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Leave it to Michael Moore to figure out a way to lend a helping hand, albeit one he admits really “ain’t much when what you really need is a job or a place to live”, by getting movie theaters in some of the nation’s hardest hit cities to offer a free screening of “Capitalism” tonight. Here’s the email Michael sent out this morning, with lists of free screenings AND benefit screenings included. Can’t wait to see the movie soon! Read the rest of this entry »
(***CIGNA response added below on 12/23***)How unfortunate it is that it takes the death of such a young individual, Nataline Sarkisyan, to get people to pull their heads out of the sand and realize how unfair and unjust the health care system is in the United States. We get Los Angeles television stations in my area and it goes without saying that this local, heartbreaking story has been topping all our newscasts. As horrible as it sounds to say, I am glad to see that this case and its dire results due to CIGNA’s horrific money-grubbing choices, is also getting the national (and international) attention it needs in order to garner action by those fed up with the constant stream of people dying much sooner than they need to–all in the name of insurance companies making a profit.
I blogged about Nataline’s passing shortly after hearing the news (including informational links and a video by her brother), but so much more information and responses are coming out, so I thought I’d create this blog entry to list them. I’m including in the California Nurses Association section below, a video they put together focusing on the fight on Nataline’s behalf on the day she died. The first video posted here is a CNN report. I’ll add more links and videos as I run across them.
“Too late for transplant“-CNN
California Nurses Association (CNA) web site:
- Read approval letter from CIGNA
- RN’s statement on death of Nataline Sarkisyan
- Legislative advocacy
- California Nurses Association YouTube channel
CIGNA 12/21/07 statement-Press-Telegram
“Our deepest sympathies are with Nataline’s family. Their loss is immeasurable, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.
“We deeply hope that the outpouring of concern, care and love that are being expressed for Nataline’s family help them at this time.”
What you “deeply hope” CIGNA, is that your callous disregard for human life exhibited in this case, and most assuredly countless others, does not come back to bite you in the ass. I, on the other hand, hope it most certainly does! Please allow me to take the first bite, on behalf of Nataline and all the others you have sent to an early grave.
Michael Moore web site:
- SiCKO (People from all areas of the political spectrum agree that this is a MUST SEE movie!)
- Statement from Michael Moore on the Death of Nataline Sarkisyan
“Today I call upon the Los Angeles district attorney to investigate and consider bringing criminal homicide charges against CIGNA Health Care for their role in the death of Nataline Sarkisyan. If their decision was one of incompetence, then manslaughter charges should be filed. If it was a premeditated decision — where CIGNA knew in advance that Nataline would most likely die — then their corporate officers should be arrested and the full extent of the law brought to bear upon them.
“This is one more example why we not only need universal health care for all our citizens, but also to eliminate the concept of private, profit-driven ‘health care.’ Nearly every candidate running for president has a plan that leaves companies like CIGNA in charge. This must not happen and I call upon the democratic frontrunners to show some spine and say so.”
12/21/2007 12:45:59 PMEveryone at UCLA Medical Center — the administration, physicians and staff — are profoundly saddened by the death of Nataline Sarkisyan, as we are by the death of any child in our care. Our hearts go out to the Sarkisyan family and to everyone touched by her life.
- UCLA Medical Center doctors unavailable for comment (excerpt from Bereaved family to sue insurer after dispute over liver transplant-Boston Globe)
“In a Dec. 11 letter to Cigna, four doctors had appealed to the insurer to reconsider. They said patients in similar situations who undergo transplants have a six-month survival rate of about 65 percent.
The letter sent by the UCLA doctors questioned the company’s explanation that it does not cover experimental or unproven treatments, saying Nataline’s case was neither.
One of Nataline’s doctors, Robert Venick, declined to comment on her case. UCLA Medical Center staff refused to make her other doctors available for comment.”
In a memo sent to Cigna employees today, Cigna President David Cordani and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeffrey Kang said the company consulted its own experts who doubted the effectiveness of the procedure.
“In this case, rather than going through our standard method of appeal, we went directly to not one, but two independent experts in the field who agreed that the procedure in question, given the patient’s particular circumstances, would not have been an effective or appropriate treatment,” the pair wrote in the memo.
I’m disgusted, saddened, frustrated, and heartbroken for the family and friends of 17-year-old, Northridge, CA resident, Nataline Sarkisyan. After what had to be the very definition of the ultimate emotional roller coaster day, tonight (12/20/07) family and friends of Nataline are grieving her passing. Earlier the same day, family, friends, and members of the California Nurses Association protested in front of CIGNA‘s Glendale offices. About ten minutes into the protest, while Nataline’s mother was speaking, she was notified that CIGNA was making an “exception” and reversing their refusal to allow Nataline the liver transplant doctors said she desperately needed; with a liver transplant (a donor had been found when Nataline was in better shape) her chances of survival were 65%, without it she had NO chance of survival. Sadly Nataline’s condition worsened that same evening and she died.
I am so sick of hearing about innocent people who have been faced with the misfortune of ill health and disease, DYING because bean-counters and pencil-pushers make life and death decisions that should ONLY be made by doctors! When, oh when, are people going to become fed up with hearing painful stories such as this one, and FINALLY take action to FORCE our government, our politicians, and the health care community to change things?! It can be done, folks, and if you don’t believe me I IMPLORE YOU to watch Michael Moore’s SiCKO, especially the bonus features which show how Oslo, Norway has done it. France has health care for it’s citizens, England has done it, why in the ever loving HELL isn’t the country which is supposedly the leader of the free world, able to do it for THEIR OWN CITIZENS?! Oh wait, we know the answer to that and yes you can hear the same sounds I hear right now: ka-ching, ka-ching. It’s all about the almighty dollar, people, all about the money.
Sorry if this post might not be very focused, but when I heard the news Thursday night that Nataline had passed I just had to come here to let the emotions I’m feeling somehow pour themselves out via my keyboard. To have witnessed on television Nataline’s family being told that CIGNA was going to allow the transplant, right in the middle of the protest, then to be truly shocked to have the news come on hours later to report that Nataline had passed…well, it’s just something that’s made me pretty emotional. I have to note that as I flipped channels to catch the story on the various Los Angeles stations, I can honestly say that this is one of the few times where you could tell that each and every reporter was obviously personally affected by the heartbreaking news they were sharing with the viewers.
