Sicko can not spark a movement that already exists. The Campaign for
Better Healthcare has been around for years and has working on a state
by state strategy (similar to what happened in Canada) to achieve
universal, single payor healthcare. Moore has had representatives speak
at rallies for the opening of the film all over the US in addition to
the groups listed in the article.
I think the gist of this article is in many ways is to discount the
actual movement that exists and to instead criticize what many
politicians are putting forward in an attempt to appease the insurance
companies. From what I understand, politicians still do not feel there
is enough support to cut the insurance companies out. This can't happen
until there is a large enough movement to support such a move. As a
consequence, the actual proposals on the table nation-wide appear to be
along the lines of subsidizing insurance companies. That is certainly
true here in Illinois.
But no progressives who are proposing these solutions are proposing them
as the final step. They are merely a first step to get consensus behind
universal coverage. Posing this approach against single payer is one of
the reasons that the left forces who do this remain isolated and
marginalized (by no means do all left forces take this view). Right now
is an opportunity to actually get out there with the masses and organize
around this issue. Moore and others are great allies. I think what is
needed as an approach is a "yes, but" approach to work with middle force
rather than the straight up "no" approach that we see here in Illinois
and that has for the most part knocked the most progressive healthcare
organization, Health and Medicine, out of the action.
What the politicians put forward will always represent the most right
interpretation that is possible. That is why we need to focus on
organizing the masses around the next step and the next step after
that. This is how we build a movement in reality, organizing over a
good idea with no credible organizing strategy is just pissing in the
wind. It might make some of it boosters feel good, but it is
objectively apolitical in my mind, it does not take into account actual
political forces and how to actually move forward.
Phil Gasper wrote:
> *Will Sicko spark a movement?*
> July 6, 2007 | Pages 4 and 5
> ALAN MAASS reports on the overwhelming response to Michael Moore's
> Sicko--and the potential of a movement to win fundamental change.
> MICHAEL MOORE'S film Sicko has become a lightning rod for all the
> anger with the U.S. health care system--and activists who support
> radical health care reform were on hand to show tens of thousands of
> people who saw the film what they can do about it.
> At sneak previews across the country last month, the red carpet
> outside the theater wasn't for preening and paparazzi, but picket lines.
> Members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) traveled to the
> premieres on a bright red bus that let them off to hold protests and
> pass out information before each screening. Also on the bus were
> representatives of Physicians for a National Health Program and a
> number of other unions, including state chapters of the American
> Nurses Association, the United Steel Workers and the Communications
> Workers of America.
> The tour was capped off with a turnout of nurses and doctors at
> theaters in 30 cities when the film officially opened to sold-out
> audiences June 29.
> Some reporters from the mainstream media complained that chanting
> nurses interfered with their red-carpet interviews of Moore, but the
> activists got a warmer greeting from audience members.
> "I think that one of most notable things was how universal the
> response was, no matter which city we went to," said Jan Rodolfo, a
> CNA member and nurse at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in
> Oakland, Calif., who traveled across the country on the bus.
> In Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., said Rodolfo, the first five rows
> of the theater were reserved for nurses, and in New York, the CNA
> members escorted Moore into the theater and stood with him as he
> introduced the film. "In every premiere, there were people weeping,"
> she said. "And when the film was over, there were people walking out
> of the theater, just demanding to know what they could do to change
> According to the CNA, at least 10,000 nurses have signed up to help in
> a campaign to win legislation from Congress creating a "single-payer"
> system that would cut out private insurance companies, and expand a
> vastly improved Medicare system to cover every person in the country.
> "There were huge numbers of nurses, in particular, coming out in the
> different cities, who had never been involved in unions or health care
> reform activism before, and who were just beyond excited to be there
> and wanting to get involved for the first time," Rodolfo said.
> The impact of the movie was felt beyond the theaters where the
> activists turned out.
> A movie reviewer in Dallas--the heart of Bush country--described how
> he emerged from the bathroom after a screening to find that "[t]he
> entire Sicko audience had somehow formed an impromptu town hall
> meeting in front of the ladies room...[H]ere these people were,
> complete strangers from every walk of life, talking excitedly about
> the movie. It was as if they simply couldn't go home without doing
> something drastic about what they'd just seen."
