Feature Interview by Brad Balfour
What can be said about 53-year-old Michael Moore that hasn't been said before. He's probably one of the first documentary directors—if not the first—to become a household word in his own right, almost a celebrity who commands gossip-porn coverage and even has a team of bodyguards from time to time. In fact, it was almost a given that even with all the excellent docs that have come out this year, "Sicko" stood out enough that once again he has been nominated for an Oscar. Remember, he had won the Best Doc award in 2002 for "Bowling for Columbine."
The idea of the oversized Moore as always in action seems synonymous with who he is; he seems to be always on the move, chasing Roger Smith down in "Roger and Me" confronting Charleton Heston in "Bowling for Columbine" or trying to get interviews from various Bush administration staffers in "Farenheit 9/11." So again he is in action, running off to Cuba to get medical help for 9/11 rescue workers that they couldn't get at an affordable rate in the States in "Sicko," a damning docu-editorial about our flawed health care system.
When the trimmer, close-cropped Moore came in to present himself at a press conference for his latest film "Sicko," he certainly made an entrance being a diva-like 45 minutes late before a packed house of journalists from all over the country and world. But he made up for it speaking at great length to the many questions posed to him. Now, rather than try to distinguish between the many journalists, all questions are asked through a collective meta-journalist, "Q." The irrelevant questions and answers were simply passed over.
Q: You had to sneak the reels of the finished film on the plane to take it to Cannes; when you were making this film, did you have any idea of difficulty to get your work released?
MM: The Bush administration sent me a certified letter 10 days before the Cannes Film Festival informing me that I was under investigation for criminal and civil penalties because I took a group of 9/11 rescue workers who were not receiving health care for the injuries that they incurred as a result of helping down at Ground Zero. I took them down to Cuba and it’s illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba, unless you’re a journalist or doing journalistic endeavors.
The documentary film is a work of journalism. No laws were broken. So [it was] just an attempt by the Bush administration to use our federal agencies, as they have been known to do in the past to politically harass opponents, in this case, me.
Our lawyers felt that in order to protect the film, just in case they would come after the film, that we should make a duplicate master of it and have it stored in Canada. So in case they claimed that, if we brought back 10,000 Cuban cigars, they could confiscate those cigars. They could claim that I took blank film down there that was worth nothing essentially. We filmed scenes that were now had value because they were going to be in this movie, and thus they could potentially come and confiscate the negatives of this film.
Now to even have to say these words in a free country, that I’d have to worry about the confiscation of my film, or going after me as a documentary filmmaker simply because I want to make my movie; this is an absurd thing to even have to deal with. But I guess we had to learn to deal with a lot of absurd things in the last seven years.
Q: Are you just pissing in the wind or do you think, in your heart of hearts, that you can change anything in this country?
MM: All the medical puns kind of came into your head, right [laughs]... I do these things in part because I do believe that things will change. I believe that the American people when they’ve had enough do make their feelings known.
I was thinking about earlier this year. The American people, without any kind of organization, without any kind of political movement or whatever, stopped O.J. Simpson’s book from being published. And eventually resulted in the firing of the publisher. That was an amazing thing.
How did it happen? It was just because there was a mood, a feeling through the country that they didn’t want this book. And they didn’t think he should profit. And they didn’t particularly care for publisher, who was going to publish this book. And suddenly, no book, no publisher. How did that happen? Without any organization, money, PR, ads on TV?
Sometimes things happen when the people will it to happen. And I believe the American public has had it with this broken health care industry and system and they have been just waiting for the moment to rise up and demand change. I hope this film helps provide the spark for that.
Q: What happened to your number one "fan"—the one has operated an anti-Michael Moore site—whose wife you helped; did you have any conversations with him?
