Sicko


Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Robin Clifford 
Sicko
Laura Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Laura Clifford 

Uber documaker Michael Moore has taken on, in the past, General Motors in “Roger & Me,” violence in America in “Bowling for Columbine” and September 11 in Farenheit 9/11.” Now, the gloves come off once again as he turns his camera on the trillion dollar health care industry in America in “Sicko.”

Robin:
According to Moore, nearly 50 million Americans do not have or cannot afford health care. But, “Sicko” is not about these hapless uninsured. Instead, he turns his eye toward the rest of the Americans, 250 million of us, that do and the industry that is less concerned with the public’s health and care and more concerned with enormous, and I mean enormous, profits.

The doc focuses, at first, on individual Americans who pay for health care but refused treatment by the providers for being too thin, too fat, too young or for whatever reason they can come up with to avoid paying out. Some are refused because they have a preexisting condition – in the case of one young woman for having had, at one time, yeast infection – or that the treatment is “experimental.” It chronicles how doctors receive bonuses from the health care companies when they refuse to treat a patient for the above reasons and more. Many of which are ludicrous.

Moore gives historical shrift to the current state of the American health care system by way of President Richard Nixon’s push for the HMO system designed to reduce health care to American in favor of more and more profits to the providers, Henry Kaiser and his conglomerate in particular. Less care for more money.

Sicko” also chronicles the campaign by health care providers to stop a national health program because it is that evil demon - socialized medicine. Moore shifts gears when he goes to those countries that have, over the past decades, nationalized their health care systems – Canada, Great Britain, France and, even, Cuba. He shatters the myth that these nations provide inferior care for their citizens and visitors and interviews those individuals who benefit from socialized medicine. Moore hammers home the need for health care reform, using the internees at Guantanomo Bay to show that even terrorists have better health care than the average American.

Sicko,” I hope, influences the powers-that-be to initiate reforms that will guarantee all of us proper, affordable and available health care. Moore failed, with “Farenheit 9/11,” to keep George Bush from reelection in 2004. My wish is that he succeeds with his latest quest. I give it a B.

Laura:
Michael Moore must be reading his own reviews.  After employing manipulative editing tricks, playing too fast and loose with the facts and staging scenes starring himself in his "Bowling for Columbine" and "Fahrenheit 9/11," Moore takes a more straightforward if none less impassioned approach to his latest subject - the state of U.S. Healthcare.

Moore, who does not appear until almost an hour into his film, begins with narration as he recounts stories sad and absurd.  He surprises us by informing us that "Sicko" is not a film for the 50 million uninsured, but for the 250 million Americans who actually have health care.  What you see and hear will astound and anger you.

"Sicko" also provides the historical context for how we find ourselves in this state, tracing the rise of the HMO to Richard Nixon's approval of the Edgar Kaiser business model - less care means higher profits.  Once again, greed can be seen to be the root of all evil.

And sure, Moore maybe plays a bit fast and loose with the benevolent coverage he gives to the national health care plans of England, Canada and France (my aunt in England waited 2.5 years for a cataract operation, for example), but surely they are still doing something that works far better than what the U.S. has, where people are turned away from receiving urgently needed treatment and literally dumped on the streets when they cannot pay their bills.

Moore the showboater cannot keep from showing his true colors - he relates his 'anonymous' giving of $12K to the MooreWatch webmaster who was on the brink of closing down the site due to medical costs as if he is completely unaware of his own cat that ate the canary duplicity.  A trip to Guantanamo to get health care for 9/11 workers shrieks of show biz, but his subsequent trip to Havana is truly moving.  Too bad he chose a weak gag to wrap his film when he could so easily given a gut punch.

If "Fahrenheit 9/11" didn't succeed in keeping Bush out of office for a second term, perhaps "Sicko" will put the health care crisis on a par with Iraq on the agendas of those seeking election in 2008.

B
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