> The meeting ended, said the reviewer, with an exchange of e-mail
> addresses and plans to "get together and do something...It was like I
> was standing there at the birth of a new political movement."
> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> SICKO IS perfectly made to give form to the simmering bitterness with
> U.S. health care system. Its focus is on the victims of the system--in
> particular, people who thought they were fully covered, but discovered
> they really weren't when they needed it.
> That's a familiar story--as Moore learned when he made an appeal on
> YouTube for people to reach him with their "health care horror
> stories." In the first 24 hours, he got than 3,700 responses. More
> than 25,000 people had contacted him by the time a week had passed.
> People often live through their own health care nightmares without a
> sense that the system is a source of frustration for millions of other
> people throughout U.S. society. Sicko is changing that.
> Politicians of both parties are alert to the discontent. But their
> rhetorical flair in sympathizing with victims of the health care
> system hasn't been matched by action.
> The latest mantra among politicians of both parties is "universal
> health coverage." Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney claims
> he achieved it with a Massachusetts law passed while he was governor,
> and Oregon's Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden says this is the goal of his
> Healthy Americans Act, proposed in Congress late last year.
> But in reality, these bipartisan proposals would be a cash cow for the
> insurance industry--and would worsen the health care crisis facing
> working people.
> In Massachusetts, for example, Romney's "universal coverage" proposal
> requires all residents to be signed up with a health insurance plan by
> the beginning of this month, or face a stiff penalty on state income
> taxes. On the other hand, fines for companies that don't meet
> requirements for providing health coverage for employees are a drop in
> the bucket.
> The effect of the law will be to undermine the already ailing
> employer-provided insurance system, while driving the uninsured into
> stripped-down insurance plans, with high deductibles and out-of-pocket
> costs--the very plans that Sicko took special aim at.
> Instead, Sicko stakes out the case for a real alternative--a
> single-payer system that eliminates private insurance and covers everyone.
> That's created an awkward situation for the leading Democratic
> presidential candidates, who have put forward health care proposals
> that, on closer look, have a lot in common with the "universal
> coverage" shell game. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Hillary
> Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards "all have staked out positions
> sharply at odds with Moore's approach. But none of them is eager to
> have that fact dragged into the spotlight."
> The liberal Internet network MoveOn.org tried to blur the differences
> between Moore's call for fundamental change and the Democrats' proposals.
> "Several 2008 candidates--John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, and Barack
> Obama--have plans to guarantee affordable health care for everyone
> with a public insurance option," MoveOn said in an e-mail to members.
> "These are the most forward-thinking proposals ever seen in a
> presidential race."
> But only Kucinich supports single-payer legislation. Edwards' and
> Obama's plans fall short of "guaranteeing affordable health care for
> As for these being the "most-forward thinking proposals ever seen in a
> presidential race," Democrat Harry Truman backed a far more radical
> national health insurance plan in his 1948 presidential campaign, and
> for decades after, Democrats regularly affirmed their commitment to
> this goal--though they didn't do much to work toward it.
> On its bus tour, the CNA challenged not only Democrats but other
> unions that have made concessions to the health care industry, rather
> than commit to a single-payer proposal.
> CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro accused the Service Employees
> International Union (SEIU) in particular of giving cover to
> politicians who refuse to support legislation for a single-payer
> system. "[I]t makes [the politicians] look like they are accomplishing
> something when in fact they are accomplishing nothing," DeMoro told
> the Corporate Crime Reporter.
> The proposals put forward by Clinton, Edwards and Obama are the
> product of 30 years of retreat and rightward shifts in official
> Washington politics.
> By contrast, ordinary people are clearly ready for much stronger
> measures. According to a CNN poll in May, 64 percent of people said
> they thought the government should "provide a national health
> insurance program for all Americans, even if this would require higher
> taxes." A New York Times/CBS poll in February found that six in 10
> people were willing to pay higher taxes so that everyone had insurance.
> According to the Public Policy Institute of California, its survey
> found that "by a two-to-one margin, most prefer 'a universal health
> insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like
> Medicare that is run by the government and financed by the taxpayers'
> nationally to 'the current health insurance system in the United
> States, in which most people get their health insurance from private
> employers, but some people have no insurance.'"