MM: The man who runs the anti-Michael Moore website who I helped in the film, I called him just before the first screening of this film at the Cannes Film Festival because I didn’t want him blind-sided by it. You know, getting a call from one of you guys or whatever. I thought the decent thing to do was to let him know that it was me that sent the check. I left a voicemail message on his phone, telling him that. Within 15 minutes, that voicemail message was placed on his site for everyone to hear, which you can hear if you want.
He immediately posted a very nice note, thanking me for helping him and wishing the film well. Now of course he’s a blogger, so he’s up and down depending on what day and how he’s feeling. But generally, he’s been at least personally to me, very thankful and grateful. It was not what everyone predicted, in terms of the people who worked on the film with me. Most people thought we were really going to tick him off.
I was the lone dissenter in that group. I felt that he would respond well to an active kindness. That he would know that even though we might have political disagreements, that this was coming from a place in my heart that believes that even he should be able to see a doctor and not have to worry about paying for it.
Q: Why do you think so many people dislike you or are against your movie without even knowing what it’s about?
MM: Who dislikes me? Do you have a list? Can I see it? What are their names? ([laughs]
Seriously, I feel like I’m in a time-warp. If you’d asked that question three years ago. Or how about ask me that question backstage at the Oscars in 2003, that’s a legitimate question. But now wait, you’re asking me that question in 2007 where 70% of the country now agrees with me and I agree with them. 70% of the country doesn’t support Mr. Bush. 70% of the country is against the war. I’m actually in the mainstream majority, which is a little weird. But that’s where I sit now. I don’t sit out on the edge, I sit here.
Four plus years ago, I was booed off the Oscar stage, for daring to suggest, in the fifth day of the war, that we’re being led to war for fictitious reasons. People did not want to hear that at that time, I understand that. Eventually they came around and realized that what I was saying both on that Oscar stage and in "Fahrenheit 9/11" was the truth.
People remembered that in "Fahrenheit 9/11," I went to a place called Walter Reed Hospital to show how the soldiers were being treated. That was three years ago. The mainstream media didn’t deal with it until a few months ago. That's the story of my life as a filmmaker. From General Motors, when no one listened then and now they’re near bankruptcy, to "Bowling for Columbine," where we still are faced with another school shooting a couple of months ago, to "Fahrenheit 9/11." That is the way it is.
Q: You've said that documentary films are journalism and that you consider yourself as a documentary filmmaker. But this film is being marketed as comedy, on the poster and in commercials. To what degree do you consider this a comedy and, by association, consider yourself a comedian?
MM: I consider myself a satirist and I think satire has always been considered a form of journalism. I mean the Op-Ed pages in our newspaper years ago always contained great satire that Mark Twain would write and others likes him. Will Rogers. In the old days, people didn’t think humor was necessarily divorced from politics, opinions, journalism.
My films are like the Op-Ed page and the Op-Ed page is in a newspaper, I think that is journalism. It’s opinion based on facts. That’s what I produce in my films. But I’m also trying to entertain people and I respect, first of all, the fact that I’m making a film. I’m not running a political movement here. I’m not a preacher. I’m a filmmaker.
First and foremost, I’m trying to make a film that people are going to love to go to on a Friday night, where they walk out of that theatre with exhilarated sense of, “Wow!” We all feel that, don’t we? Whenever we go to the movies, we wished we had this and how often do we get it? Where it’s like, “Man, I haven’t seen anything like that in a while! That was something!”
That’s what I’m going for. That’s what every filmmaker goes for. And ultimately, that’s what I’m trying to do. If a few people be thinking about some of this, maybe doing something, all the better. I’m satisfied if they have a good laugh, or a good cry, get angry, whatever, leave theatre and feel like they’ve just seen something they’ve never seen before.
When you go to my movies, you know that to be a fact. I will take you to a place you never been before. I will take you on a boat into Guantanamo Bay. You’ve never seen anybody sail a boat in the Guantanamo Bay. I will show you Mr. Richard Nixon, through his Watergate tapes, of nothing to do with Watergate, but actually talking about how these HMOs got their modern day beginnings. You’ve never seen that before and that’s what happens in my movies. Thing after thing of stuff you’re not going to get on the evening news. And I hope it’s funny—at least some of it.