Please, please, PLEASE do whatever you can to help change our unfair and broken health care system, my friends. No more people should be denied access to life-saving health care just so the HMOs can continue to make money hand over fist.
- Girl Dies While Awaiting Liver Transplant (good video covering day’s events)
- Cancer Survivor Dies After Transplant Is Approved (video)
- CIGNA, In Switch, To Fund Transplant
- H.R. 676 information on Physicians for a National Health Program site
- Text of H.R. 676
- I just found this video made by Nataline’s brother (who had recently donated bone marrow to her) which was posted on December 18th, 2007, two days prior to her death. What an obviously devoted brother she had!
- Cancer Girl’s Lawyer Blames CIGNA for Her Death-CBS2.com (comprehensive coverage/video)
- Lawsuit promised in transplant case -AP
- CIGNA profits increase 22% in 3Q-Philadelphia Business Journal
- Press release from the California Nurses Association regarding Nataline’s death and CIGNA:
For Immediate Release
December 21, 2007
RN’s Statement on Death of Nataline Sarkisyan: ‘CIGNA Should Have Listened to Her Doctors And Approved the Transplant a Week Ago’
The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee today blasted insurance giant CIGNA for failing to approve a liver transplant one week earlier for 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, who tragically died last night just hours after CIGNA relented and agreed to the procedure following a massive national outcry.
On Dec. 11, four leading physicians, including the surgical director of the Pediatric Liver Transplant Program at UCLA, wrote to CIGNA urging the company to reverse its denial. The physicians said that Nataline “currently meets criteria to be listed as Status 1A” for a transplant. They also challenged CIGNA’s denial which the company said occurred because their benefit plan “does not cover experimental, investigational and unproven services,” to which the doctors replied, “Nataline’s case is in fact none of the above.”
“So what happened between December 11, when CIGNA denied the transplant, and December 20 when they approved? A huge outpouring of protest and CIGNA’s public humiliation. Why didn’t they just listen to the medical professionals at the bedside in the first place?” asked Geri Jenkins, RN, a member of the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents who works in a transplant unit at the University of California San Diego Medical Center.
On Thursday, CIGNA was bombarded with phone calls to its offices across the country while a rally sponsored by CNA/NNOC, with the substantial help of the local Armenian community, drew 150 people to the Glendale offices of CIGNA – all of which produced the turnaround by CIGNA to finally reverse its prior denial of care.
CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro called the final outcome “a horrific tragedy that demonstrates what is so fundamentally wrong with our health care system today. Insurance companies have a stranglehold on our health. Their first priority is to make profits for their shareholders – and the way they do that is by denying care.”
“It is simply not possible to organize major protests every time a multi-billion corporation like CIGNA denies care that has been recommended by a physician,” DeMoro said. “Having insurance is not the same as receiving needed care. We need a fundamental change in our healthcare system that takes control away from the insurance giants and places it where it belongs – in the hands of the medical professionals, the patients, and their families.”
I think Michael’s most recent email is one of my favorite emails from him (click here for other Michael-related posts) since it points out the ability the man has to show the “bigger picture” and how one thing does lead to another. Prime example is how he shows the effects downsizing can have on an industry such as the news media, in this case CNN. I love that he stays true to his determination of showcasing the inequities in not only his most recent topic, the health care industry, but also in the work force. His discussion of the semantics of the word “free” is dead-on and points out how opponents to “anything Michael Moore”, choose to attack and dissect the tiniest of points while completely missing the bigger picture/message.
Look for Michael to return to The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer tomorrow, Wednesday, July 18th, for what will hopefully be an actual intelligent, cat fight-free discussion of the important issue of health care reform. Btw, Michael said he’s not expecting roses or make-up sex from Wolf, but I’ll definitely be looking for a telltale twinkle in their eyes. 😉
7/17/07 email from Michael Moore:
July 17th, 2007
The mighty CNN, in a lengthy and sad online defense of their woe-begotten ‘Sicko’ story of last Monday, has admitted that they did indeed fudge at least two of the facts in their coverage of my film and have apologized for it:
1. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN: “To be clear, I got a number wrong in my original report, substituting the number 25, instead of 251.” — My Conversation with Michael Moore, July 11th, 2007; and
2. CNN: “Moore is correct. Paul Keckley left Vanderbilt in late 2006.” — CNN’s Response to Michael Moore, July 15th, 2007.
Furthermore, CNN confirmed that all of our statistics in “Sicko” are the correct numbers from the sources we cited. Although CNN still prefers to use older World Health Organization statistics, we will stick to using this year’s Bush administration stats and more recent U.N. data. (In “Sicko,” we consistently use only U.N. Human Development Statistics unless it’s for studies they don’t do or have recent numbers for.) CNN did apologize for these two factual errors, but no apology seems to be coming for the rest of their errors. These days, to get the mainstream media to admit they were wrong is rare; to get them to admit it twice, as they have with “Sicko,” I guess should be considered a whopping victory. Will they eventually apologize for the rest, or for their reporting on the war? Will the Cubs win the World Series this year?
So the truce has been signed, the peace pipe has been smoked. And the public is left with a much more cautious and wary eye when it comes to CNN. To be fair, this is what happens when you have to grind out “news” 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a staff you have shrunk through layoffs over the years (like all the broadcast networks have done). You end up rushed and having interns do your research. You have robots replace live camera operators. And, if you’re CNN, you are constantly dodging the accusation that you are “too liberal.” So when you do a piece on someone like me, you have to make sure you add superfluous and standard ad hominems attacking me simply to prove that you are NOT too liberal. I get it.
Until the last month or so, I have not appeared on a single national TV show for nearly 2 and 1/2 years. After the attacks I had to endure three years ago, from a media intent on questioning my patriotism because I dared to speak out against the war when none in the media would, I decided I had had enough and would simply concentrate on making my next film. I had no desire to participate in networks that were complicit in the war because of their refusal the challenge the commander in chief.