> As Rodolfo pointed out, "The public in general in the U.S. is ready
> for some kind of universal health care, but it isn't clear enough
> about what that needs to look like." If a case isn't made for a
> genuine alternative, she said, it's easy for people to be pulled
> toward one of the more "realistic" proposals.
> "[M]y sense is that up until this movie came out, you could be Hillary
> Clinton or Barack Obama or John Edwards--or even Rudolph Giuliani or
> Mitt Romney--and be out there talking about supporting universal
> health care, and the folks you're talking to weren't looking for a
> distinction in terms of what that actually meant," Rodolfo said.
> "So my hope now is that any time one of these politicians stands up
> and advocates for health care reform that would expand the private
> health insurance industry, people are going to stand up and go, wait a
> second, the health insurance industry is the problem, not the solution.
> "I'm hoping that the movie is going to bring a new consciousness about
> the role of insurance companies, in particular, as the root of the
> problem, and it will really refocus things on single-payer."
> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> THE SINGLE-payer legislation sponsored by Reps. John Conyers and
> Dennis Kucinich is a stark contrast to the half-measures and
> concessions to industry floated by other politicians.
> Known as HR 676, it would create a comprehensive system under which
> everyone--all U.S. residents, regardless of immigration status, from
> cradle to grave--is covered by a single, government-administered
> health program. The proposal would forbid "a private health insurer to
> sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided"
> under the government system.
> The bill would allow a mix of private and public health care
> providers, but all private companies would have to convert to
> not-for-profit status--though over a too-generous 15-year "transition"
> Estimates of funding for the program are $1.9 trillion a year--to be
> raised through the already existing Medicare tax on employees and
> employers, an additional payroll tax on employers (which nevertheless
> would still pay less per worker for health care than under the current
> system), and increased taxes on the wealthy and big corporations and
> Mainstream politicians claim that a single-payer system is a pipe
> dream--and that their "universal coverage" proposals are more "realistic."
> But the problem, as Sicko makes clear, is built into the fabric of a
> privatized system. As Nation reviewer Christopher Hayes put it, Sicko
> shows why "if single-payer is ever going to come to America, it's
> going to be over the insurance companies' dead bodies."
> A single-payer system would be only a first step toward truly rational
> health care. For example, though the government system would negotiate
> a better deal on drug prices, pharmaceutical companies would remain
> private. And in other countries with national health care, any
> restrictions in coverage have served as the means for private insurers
> to undermine the state system by "supplementing" it.
> But a single-payer system in the U.S. would be a huge advance. Above
> all, it would establish in the U.S. the principle that exists in other
> industrialized countries--that health care is a right, guaranteed to
> everyone. The fundamental priority, as left-wing British Labour Party
> leader Tony Benn says in Sicko, "is solidarity."
> The health care industry won't give in without a sustained
> struggle--one that organizes health care providers as part of a
> broader political mobilization to demand change.
> It will take more than a movie to win the kind of dramatic change
> that's needed to begin fixing the American health care system. But
> this movie--along with the efforts of the activists who greeted
> viewers outside the theaters with information on how to get
> involved--could be the first spark of a new movement.
> *What you can do*
> Go to the California Nurses Association <http://www.calnurse.org/> Web
> site for more information on the activist campaign accompanying the
> movie Sicko. The CNA's Guaranteed Healthcare
> <http://www.guaranteedhealthcare.org/> Web site is filled with health
> care horror stories from both patients and providers, plus ideas of
> how to get involved in organizing for a change.
> The Physicians for a National Health Program <http://www.pnhp.org/>
> Web site makes the case for a government-administered single-payer
> program and has information on single-payer legislation sponsored by
> Rep. John Conyers. Healthcare-Now <http://www.healthcare-now.org/>
> posts a regularly updated calendar showing events around the issue of
> health care.
> For a compact history of U.S. health care policy and the struggles for
> a national health program, from the progressive era to today, read/
> One Nation, Uninsured: Why the U.S. Has No National Health Insurance/,
> by Jill Quadagno. Donald Barlett and James Steele's/ Critical
> Condition: How Health Care in America Became Big Business--and Bad
> Medicine/ is a fact-packed expose of the for-profit health care industry.
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