Q: Did you map out the ways you went through this—what was your starting point?
MM: [Chuckles.] This film began with, like what I did on my TV show, where we save this guy’s life by embarrassing his health insurance company into paying for an operation they wouldn’t pay for. And I thought, what if we did 10 of those and made that into a feature film? That was the original idea. But then I thought, after we started doing it, that we’re only going to save 10 lives. 18,000 people each year in America die, simply because they don’t have health insurance, and God knows, how many die even with health insurance as I show in my film. I started thinking, maybe we should be taking on the larger system. Not just one company. Not just one person’s problems.
So I made a conscious decision, in the process, to change the course of the film. Then when I asked for people to send me their stories over the internet, I got a lot of stories from people who didn’t have insurance and what they’ve been through. The majority of stories were from people who had health insurance. The horror stories... The things they had to go through, thinking that they’re fully covered. “Oh, yeah, I got benefits on this job. Full benefits.”
You know how many times you’ve said that, if you had that kind of job? Wait until you get a severe illness. Wait to something happens and watch what the company does to try and not pay the bill because they can’t make a profit, if they pay all these bills.
Q: Some countries have an excellent health care system but did you find something that surprised you in a positive way about the American system—something that actually worked?
MM: One thing that surprised me in a positive way while making this film is how many doctors now, in the United States, support socialized medicine. That did not used to be the case. They were the biggest fighters and opponents of it. They now realized that they’ve been had. They supported the HMOs in the beginning. They thought managed care, keep the cost down. Insurance companies said “You’ll make more money, we’ll make more money, we’ll all make more money by providing less care.” Well, really what the insurance companies were going to do was make sure the doctor’s didn’t get paid either. Not only the patient that can’t get their operations paid for or whatever.
If you go to a doctor’s office in this country, if you went to a doctor’s office 30 years ago, there’s one person behind the window, taking your appointments, checking you out and all that, right? Now they’ve got five or six sitting behind the glass window, doing all the paperwork, on the phone, hear them yelling and screaming at the HMO. Fighting to get a $20 bill paid. Doctors have been ruined by this system. They have been demoralized by this system. Now they are the biggest supporter of real change. That is a great thing to have happened.
Q: How do you think the film will be perceived in Europe especially in countries where they live with the assumptions that society should be judged on its weakest members?
MM: As far as this film will do overseas, I think this film should act as a warning to countries like Denmark and other countries thinking of privatizing their system because they want to go to the American way. I want to say to you, I know you like us as people, right? As individuals, right? Present company included, right? But I warn you not to go our way on some of these things. Because if you go our way of creating a society of a bigger gap between the haves and the have-nots, and you have more and more have-nots in Denmark.
As you have more haves not, you know what your side is going to look like? It’s going to look like us too, in the other way, the bad way. You’re going to have more crime. You’re going to have more despair amongst those who are in the lower class, struggling to get by, scrambling for the few crumbs that are available. You don’t want to live in that society. You’re going to feel less safe in that society.
Seriously, for your own selfish reasons, don’t go that way because you won’t be able to live the way that you’ve been living. I hope this films acts as an encouragement to those who have socialized medicine, to maintain your systems. Fix them if they need to be fixed. They all have problems. Fix them but don’t throw the baby out with bath water, as they say in this country.
Q: Your trip to Cuba caused controversy. We know how the US government feels about your trip to Cuba. The Cubans, especially the Cuban population in Miami, feel that you portrayed their homeland in a kinder, more gentle way.
MM: When the Cuban community in Miami accuse me of doing anything, they’re accusing me of something they haven’t seen. They hadn't seen the film [when the first reactions were made]. So they should first see the movie [before they say anything]. When they see the movies, they’ll see that first of all, I hope that they’ll be happy that their relatives and their neighbors who still live in Cuba, at least when it comes to healthcare are being taken care of as best as possibly can be, considering that it’s a poor country.