I have to admit, though, I do feel kinda bad taking it all out on Wolf Blitzer. It’s not like he’s the official representative of the mainstream media. I mean, he’s from Buffalo, for crying out loud! He said to me at the end of the show last week to please come back on “anytime you want.” I will take him up on that offer and appear again with him tomorrow (Wednesday). I’m not expecting a dozen roses or make-up sex — I only want a promise that there will be no more distorted distractions so we can have a decent discussion about the REAL issues like why 18,000 Americans die every year because they don’t have a health insurance card. More than 300 of them died this week. As Ehrlichman said to Nixon in “Sicko”: “The less care they give ’em, the more money they (the insurance companies) make.”
THAT’S the only thing we should be talking about. How profit and greed are killing our fellow Americans. How profit and private insurance have to be removed from our health care system. CNN should join me in asking why our 9/11 rescue workers aren’t receiving medical care. Somebody should send a crew to Canada to find out why they live longer than we do, and why no Canadian has ever gone bankrupt because of medical bills. And all of the media should start saying how much it costs to go to a doctor in these other top industrialized countries: Nothing. Zip. It’s FREE. Don’t patronize Americans by saying, “Well, it’s not free — they pay for it with taxes!” Yes, we know that. Just like we know that we drive down a city street for FREE — even though we paid for that street with our taxes. The street is FREE, the book at the library is FREE, if your house catches on fire, the fire department will come and put it out for FREE, and if someone snatches your purse, the police officer will chase down the culprit and bring your purse back to you — AND HE WON’T CHARGE YOU A DIME FROM THAT PURSE!
These are all free services, collectively socialized and paid for with our tax dollars. To argue that health care — a life and death issue for many — should not be considered in the same league is ludicrous and archaic. And trust me, once you add up what you pay for out-of-pocket in premiums, deductibles, co-pays, overpriced medicines, and treatments that aren’t covered (not to mention all the other things we pay for like college education, day care and other services that many countries provide for at little or no cost), we, as Americans, are paying far more than the Canadians or Brits or French are paying in taxes. We just don’t call these things taxes, but that’s exactly what they are.
See you all when I’m back on CNN tomorrow — where the discussion will be not be about whose statistics are right, but rather about the guy without insurance who died while I was writing this letter.
P.S. Oh… I forgot to tell you about Paris Hilton. Apparently cooped up for too long at home since getting out of jail, she decided to head out for a night on the town. But where does she go? Clubbing? Cruising down the Strip? No! She and her sister decide to go see “Sicko.” Now THAT’S news! So, no more bad words about Paris Hilton!
(***Added 7/11/07: Click here for videos of Michael on Larry King Live and The Situation Room on 7/10/07. Added 7/10/07: Scroll down past the video below to read an email notice sent out this morning about Michael being on CNN and other shows today/Tuesday!***)
Shout-out to Health Care For All for sending out a bulletin which alerted me to this GREAT video of Michael Moore unloading (as many of us would LOVE to!) about many things (not just the health care system in the U.S.) while on CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Watch the fireworks between Michael and Wolf below, then click on this link to read more on Michael’s web site, especially this link which sets the record straight on some of the misinformation in the Gupta story shown prior to Michael’s interview.
As a side note and in regard to Lou Dobbs’ comment regarding Michael Moore in the last 5 seconds of the video, you can kiss my “left wing promoting” lily white fanny, Lou! Nice journalistic objectivity…not!
Added 7/10/07: Just got following email this morning from Michael’s webmaster. I also added the Michael Moore/Jon Stewart clip (mentioned in the email) to my VodPod on this blog.
Tuesday, July 10th, 2007
Today, Michael Moore will be on CNN again for Part Two with Wolf Blitzer, (Did you see Part One? And our response?), a new appearance on Larry King Live with Dr. Sanjay Gupta (appearing, we assume, to apologize for his factual errors), and a rerun of Mike’s appearance on Jon Stewart from 13 days ago.
Those of us who maintain Michael’s website have started a truth squad. Watch for our daily reports on how the media lies, distorts and carries the water for Big Pharma and Big Insurance.
We’ll leave you with this analysis of how the mainstream media deals with Michael Moore.
One movie I am surprised I’m finding myself saying to skip (or at least wait for it to come out on DVD), is Evening. With such a stellar cast (Vanessa Redgrave, Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Natasha Richardson) one would expect much more–but don’t! What an ABSOLUTE disappointment this movie was. There was definitely fantastic potential on so many fronts, but the movie sorely missed the mark with such things as overacting, forced drama, incredibly bad dialogue on far too many occasions, characters I was never made to care for, and camera shots that had no rhyme or reason. I think if I tried really, really, really hard, I “might” be able to string together 10 decent minutes of the nearly 120 minute film.
I won’t spend time explaining the crux of the movie to you (it’s just not humane treatment to be that bored twice in less than 24 hours!), so if you want the studio’s low-down on the flick click here. I will say that the scene between the Meryl Streep (older Lila) and Vanessa Redgrave (older Ann) characters was one of the better, as was the acting on the part of Hugh Dancy (Buddy) when he finally unburdens his heart with the younger Ann, played by a way-too-thin Claire Danes. Mind you, there was some incredibly ridiculous, superfluous dialogue during that encounter, but the acting by Dancy during that scene (and unfortunately that scene only) was one of few times I felt any emotion during the film. And trust me, certain times of the month I can cry at the drop of a hat (Yes, more info than you ever wanted to know, but hey. ;)), however this movie couldn’t even come close to tapping into that enormous reserve of female hormone-induced emotions…tsk-tsk…not even the hint of a watery eye.
One utterly ridiculous scene during the movie actually sums up the entire experience perfectly for me. The scene had the incomparable Vanessa Redgrave traipsing through her house in her delusional state, chasing down a butterfly (sorry, but I was actually embarrassed for Ms Redgrave!), and all I could think of was the Lunesta commercial where the butterfly lands on your face, thereby somehow, miraculously aiding you with your sleeping issues. Well folks, I’m here to tell you that you can skip the drugs and just head out to see Evening–you’ll be lulled into a nice, restful sleep within minutes.
