thank you very much.

Mr. MOORE: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

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