This isn’t Michael Moore saying this. All the world health organizations, all the different independent organizations have said that Cuba has a very good health care system, especially for an impoverished nation. So I don’t think that’s news really to anybody with me saying something like that.
The important thing to remember here is that I didn’t go to Cuba. We left Miami to go to Guantanamo Bay. We were going to America, to American soil, on the island of Cuba. We were going there because after meeting these 9/11 rescue workers who were suffering from ailments they received as a result of working at Ground Zero, I then saw one day, watching C-Span Senator Frist going through a whole list of things of how well the Al-Qaeda detainees are being taken care of at Gitmo, in terms of the free universal healthcare and dental care and eye care and nutrition counseling that they received. House calls, colonoscopys, screening for cancer, etc.
They were getting better healthcare than tens of millions of Americans. I thought it somewhat ironic that the people that are accused of plotting 9/11 are receiving better healthcare from our government than the very people who ran down to save lives on 9/11. It made absolutely no sense to me. And so, I decided to take these 9/11 rescue workers to our naval base in Guantanamo Bay.
That’s what has upset the Bush administration. That’s what they’re really after because I’m going to tell my fellow Americans that the heroes of 9/11 had been neglected and ignored by our very government that says they are there for them every step of the way – which is not true. All these millions of dollars that the government put into the 9/11 funds, all the checks you wrote, I wrote, everybody wrote and we see these people suffering and dying, who ran down there and risked their lives?
I am ashamed of that as an American. And most Americans will be ashamed of that. That’s why we went down to Guantanamo Bay. Don’t ever question my patriotism. I am a patriotic American. The most patriotic thing you can do is to question your government, especially when they’re screwing up like they are, not providing health to our 9/11 rescue workers.
Q: Are you involved at all as to have the film leaked out onto the internet, to find out how that happened?
MM: Let’s talk about that for a minute. The film that’s leaked on the internet is not taken at movie theatre with a little home video camera, right? The way it’s usually done. This is an inside job. Now if you were a police detective, one of the first questions you would ask is motive. Who has a vested interest in destroying the opening of this film? Who has a vested interest in ruining the opening weekend’s box office of this movie? If I was the police or FBI investigating this felony that’s taken place, that’s where I would look. Having said that, I’m glad people were able to see my movie. I’m not a big believer in our copyright laws. I think they’re way too restrictive.
I just read Don DeLillo’s book, "Falling Man." Wonderful book. If I were suddenly to take this out of my bag and hand it to you right now and say, “Hey, you should read this. It’s great.” Would I be breaking the law? No. I’d be sharing something with you. I’m sharing work of art with you. What happens is, if you like that book, there’s a very good chance you might go on amazon.com next week and order three more of Don DeLillo’s books. Because you got the free book from me. I’ve never supported this concept of going after Napster. I think that rock bands who fought this are wrong. I think filmmakers are wrong about this. I think sharing’s a good thing.
I remember the first time I received a cassette tape of a band called The Clash. I became an instant fan of The Clash and bought their albums after that, and went to their concerts and gave them my money. But I first got it for free. Everybody’s either young in here or were young. That’s how it happens, right? So I don’t like what’s going on with this issue. But as a filmmaker, I made this film to be seen on a 40-foot screen. I don’t even like DVDs. Honest to God, in my lifetime, I might have rented a dozen DVDs. Literally gone into a video store and rented a dozen DVDs in my lifetime because I don’t like to see movies that way. I like to see them on the big screen. That’s how the filmmaker intended them to be seen.
I really hope people will go see this movie on the big screen and sit there, on opening weekend, with 300 of your fellow Americans—yelling, jeering, cheering, screaming, laughing, crying and leaving the theater like, “Whoa, let’s go have a drink and talk about this.” That’s the communal experience and that’s why the movies never die.