SiCKO finally opens in my neighborhood today, so I plan on hitting a showing. (And yes, escaping triple-digit temperatures during this miserable heat wave by spending some time in an air-conditioned theater DOES help sway my decision! ;)) According to Michael’s most recent email, it’s CRUCIAL to give SiCKO your support in the theaters this week, so with the additional 200 cities added I’m sure there is a screen with SiCKO on it near you–please do YOUR best to attend! Click here to find a location near you.
Here’s a link to previous Michael Moore/SiCKO entries, and below are the most recent emails from Mr. Moore:
- Today is the Day for “Sicko” June 29, 2007
This is it! Two years in the making! The day that our new film, “Sicko,” arrives in theaters all across North America! Click here to see where the nearest one is to you.
After you go, let me know what you think. Oh, and send us a photo or a video from your cell phone to show us what it looked like at your theater. We’d love to post a photo from each of the 440 movie theaters showing “Sicko.”
To read more about the movie, you can go to www.michaelmoore.com.
Here’s what this morning’s review in the L.A. Times said: “It’s likely his most important, most impressive, and most provocative film.” Okay, what do they know? I prefer to trust the assessment of E! Television Online: ” ‘Sicko’ – the best movie ever? Maybe.” Maybe? MAYBE?! When will they ever give me a break?
It’s been a weirdly funny week. First Larry King bumped me for Paris Hilton. Then today, when CNBC invited me to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for an interview, the stock exchange said I was barred from the building. On top of that, Tony Blair is gone, Cheney says he’s no longer answerable to anyone’s elected government, and I simply don’t want an iPhone. Just another week in America.
Hope you enjoy the movie!
- An Awesome First Night for “Sicko” Saturday, June 30th, 2007
Thank you so much to the hundreds of thousands of you who went to see my movie last night and this afternoon. The studio tells me that we are on track to have the second largest opening weekend for a documentary in the history of the movies! (“Fahrenheit 9/11” was first.) Many theaters have been selling out. The Bush administration’s investigation of this movie is certainly not keeping people away. Thanks for all the pictures you sent me of people packing in to see “Sicko!”
The movie is making impact big and small. I thought you would enjoy this story about a family that Aetna was forcing to pay a $65,000 hospital bill that the insurance company was supposed to cover! Check it out.
The critics, too, have been more than kind. Can I show you what a few of them said?
“It’s as uplifting and heart-rending a thing as you will see at the movies all year. And it speaks of Moore’s enduring faith — his angry, nettled, exasperated belief that ‘despite all our differences, we sink or swim together.’ ” — Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle
“The weight of evidence Moore marshals for taking the profit motive out of medicine is overwhelming. In a summer of dumb, shameless drivel, Moore delivers a movie of robust mind and heart. You’ll laugh till it hurts.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“‘Sicko’ is a beyond brilliant, nonpartisan expose’ on American politics that should be mandatory for every student in America. Some rich person — like maybe Angelina Jolie — should sponsor a program where DVDs are sent to families or free screenings are held at local churches.” — Caroline Kepnes, E!
For more of this, click here.
There’s a moment in “Sicko” when the former British MP, Tony Benn, says, “If we have the money to kill people (with war), we’ve got the money to help people.” That line always gets the loudest applause in the theater. It is estimated that, before Bush’s War is over, we will have spent two trillion dollars on it. Let me say this: I NEVER want to hear again from ANY politician that we “don’t have the money” to fix our schools, to take care of the poor, to provide health care for every American. Clearly, the money IS there when we want to illegally invade another country and then prolong a disastrous occupation. From now on, we have to demand that our tax dollars be there for the things we need, not the things that make us one of the most detested countries on earth.
If you haven’t seen “Sicko,” go see it tonight. I want this film to have as much impact as it can. How well it does in terms of attendance this first weekend will determine how many other towns get to see it. It’s all about the “first weekend box office” with the studios these days. If it does well in the 400 theaters it’s in, they will put it in more theaters next weekend. And trust me, the White House and their friends in the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries know this, too. It’s no surprise to me that an original master of “Sicko” was stolen and widely distributed on the internet before the film’s release. I’m one of the few people in the movie business who doesn’t believe in prosecuting teenagers who want to share music or films (although I make my movies to be seen on a big screen and that’s how I hope people see them!). I called up Mr. Bush’s FBI last week. I wanted to know if they had asked themselves the first question any cop would ask about this particularly unique theft:
“Who has a vested interest in destroying the first weekend of Michael Moore’s new film by stealing his movie’s master copy and placing it on the internet?”
Needless to say, they showed little interest in investigating who’s behind this. That’s ok. I realize what’s at stake for them and I accept that this is a battle with serious consequences. The drug and insurance companies have dumped over a half billion dollars in the pockets of Congress and the White House in the last 10 years. This movie may end up being their worst nightmare.
But here’s the good news: There’s more of us than there are of them. So, it’s up to the rest of you to help me help this movie have a great opening weekend. If over a half million people come out to see it by tomorrow night, the studio will take that to mean it should be in more cities and more theaters. Let’s make that happen. And I promise you, if you go, you’ll see a movie unlike any other you’ve seen this year. Last night, the industry polled the people coming out of “Sicko.” 93% said they would “strongly recommend ‘Sicko'” to their friends and family. The pollster said he’d never seen a number that high (the norm for most movies is about 45%). It was a heartening piece of news.
Thanks again and see ya tonight at the movies!
- “Sicko’s” Successful Weekend Puts My Movie in 200 More Cities Beginning Today! Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007
The results are in from the weekend — and they are amazing! “Sicko” more than doubled what industry insiders had predicted it would do for the weekend and, as I predicted, it did indeed have the second largest opening weekend in film history for a documentary (after F911). It also had the second highest per screen average for the weekend (after the Pixar animated film, “Ratatouille”). All this in spite of the fact, as Variety wrote, it’s not been a very good year for documentaries at the box office. According to Variety, there have been 29 docs released in theaters in 2007, and they have grossed less than two million combined. What does it say about the state of affairs for non-fiction films if, in just three days, one film more than doubles what all 29 of them did together? I’ve decided I want to do something about this. I see so many great documentaries and it’s a shame that most of you don’t get to see them. Later this year, I will announce a new project that will help other filmmakers get the distribution they deserve.
