So "Sicko" has finally landed. The Michael Moore film came out in my neighborhood theater last Friday, and I went right over to see what all the excitement was about.
"Sicko" is very watchable -- Michael Moore is a very funny man and he uses his droll wit to capitalize on the stupid human follies within the health care system. But the question in my mind was a simple one: Would the movie create momentum to push health care reform forward?
The answer I come up with is, not likely.
For those of us with an interest in state and local government, Moore doesn't stray into that arena -- he doesn't tackle Medicaid or state attempts to provide universal coverage to its citizens. In fact, he leaves government out of it entirely.
His target is the private insurance system, which he compares unfavorably to the health care systems in place in Canada, Great Britain, France and Cuba. And that's why the film is unlikely to be a force for reform. It's too much of a polemic. Moore showcases the successes of those other systems but doesn't so much as hint at some of the problems they have -- and they do have them. We in the U.S. may suffer long waits at emergency rooms [Moore shows how that is not the case in these other systems], but in Canada, for instance, there can be long, long waits -- months -- for something like eye surgery or hip replacement surgery.
And Cuba, which has done an admirable job training physicians and bringing extensive primary care to even rural parts of the country, suffers from severe shortages of equipment and supplies. When I went to Cuba a few years ago, it was suggested by the tour leaders that if we on the tour wanted to bring something to Cuba we should bring medicine -- aspirin, expired prescriptions and the like.
A little more of an even hand would have made "Sicko" a more powerful force for change.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.