They said television would kill the movies. It didn’t. They said VCRs would kill the movies. It didn’t. Now they’re saying this will kill the movies. It won’t. People want to get out of the house and go to the movies! Nothing’s ever going to kill that. And I hope people do that on opening weekend. But I really think as journalists, it’s worth a phone call to the people who have a vested interest in destroying the opening weekend of this movie.
Q: Who do you think it is?
MM: I’m not a conspiracy theorist [laughs]. But if I were a cop, right? That’s question one: who has something to gain? I’m not talking about a kid going to the theatre with a little video camera, putting it up there. This is the master. This is the actual digital. It’s perfect, okay? You can’t really get that unless you’ve been able to perform an inside job essentially.
Q: What is the status of the case right now with the government regarding Cuba? How have you responded?
MM: We’ve responded to the government saying we did not break the law, that this is the work of journalism. They want us to name the names of the people that we took there, I won’t do that. We’ve taken the necessary precautions to protect the negative of the film, so that it can’t be confiscated. The next move is theirs.
Q: How will new technology help you make your films and how has that changed over the years?
MM: I think about this. If the internet didn’t exist, I don’t know how we would’ve made this film, because I was able to ask the public to send me their health care horror stories via the internet. Before the internet, how would somebody living in Boise be able to get a hold of me? I guess I could try to write a fan letter and send it to the Weinsteins and it may or may not get to me, right? But how would I be able to communicate? Who would put me on national television, saying send me your health care horror stories, when the evening news is funded by one pharmaceutical ad after another every single night. Who’s going to let me do that?
So I had access to the people through the internet and the internet allowed people to communicate directly and personally with me about their stories. That is incredible. What an incredible invention because it brings the small “D”, democracy, into shape and into form. Where we, the people, can really do something. We can create a ruckus. We can fight back. We can ask questions. We can organize. We cut out the middleman.
Before if you didn’t like something you saw in the media, you can send a letter to the editor. Maybe they’d publish it. You don’t have to worry about that anymore. You don’t have to worry about them publishing you at all. You publish yourself. This is a good thing for a free and open society. It was very helpful in the film.
The other thing is that the film was shot in high definition digital video, which at 24 frames per second, unlike the old video which was 30 frames per second and looked like video, this movie looks like a movie. It looks like it was shot on film. That’s what high definition allows you to do. It allows you to use a portable and fairly inexpensive form to shoot your movie on and yet have it look like a movie, film.
Q: How do you respond to people who say that you’re one-sided or that you use smoke and mirrors to prove your point?
MM: First of all, about sharing that appearance on "The View" with [country singer] Toby Keith, I thought that was pretty cool planning on their part because I am considered the male Dixie Chick. I didn’t get a chance to get to talk to him, but I told the producer, I said, “If you get a chance to talk to him, to say anything to Toby, tell him that it really is a good idea to let anyone know, that if you’re going to come and kill our people we will put a boot in your ass.”
Problem is, we didn’t put the boot in the ass of the people or the person who killed our people. We put the boot into people that had nothing to do with 9/11. All we’ve done now is shown the world that we’re incapable of putting a boot anywhere. When you think about it, what’s the message we’ve sent to our enemies? To the terrorists who want to kill us?
Seriously, this war has gone on longer than World War II. We defeated the Nazis, the Japanese and Mussolini in less time than it’s taken us to secure the road from the airport to downtown Baghdad and we still don’t have the roads secured yet. That’s the generals and commanders in chiefs we’ve got running this war.
What kind of message does that send to people who want to kill us if we can’t even secure the road from the airport to downtown Baghdad? It says all these people are pushovers. That’s how unsafe we are now in the world, as a result of this administration.