Of course, if you live in Lincoln, NE; Bangor, ME; Reno, NV; New Haven, CT; Columbia, SC; or Oklahoma City, you didn’t get to see “Sicko” this weekend either. But thanks to the massive turnout in the 440 theaters who had it, the studio has decided to expand “Sicko,” TODAY (Tuesday, July 3) to 200 more theaters! And this Friday, they will add another 100 cities. Those of you who went to see it in the last few days have made it possible for others around the country to see my movie. Thank you.
So this will become the make-it-or-break-it week for “Sicko.” Will you help me? Here’s something you can do right now. Go to your address book icon on your computer and send a brief note to all your friends and associates about why they should see “Sicko.” Then organize a group of your friends to go see “Sicko” some night this week. I promise you that you won’t be disappointed. After all, what’s the worst that could happen — a pardon or a commutation from the President of the United States?
On Sunday, Canada celebrated the 45th anniversary of its free, universal health care system — with its built-in bonus of living longer than we do. Why do they have this and not us? We’ve already taken their Stanley Cup from them for good. Let’s demand we get to live as long as they do, too! What good is a dumb ol’ Cup if we aren’t around long enough to use it?
The letters you are sending me are powerful and profound. Thank you for sharing with me thousands of more stories about the criminal way our system operates. One woman wrote to say her dentist just gave her this choice: have all her teeth pulled, or pay him $30,000 to fix and rebuild them. She told me she’s made the choice to give up her teeth — a choice she was forced to make only because she lives from paycheck to paycheck in middle class America. This is a crime.
Go to your address book on your computer now and send out that e-mail to everyone you know and tell them to find their way to the theater this week. This film stands the chance of igniting a movement. Let’s not let this moment pass.
The following Action Alert was obtained from the FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) website (after first hearing about it from a Health Care For All/OneCare Now.org bulletin) via their use of a Creative Commons license. I’m including below a couple of additional video links relating to the news report mentioned, but if you’d like to read the transcript or see the video of the CBS News report in question first, click here. And if you are so inclined after viewing and reading, please take part in FAIR‘s Action Alert.
CBS’s ‘Sicko’ Spin
Americans Don’t Want Single-Payer Health—Except They Do
On the June 22 broadcast of CBS Evening News, reporter Jeff Greenfield’s critique of Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko relied on a single premise: that the U.S. public and its political leaders do not embrace Moore’s preferred solution (a single-payer system, where medical care is provided by private doctors and hospitals but paid for by the government). But that argument is at odds with the available evidence.
While noting that Moore’s film “features affecting stories of personal suffering at the hands of indifferent corporations,” Greenfield argued that even though presidential candidates “have all talked a lot about changing the health care system…no one, Democrat or Republican, has come close to advocating the kind of government-run national health system Michael Moore proposes.” This is incorrect; Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D.-Ohio), a presidential contender, supports the very same approach, as do dozens of congressmembers who have co-sponsored H.R. 676, a bill that would provide single-payer coverage in the United States. Ironically, Kucinich appears on the screen next to Moore as Greenfield made this false claim.
Greenfield elaborated on this storyline, claiming that the U.S. does not have universal health coverage because “Americans are just different.” He went on to quote Paul Ginsburg of the Center for Studying Health System Change: “We’re much less willing to have government make decisions for people than is the case in Canada and Europe. It’s a cultural difference.”
That assessment is contradicted by recent polling. In a recent CNN poll (5/4-5/6/07), 64 percent of respondents supported the idea that “government should provide a national health insurance program for all Americans, even if this would require higher taxes.” And a recent CBS/New York Times poll (2/23-27/07) found 64 percent support for the idea that the federal government should “guarantee health insurance for all,” and 60 percent supported paying higher taxes to provide such coverage. Additionally, 50 percent believed “fundamental changes” to the healthcare system were necessary, and another 40 percent thought the country needed to “completely rebuild” the system.
If Greenfield meant to say that political elites are slow to act on public opinion, he’s surely correct (and this would apply to many other political issues as well). The same is true of elite media outlets, which have dismissed and maligned single-payer healthcare for years. Imagine what the polls would like if there were a serious discussion of the issue, instead of dismissals from the likes of Jeff Greenfield.
ACTION: Tell CBS Evening News to correct Jeff Greenfield’s assertions about public opinion and single-payer health coverage. You could also point out that Dennis Kucinich—a proponent of such a system—is in fact a presidential candidate.
CBS Evening News
Also send your comments to CBS Public Eye:
(***Added 6/25/07: Interesting article about how Michael is planning on showing SiCKO trailers on the outside of buildings near HMOs and hospitals tonight, Monday, June 25th! Btw, ALL sneak screenings on Saturday night were SOLD OUT! Way to go!***)
Michael Moore’s new documentary on the pathetic health care system in the United States, SiCKO, is having sneak preview screenings tomorrow night (Saturday, June 23rd), in select cities across the country. I’ll include a hyperlinked list of theaters after the latest email sent from Michael. Also, here’s a Mother Jones article about SiCKO’s screening in Washington D.C. on 6/20, along with a video of Michael taking questions afterward. And don’t forget that SiCKO opens nationwide on June 29th!
‘SiCKO’ Sneaks Across America This Saturday!
Thursday, June 21st, 2007
Would you like to go to a sneak preview of my new film, “Sicko,” before it opens on June 29th? Well, if you live anywhere near the 32 cities listed below, this Saturday night, June 23rd, our movie studio is going to hold sneak screenings of “Sicko” in 43 theaters across the country. I’d love for you to be one of the first to see it so, if you’d like, you can click here and order tickets now. We’d love to see you there.
Also, if you live in the New York City area we are opening the film tomorrow (Friday, June 22) exclusively at one theater, the AMC Lincoln Square for a first week run. The interest in the film is very high and theaters have been asking us to open it as soon as possible. Alright, already! It opens tomorrow in NYC, the sneak previews are Saturday around the country, and we open nationwide next Friday, the 29th.
Last night we screened “Sicko” for the members of Congress and the Senate in Washington, D.C. Earlier in the day we testified during a briefing in Congress called by the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. I brought with me some of the people who appear in the film to tell their stories — and it was a powerful moment.
I will write again next week, before “Sicko” opens nationwide on the 29th. I’m so excited, after spending the last couple of years working on this film, that you all will finally be able to see it.
