Senior Correspondent

U.S. movie maker Michael Moore (c) listens to politicians as he stands behind U.S. Rep.and U.S. Presidential Candidate Dennis J. Kucinich (r) (D-OH) and Representative John Conyers Jr.�s (l) (D-MI) June 20, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Mr. Moore was there to promote his new movie �Sicko� bringing up the issue of health care in the U.S.

WASHINGTON ( – Thanks to a greedy health care and insurance industry which earns its profits literally by denying patients health services, the ranks are growing of people in the United States who are un-insured, or under-insured concerning their health care coverage, a Congressional panel was told June 20 on Capitol Hill.

Skyrocketing health costs in this country are bankrupting more and more people, with more than half of the two million bankruptcies caused by medical expenses. “Health care is a human right to which everyone should have access,” Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told a packed hearing room, as hundreds more people waited in line in the aisles. The main attraction: Director Michael Moore, who spoke with 24 House members–supporters and co-sponsors of H.R. 676, the “Medicare For All, National Health Insurance Act.”

“There’s a new villain on screens…but it’s not the villain you’ll see in Spider Man or Harry Potter, Mr. Moore told the audience. “The villain is the health insurance industry of America.” Mr. Moore’s new movie SiCKO premiered in Washington after a day of health-care lobbying at the Capitol. The movie opens nationwide on June 29.


The movie is a punishing critique of the profit-driven U.S. healthcare system, the Oscar-winning director of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine said. Instead of focusing on the nearly 50 million people in this country without any health insurance, SiCKO looks at the 250 million people in this country who have insurance, but who are often abandoned when they get ill, even after paying into the system for decades.

Mr. Conyers said Mr. Moore’s movie is the most important development in the health care debate since former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton tried for universal health care legislation in the early 1990s.

The proposed legislation authored by Mr. Conyers is comprehensive because it makes the federal government the “single payer” of all medical bills, and extends coverage to all, meaning: “universal access to healthcare for everyone, period,” according to a statement from the California Nurses Association.

Health care reform has been shot down before, and faces formidable opposition now, but Mr. Conyers compares this fight to his own efforts in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death to create a national holiday in honor of the civil rights leader. His colleagues in the House confided privately that they supported his holiday bill but told him, “You know you can’t win.”

“I’m going to take that, ‘You know you can’t win,’ and turn it into, ‘Together we all can win,’” Mr. Conyers said.

Mr. Moore said the key to fixing America’s healthcare crisis is to eliminate health insurance providers who work in favor of maximum profits rather than maximum health.

“They can still have fire insurance and car insurance, there’s still other work they can do,” Mr. Moore said. “But there’s no room for them in healthcare because we’re human beings, not automobiles.”

Mr. Conyers’s bill aims to create universal health care access by expanding Medicare access to all U.S. residents and creating a universal non-profit system over the next 15 years. The program would prevent private insurance companies from selling health insurance, and it would raise payroll taxes on businesses to pay for expanded public care.

Under H.R. 676, every person living in the U.S. would receive a National Health Insurance Card upon enrollment. The program will cover all medically necessary services, including primary care, inpatient care, outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, mental health services, dentistry, eye care, chiropractic, and substance abuse treatment.

Conservative critics condemn the Conyers measure for “government interference,” calling the plan “socialized medicine.”

“I think we need to stop calling it ‘socialized medicine.’ I prefer to call it ‘Christianized medicine, because it is what Jesus would do,” said Mr. Moore. “His mandate to us who are Christians–and it’s not just the Christian religion–it’s the Jewish religion; it’s the Muslim faith. All faiths, really, teach this issue, that we will be judged by how we treat the least among us. We will be asked: ‘When I was hungry did you feed me? When I was homeless, did you give me shelter? When I was sick, did you take care of me?’ Isn’t that? Did I remember that?” Mr. Moore said to the cheering audience.

The goal of H.R. 676 is to “ensure that all Americans will have access, guaranteed by law, to the highest quality and most cost effective health care services regardless of their employment, income, or health care status,” according to Mr. Conyers.

Mr. Moore’s film reports that two of this country’s neighbors–Canada and Cuba, where profit and greed have been removed from the health-care system–both have superior health care systems and greater life-expectancy than in the U.S. In the movie, three New York firefighters who rushed into Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001, but who were denied medical treatment by insurers in this country, were taken by Mr. Moore to Cuba, where they received life-saving medical treatment.

Mr. Moore and his group went to Havana Hospital, where a swarm of doctors descended on them, and they visit a neighborhood pharmacy where one worker discovers the medicine that costs her $120 at home goes for five cents in Havana.

“Cuba is a very poor country, our embargo has made life very difficult for them, and yet in spite of that they are able to put together a healthcare system that guarantees they have a better life span than we do, a better infant mortality rate and more doctors per capita,” Mr. Moore said in an interview. “They’ve done quite well with what they have.”

The U.S. medical system is dominated by “merchants of death,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan writes in his book “A Torchlight for America”: “There’s tremendous profit in promoting the death-dealing lifestyles that many of us lead. You may not believe it, but the leading promoters of our destructive lifestyles are the United States government, the food and drug industries and the medical community.

“According to the Rand Corporation, in a statement published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, ‘one-fourth of hospital days, one-fourth of procedures, and two-fifths of medications could be done without.’ I want you to think about this. Because it should be no secret that when there’s a profit to be made, regardless to its adverse effects on human life, there are always those who will choose wealth over the health of the American people…It is now being proven by scientists that what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught on how to eat to live–one meal a day, no snacks in between meals, and to eat only the best foods–is absolutely correct and good for the body,” writes Min. Farrakhan.

Health-care industry profits are made by insurance companies which deny medical claims, bankrupting those who are ill, and by pharmaceutical companies which make money by selling pills to sick people, rather than by preventing illness, or by discovering cures for illnesses. In less than 10 years, said Mr. Moore, the number of pharmaceutical companies engaged in research for medical cures decreased from 25 to just five. Drug makers would rather sell pills to patients for the next 30 or 40 years, than find a cure for those ailments, he said.

“You wouldn’t expect the fire department to post a profit. You wouldn’t privatize your city police force and bring in the rent-a-cop to do the job. We need to look at health care in the same sort of way, that health care is a life and death issue, like the fire department. Like the police department,” said Mr. Moore.