That’s why I loved Zbigniew Brzezinski [President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor] on Bill Maher and Bill asked him what he thinks. Bill Maher asked Zbigniew Brzezinski, who’s a Conservative Democrat, what he’ll think will happen next year in the 2008 election and Zbigniew Brzezinski said in that great accent he has, “The Republicans will be eliminated. They will be wiped out.” Wow [chuckles]. But the Democrats are known for screwing up even the easiest things.
Q: You give that impression that many US doctors are coming around to a different kind of health system, but that organized medicine, the AMA and other groups, are still very wary of government intrusion. What do you think, would that change? Did you talk to the AMA or Humana or people who were criticized or did you decide you wanted to let the stories to tell itself?
MM: I believe the mainstream media has done such an excellent job letting the health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies have their say. First of all, they advertise on the news. Many times during the year, you can open up one of our news weekly and see a 12-page advertising section sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. You can turn on your local news all across America, just about any night and hear these words, “Tonight’s health report is brought to you by blankety-blank pharmaceutical company.”
The stories of the pharmaceutical companies and the health insurance companies are being told. My film acts as a balance. I exist to provide balance, and I tell you, it isn’t much balance. They’re on every day, all day. My film is 2 hours. If for 2 hours during this entire year, people are exposed to the other side of the story, isn’t that okay? It’s amazing how they go after me.
People have said before, “You’re biased. You have only one side.” Well, yeah, I have a bias. I have a bias on behalf of the little guy who doesn’t have a say. I’m lucky enough to be able to have this bully pulpit, to be able to say the things I say, on behalf of the people who don’t have a voice.
The pharmaceutical companies and corporate America, they’ve got their voice. They own the networks and they can say whatever they want, all the time, and they do. So can we just have 2 hours for this side to have their say? I hope so, I think so. That’s what I’m trying to do.
Q: What about AMA and organized medicine's wariness about government intrusion?
MM: The AMA has been wrong on every issue. They fought Social Security. They fought Medicare. They supported the HMOs. They have been consistently wrong. I’m hoping when they see this film, we’re going to go over there and pay them a visit on Thursday in Chicago, that they’ll see the error of their ways and do the right thing from this point on.
Q: This is neither a Republican or Democratic issue, but a universal issue, yet certain right-wing press comes out and, not surprisingly, and wants to bash your movie. Why is the right wing press after you? It doesn’t make sense. You've made a movie that’s universal. Everybody is angry at healthcare.
MM: Most Americans, conservatives and liberals, would say those nine million children that go uninsured in this country, we should at least say that children have a right to see a doctor and not have to worry about paying for it. I think I’d find agreement on that across the entire political spectrum.
So why do those few remaining voices in support of the war and in support of Mr. Bush continue to attack me? They would attack me if I opened up a factory that produced American flags. And I spent the day promoting the sale. In fact, if I gave away a thousand American flags every day, they’d find some way to go after me.
If I didn’t exist, they would have to invent me. What else would they do on their talk radio and on their cable news? The right wing media, they already sound like dinosaurs and I think their days are numbered, in terms of how the American people are responding to them. I’ve read a lot of reviews of this movie. There’s literally one bad review of this movie—theirs! They must feel awfully lonely on this. I look at that and think will I ever catch a break with these people?
Q: Is it important?
MM: Is it important that I catch a break with them? I’m just like you. I want people to like me.
Q: You reportedly lost 30 pounds. You look great. When researching the failings of the health care system what inspired you? What else has inspired you?
MM: I have been waiting for US Weekly to ask me to do a spread. They have my number. While I was making this film, obviously I saw a lot of people who were sick and who were victims of our healthcare system. A number of them, I thought, probably could’ve avoided this broken system, had they changed a few things in terms of their lifestyle or their environment.
I started thinking about that and about myself. I began to think it was a little hypocritical to be making a health care documentary when I wasn’t taking care of my own health. I started to do a few things differently. I’m from the mid-west, guys like me, we don’t go on diets. We don’t do well in spinning classes. We should be smart enough to know that by eating a few fruits and vegetables everyday and going for a walk everyday, can’t be a bad thing.