P.S. Catch the sneak preview of “Sicko” in these cities this Saturday night, June 23rd:
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Tampa – St. Petersburg, FL
Kansas City, KS
Minneapolis – St. Paul, MN
St. Louis, MO
Las Vegas, NV
Order tickets online here: http://www.michaelmoore.com/sicko/about/sneak/
From the SiCKO web site:
Sneak preview screenings of ‘SiCKO’ are happening this Saturday, June 23rd! Click theater names below the order tickets online or to contact your local theater for details.
(***ADDED 6/5/07: 2-part videos of Michael’s appearance on Oprah are included below for those who missed the show.***)
From a Michael Moore email:
Michael Moore on Oprah Tuesday
Michael Moore will appear on Oprah tomorrow, Tuesday, June 5, and will present, for the first time on television, scenes from his new film, “Sicko.” Oprah will interview Michael about the movie and the attention it’s receiving before its release (opening day everywhere is June 29). The theme of Oprah’s show is the one film you must see this summer — “Sicko” — and the one book you must read (Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”). Oprah loved Michael’s film and wants to make health care for all one of her main missions this year.
So set your recorders for Oprah tomorrow, Tuesday!
And here’s Michael’s 5/25/07 appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher–two of my faves! 🙂
***ADDED 6/5/07: 2-part videos of Michael on Oprah today.***
I cannot WAIT for the release of Michael Moore’s SiCKO on June 29th! I’ll include a trailer for SiCKO, along with the email he sent out after the movie premiered at Cannes. Click here for the scoop on the ridiculous U.S. government’s investigation of Michael related to SiCKO, and here is a post including Michael’s email prior to Cannes. See you at the theater on June 29th!
Here’s Michael’s response to the Bush administration and the investigation.
Is there a doctor in the house?-VillageVoice.com
“The other thing that makes Sicko Moore’s strongest film in years—if not ever—is its steadfast refusal to turn health care into a polarizing political issue, except to say that pretty much all American politicians, regardless of rank or affiliation, have left us to fend for ourselves.”
“Well, when a reviewer for Fox News (!) calls a Michael Moore film “brilliant and uplifting,” as was posted online after the world premiere of “Sicko” at the Cannes Film Festival, you know Moore is onto something.”
“America’s Health Insurance Plans President Karen Ignagni said that the film might encourage the government to provide more funding for health care for the uninsured.”
A Letter from Michael Moore: ‘Sicko’ is Socko in Cannes!
May 23rd, 2007
Well, as you may have read by now, our premiere of “Sicko” at the Cannes Film Festival has been an overwhelming success. The 2,000 people inside the Lumiere Theater were alternately in tears and laughing during the two-hour film — and when it was over, they gave it a standing ovation that seemed to go on for nearly 15 minutes! Many came up to me and said (and critics seem to agree) that this is my best film yet. I don’t know about that, and it seems weird to compare any of these movies in the first place. But I do feel safe in saying that I am very, very happy with this film and I can’t wait to show it to you when it opens on June 29th.
Cannes is a crazy place. There are film lovers here from nearly every country in the world. And then there are the people in “show business.” These dark forces have virtually ruined this art form (invented by the French and nurtured to brilliance by the country I call home). There are so many bad, awful films now and less and less people are going to the movies. Many who run Hollywood believe that the American people are too stupid to enjoy a film that respects their intelligence.
At the press screening for “Sicko,” the Wall Street Journal reported that hardened reporters and critics wept. Even those who have been harsh to me in the past, or who have not agreed with my politics, were moved. Aside from my stated desire that “Sicko” ignite a fire for free, universal health care (and a larger wish that we, as Americans, do a better job of treating each other with a true sense of solidarity and respect), I continue to hope that I can make a contribution to the art of cinema and give people a good reason to get out of the house for a few hours.
At my festival press conference, the only negative word came from the Canadians. Two critics didn’t like all the nice things I said about their health care system. Yes, Canadian health care has its flaws, but when I asked the two critics if they would exchange their health care cards for mine, they said “No!” Of course they wouldn’t. Canadians live longer than we do and their infant mortality is not as high as ours. Their system is underfunded because their leaders have been trying to push for more American-style health care.
The rest of the week has been good and I am now on my way back to the U.S. The New York Post reported Sunday that the Bush administration, in addition to going after me for filming scenes in or near Cuba, may now go after the 9/11 rescue workers I took with me to get the medical care they were denied by our own government. I couldn’t make up irony like this if I wanted to, and I will do whatever is necessary to defend the human right of these true American heroes to receive the medical attention they deserve.
We’ve also received word that the HMO and pharmaceutical industries are gearing up to fight “Sicko.” We received so many great whistleblower letters while we were making the movie from employees of these companies. We’d like to hear from you again! Send us the internal memos and any other plans you run across at the company copying machine or internet server. It will help to stay ahead of whatever they are up to, and it will also give us a chance for a bit of fun at the industry’s expense.
I will soon have a special section of my website devoted to “Sicko.” Until then, we’ll move forward toward our June 29th release date. Hope to see you all there that weekend!
This has to be one of my favorite lines from Michael Moore‘s 5/17/07 email I’m copying below, “There are only two people in need of an investigation and a trial, and the desire for this across America is so widespread you don’t even need to see the one’s smirk or hear the other’s sneer to know who I am talking about.” Gee, ya think? 😉 Here’s my previous post on the topic. Best of luck in Cannes, Michael!
“Sicko” Is Completed and We’re Off to Cannes!
May 17, 2007
It’s a wrap! My new film, “Sicko,” is all done and will have its world premiere this Saturday night at the Cannes Film Festival. As with “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” we are honored to have been chosen by this prestigious festival to screen our work there.
My intention was to keep “Sicko” under wraps and show it to virtually no one before its premiere in Cannes. That is what I have done and, as you may have noticed if you are a recipient of my infrequent Internet letters, I have been very silent about what I’ve been up to. In part, that’s because I was working very hard to complete the film. But my silence was also because I knew that the health care industry — an industry which makes up more than 15 percent of our GDP — was not going to like much of what they were going to see in this movie and I thought it best not to upset them any sooner than need be.
