Sunday, July 22, 2007

Force feeding is not healthcare, Michael...

We went to see Sicko last evening, Michael Moore's latest movie. Lots of laughs of the type the French call le rire jaune. That's when you laugh at a pathetic, outrageous situation instead of crying.

A man who has severed two fingers in an accident is forced to choose which one he will let surgeons reattach, because he can't afford to get them both operated on ... too bad he didn't have the good sense to wait for the hospital's two-for-one bargain week. A mother watches her baby die from complications of a spiking fever because the hospital where she rushes her does not accept her HMO plan. An elderly woman who looks as though she's been beaten is unceremoniously dumped onto a sidewalk by the hospital where she sought treatment. (The doctor or hospital honcho tells us with a straight face that skid row is the sa
fest place for her.) A teary-eyed Congressman declares his boundless love for his mother. That's why he's sponsoring the Medicare Prescription Law, the primary beneficiaries of which are the pharmaceutical and insurance companies. However, retirees are guaranteed hours of fun trying to figure out which convoluted prescription plan may actually save them a few dollars.... oh, the laughs never stop...

We're also treated to gushy encomia of the Canadian, British, French, and Cuban healthcare systems. Hey, if those countries do even half of what Moore and his interviewees claim, their systems rock compared to ours! Explaining the origins of the British system, Moore shows a photo of one of their bombed-out cities after WWII. The thought came to me that their government made sure that the citizens who had suffered so muc
h would be properly cared for once the country was rebuilt. We, on the other hand, made sure that Big Business would be properly cared for.

I do have one rather serious bone to pick with this otherwise excellent skewering of our for-profit, patient-unfriendly healthcare system: Michael should not have fallen for the administation's hype about the medical care the Guantánamo detainees are receiving. There are prisoners not being treated for life-threatening illnesses, while others, cozily strapped down to a table, have two nutritionally complete (not to mention culturally appropriate) liquid meals direct delivered to their stomachs daily via NG tube. "They are alive and healthy and we are going to keep them that way as long as they are here," according to one doctor.

Right.

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