So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve tried to alter a few of the things that I eat. Nothing big, nothing special. And I try to go for 30 minutes to an hour everyday for good brisk walk. In doing just that, I’ve dropped 30 pounds in three months. I’ve read this book. Actually Roger Ebert gave me this book and turned me on to this Pritikin program. I don’t know if you remember it or heard about it. And I’ll give you a basic essence of it if you want to hear about this. I’ll take 20 seconds and tell you the essence of the program.
Number one, you take 10,000 steps a day. You get a little pedometer and put it on your belt. Take 10,000 steps a day. Number two, eat 35 grams of fiber everyday. Eat foods that will give you 35 grams of fiber. Number three, get 7-8 hours sleep a night. If you do those three things, you’ll get yourself in decent shape.
The 35 grams of fiber is had by eating foods that are heavy in weight but low in calories. By eating foods that are heavy in weight, it fills up your stomach and you’re not hungry. It’s essentially like gastric bypass, except naturally. You fill up your stomach so there’s no room and there and your brain isn’t going, “Feed me.” So I eat baked potatoes for instance, or apples or oatmeal. Things like that, that are heavy in weight, but low in calorie. The thing is a baked potatoes is one hundred calories.
How many baked potatoes can you eat? If you get through the second one, you pretty much have to cut yourself off after two baked potatoes. A handful of Planters peanuts is 200 calories. So a handful of Planters peanuts, is that going to fill you up? No. Two baked potatoes, you’re full. And they’re both 200 calories. So that’s the Pritikin idea. The satiety method, of being satiated by eating oatmeal, apples, potatoes.
Has this helped anybody? I’m on a long road though. I got a long way to go. So we’ll see me next movie if I stuck to this. But geez, I feel 100 percent better. I encourage others to take care of themselves but you will not see the Michael Moore/Jane Fonda work-out tape any time soon.
Q: When people call you one sided and the propaganda, what do you say? Did the doctors in Cuba get advance notice that you were coming, so they put together a big show of advanced medical treatment which the average person would never get...
MM: Yeah, I get the question. Very quickly. We insisted we’ve been given the same treatment as they give their Cuban patients. So you see in the film, there are no private rooms. There’s three people to a room. There’s no curtains. It’s pretty spartan, what you would expect in a third world country.
Here’s a story I’ll tell you. Reggie Cervantes, one of the 9/11 rescue workers— the woman in the film—speaks Spanish. She had the same thought you had. Same question…not that she’s a Post reader. She worried about the same thing. Are they just doing this because Michael Moore is here? Cameras are present.
So one night, after I left with the cameras, without telling me, she snuck out of the hospital. Snuck out of her room, went downstairs, outside, came back in. pretending to be a Cuban, and she speaks Spanish, to see if the same procedures would happen. She said the same exact same happened, as when we had the cameras there. Check-in was, “Your name? Your date of birth? And what’s wrong with you?”, and they’d immediately took her to a screening room and started the procedures to take care of her, without knowing that she was already suppose to be upstairs. She said the next day, “I knew then, that the treatment we were getting was the real deal. And I felt so much better, having tested it myself without the cameras around.”
Q: In the movie you praised the Clinton health care initiative. In that program actually would’ve afforded HMO’s essential role.
Q: But they would’ve been heavily regulated. Are you suggesting that if HMOs are regulated, there can be a role for them?
MM: No. There should be no role for them. Private health insurance should be eliminated. I praised Hillary Clinton in the film for her initial efforts because she was the one that stuck her neck out. Her plan wasn’t the best plan but at least she was brave enough to say something should happen.
The HMOs now are going to wish that they supported Hillary’s plan, because she would’ve allowed them to continue. What I, and the nurses' unions, and millions of Americans are going to advocate for is their permanent removal from our healthcare system.