Well, going quietly to Cannes, I guess, was not to be. For some strange reason, on May 2nd the Bush administration initiated an action against me over how I obtained some of the content they believe is in my film. As none of them have actually seen the film (or so I hope!), they decided, unlike with “Fahrenheit 9/11,” not to wait until the film was out of the gate and too far down the road to begin their attack.
Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, launched an investigation of a trip I took to Cuba to film scenes for the movie. These scenes involve a group of 9/11 rescue workers who are suffering from illnesses obtained from working down at Ground Zero. They have received little or no help with their health care from the government. I do not want to give away what actually happens in the movie because I don’t want to spoil it for you (although I’m sure you’ll hear much about it after it unspools Saturday). Plus, our lawyers have advised me to say little at this point, as the film goes somewhere far scarier than “Cuba.” Rest assured of one thing: no laws were broken. All I’ve done is violate the modern-day rule of journalism that says, “ask no questions of those in power or your luncheon privileges will be revoked.”
This preemptive action taken by the Bush administration on the eve of the “Sicko” premiere in Cannes led our attorneys to fear for the safety of our film, noting that Secretary Paulson may try to claim that the content of the movie was obtained through a violation of the trade embargo that our country has against Cuba and the travel laws that prohibit average citizens of our free country from traveling to Cuba. (The law does not prohibit anyone from exercising their first amendment right of a free press and documentaries are protected works of journalism.)
I was floored when our lawyers told me this. “Are you saying they might actually confiscate our movie?” “Yes,” was the answer. “These days, anything is possible. Even if there is just a 20 percent chance the government would seize our movie before Cannes, does anyone want to take that risk?”
Certainly not. So there we were last week, spiriting a duplicate master negative out of the country just so no one from the government would take it from us. (Seriously, I can’t believe I just typed those words! Did I mention that I’m an American, and this is America and NO ONE should ever have to say they had to do such a thing?)
I mean, folks, I have just about had it. Investigating ME because I’m trying to help some 9/11 rescue workers our government has abandoned? Once again, up is down and black is white. There are only two people in need of an investigation and a trial, and the desire for this across America is so widespread you don’t even need to see the one’s smirk or hear the other’s sneer to know who I am talking about.
But no, I’m the one who now has to hire lawyers and sneak my documentary out of the country just so people can see a friggin’ movie. I mean, it’s just a movie! What on earth could I have placed on celluloid that would require such a nonsensical action against me?
Ok. Scratch that.
Well, I’m on my way to Cannes right now, a copy of the movie in my bag. Don’t feel too bad for me, I’ll be in the south of France for a week! But then it’s back to the U.S. for a number of premieres and benefits and then, finally, a chance for all of you to see this film that I have made. Circle June 29th on your calendar because that’s when it opens in theaters everywhere across the country and Canada (for the rest of the world, it opens in the fall).
I can’t wait for you to see it.
P.S. I will write more about what happens from Cannes. Stay tuned on my website, MichaelMoore.com.
Anyone else feel like the past several AGONIZING years of the Bush administration has been one continuous tweaking of a con artist shell game? Under shell #1 is ANY legitimate concern by Americans (and the rest of the world, too!) regarding anything from the mishandling of Iraq, to the shenanigans Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and crew have been doing in the Justice Department. As soon as there is building interest in shell #1, Bush and crew attempt to throw the unsuspecting victims of this con game off with some fancy sleight of hand, and this time it’s Michael Moore’s trip to Cuba with 10 first responders to the WTC on 9/11, who are now suffering debilitating medical ailments. (Keep in mind the trip was taken in March, yet the letter from the government to Mr. Moore telling him of the investigation was dated May 2, 2007, a mere few weeks prior to his new movie, SiCKO being released…hmmm.) I’m sure shell #3 will probably be some “heightened terror alert” since we haven’t seen that lovely rainbow colored item pulled out of the mothballs for awhile. And it’s always been a favorite of this administration, since it’s so easy to pull the strings of the marionette public and create an artificial sense of fear and panic at the drop of a hat.
Let it be known at the outset that I am a fan of Michael Moore, and applaud what he has done to bring issues to light and have everyone engage in discussions pertinent to the welfare of ALL Americans (health care, our government and its falsehoods, outsourcing, gun control, and many more). That being said, I may not always agree with every move he makes (heck, I don’t even agree with every move I make! ;)), but this is a man who I strongly believe has the best interests of America at heart. Personally I’m pretty fed up with either being chastised or made to feel “unpatriotic” just because I strongly disagree with just about everything the current administration has done, so I can only imagine how Michael Moore must feel having such an enormous spotlight on him 24/7. And yes, I realize he brings it upon himself, but that just makes me appreciate his dedication even more. To put yourself up to the possibility of such scrutiny, ridicule, and hate, shows devotion and dedication to your beliefs. And yes, I even feel that way about those with whom I wholeheartedly disagree. Have strength in your convictions, but also show respect for differing viewpoints. Fine line, I know, but one we all really do need to try and walk–sometimes unsuccessfully.
Another reason I’m a fan of Michael’s is because of what he did for my alma mater, California State University, San Marcos. In October of 2003, Mr. Moore was scheduled to be a speaker at one of our CSUSM Arts & Lectures Series events. Due to the horrific wildfires in our area at the time, the engagement was postponed. By the time it was rescheduled it was close to the 2004 election and Karen Haynes, President of CSUSM, refused to allow Michael to speak saying that there wouldn’t be adequate time to schedule another speaker with an opposing political viewpoint. Thankfully students and community members would NOT let President Haynes control everything, and raised enough funds to have Mr. Moore speak at an off-campus area (Del Mar Fairgrounds) to approximately 10,000 of us (yes, I was there! ;)). Here is one story about the entire flap and subsequent venue change.
While hearing Michael speak in front of so many people with such fervor and determination was exciting enough, it was actually a HUGE surprise he shared with us all that really made the evening spectacular. (And mind you, this is an evening that had Joan Baez as a surprise performer!) The fantastic news that Michael shared with the crowd was that he was creating a “Freedom of Speech” scholarship at CSUSM to give $5,000 to a student who stood up to the administration the most. Due to the number of applicants Mr. Moore found outstanding, he ended up increasing the scholarship amount to $15,000, which was divided between 6 students. Here is a news article about his appearance that night and the impending scholarship.
And yes, I own countless works from Mr. Moore: “Stupid White Men” and “Dude, Where’s My Country?” in my reading library, along with “Fahrenheit 9/11”, “Roger & Me”, “Bowling for Columbine”, and “The Big One” in my media library, and looking forward to catching Michael’s upcoming flick, “Sicko“, as soon as it hits theaters this June 29th. And yes, I realize not everyone shares my opinion of Mr. Moore, but it’s my blog and my opinion, AND I truly believe there are far more folks who agree with Mr. Moore than disagree with him. 🙂 It will be interesting to see how this Michael Moore/Cuba/Bush administration story plays out. Heck, even an online betting site is wagering odds on how far this situation will go!
I’ll leave you with Michael’s open letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson. Take care, folks.
Friday, May 11th, 2007
Open Letter from Michael Moore to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
Secretary Henry Paulson
Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20220
May 11, 2007
I am contacting you in light of the document sent to me dated May 2, 2007, which was received May 7, 2007 indicating that an investigation has been opened up with regards to a trip I took to Cuba with a group of Americans that included some 9/11 heroes in March 2007 related to the filming of my next documentary, on the American Healthcare system. SiCKO, which will be seen in theaters this summer, will expose the health care industry’s greed and control over America’s political processes.
I believe that the decision to conduct this investigation represents the latest example of the Bush Administration abusing the federal government for raw, crass, political purposes. Over the last seven years of the Bush Presidency, we have seen the abuse of government to promote a political agenda designed to benefit the conservative base of the Republican Party, special interests and major financial contributors. From holding secret meetings for the energy industry to re-writing science findings to cooking the books on intelligence to the firing of U.S. Attorneys, this Administration has shown time and time again that it will abuse its power and authority.
There are a number of specific facts that have led me to conclude that politics could very well be driving this Bush Administration investigation of me and my film.
First, the Bush Administration has been aware of this matter for months (since October 2006) and never took any action until less than two weeks before SiCKO is set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and a little more than a month before it is scheduled to open in the United States.
Second, the health care and insurance industry, which is exposed in the movie and has expressed concerns about the impact of the movie on their industries, is a major corporate underwriter of President George W. Bush and the Republican Party, having contributed over $13 million to the Bush presidential campaign in 2004 and more than $180 million to Republican candidates over the last two campaign cycles. It is well documented that the industry is very concerned about the impact of SiCKO. They have threatened their employees if they talk to me. They have set up special internal crises lines should I show up at their headquarters. Employees have been warned about the consequences of participating in SiCKO. Despite this, some employees, at great risk to themselves, have gone on camera to tell the American people the truth about the health care industry. I can understand why that industry’s main recipient of its contributions — President Bush — would want to harass, intimidate and potentially prevent this film from having its widest possible audience.
And, third, this investigation is being opened in the wake of misleading attacks on the purpose of the Cuba trip from a possible leading Republican candidate for president, Fred Thompson, a major conservative newspaper, The New York Post, and various right wing blogs.
For five and a half years, the Bush administration has ignored and neglected the heroes of the 9/11 community. These heroic first responders have been left to fend for themselves, without coverage and without care. I understand why the Bush administration is coming after me — I have tried to help the very people they refuse to help, but until George W. Bush outlaws helping your fellow man, I have broken no laws and I have nothing to hide.
I demand that the Bush Administration immediately end this investigation and spend its time and resources trying to support some of the real heroes of 9/11.
George W. Bush’s veto has elicited some powerful statements from six US military leaders. You know, the ones that actually SERVED in the military. The ones that have a clue what is going on in Iraq. Service members who are the exact opposite of our “Commander-In-Chief”.
From the blog of our Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi:
May 2nd, 2007 by Karina
“With this veto, the president has doomed us to repeating a terrible history. President Bush’s current position is hauntingly reminiscent of March 1968 in Vietnam. At that time, both the Secretary of Defense and the President had recognized that the war could not be won militarily – just as our military commanders in Iraq have acknowledged. But not wanting to be tainted with losing a war, President Johnson authorized a surge of 25,000 troops. At that point, there had been 24,000 U.S. troops killed in action. Five years later, when the withdrawal of U.S. troops was complete, we had suffered 34,000 additional combat deaths.”
– Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, USA, Ret.
“By vetoing this bill and failing to initiate an immediate and phased withdrawal, the President has effectively gone AWOL, deserting his duty post, leaving American forces with an impossible mission, suffering wholly unnecessary casualties.”
– Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, USA, Ret.
“The rhetoric of Congress not supporting our troops is pure ‘hogwash’. The real non support of our troops is the Presidential Veto. Vetoing this Bill sends a message to our troops, that the President will fund them to fight but is not concerned about returning them to their families.”
– Maj. Gen. Mel Montano, USANG, Ret.
“The President vetoed our troops and the American people. His stubborn commitment to a failed strategy in Iraq is incomprehensible. He committed our great military to a failed strategy in violation of basic principles of war. His failure to mobilize the nation to defeat world wide Islamic extremism is tragic. We deserve more from our commander-in-chief and his administration.”
– Maj. Gen. John Batiste, USA, Ret.
“This administration and the previously Republican controlled legislature have been the most caustic agents against America’s Armed Forces in memory. Less than a year ago, the Republicans imposed great hardship on the Army and Marine Corps by their failure to pass a necessary funding language. This time, the President of the United States is holding our Soldiers hostage to his ego. More than ever apparent, only the Army and the Marine Corps are at war – alone, without their President’s support.”
– Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, USA, Ret.
“Almost 5 years ago, Congress trusted the President enough to give him the power to transform Iraq. Bush violated that trust and deceived us with a misuse of force. Today, the President violated the trust of the American people, our troops, and their families by vetoing this bill and not choosing to do what is right. He has let us down.”
– Brigadier General John Johns, USA, Ret.
Check these out:
- Eyes Wide Open
- Iraq Veterans Against the War
- Joan Baez Unwelcome at Concert for Troops-WashingtonPost.com
VERY powerful video put to John Fogerty’s “Deja Vu”: