Thursday, June 14, 2007
The movie, SiCKO contrasts the U.S. healthcare system with that of several other countries and includes a trip to Cuba for which Moore is being investigated. The investigation by the Office of Foreign Assets Control within the United States Department of the Treasury is looking into whether Moore has violated United States embargo against Cuba, which has been in effect since 1962 and codified in 1992.
Moore has, according to agency reports, stored a copy of the original film in Canada as a result of the Federal investigation by the Treasury department. His concern is that an attempt may be made to confiscate the section of the film shot in Cuba.
According to Associated Press, David Boies, attorney for Michael Moore, believes the targeting of Moore for his unauthorised trip to Cuba may be the result of the criticism of the current administration in such films as Fahrenheit 9/11.
Tuesday Moore was seen at two pre-release screenings of the movie in Sacramento, California. His audiences were a group of politicians and a number of nurses, each attending their own screening.
The movie opens with a cold statistic that approximately 45 million Americans are without healthcare insurance. It continues by giving examples of people with healthcare insurance who have been denied all or part of their treatment for technical reasons. As well as getting thousands of responses from people who had problems with their insurance he received information from people working inside Health maintenance organizations and ex-employees who claim the system is set up to provide the minimum care and the maximum profit to the company.
The segment of the film that triggered the Federal investigation is his trip to Cuba with a number of people who relate their experiences with healthcare. Among these are several volunteer workers who worked at ground zero following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. These people claim to have been refused aid from the fund set up for 9/11 workers and were thus unable to afford their required treatment. After an attempt to obtain treatment at Guantanamo Bay detention facility – which Moore described as the only place on U.S. soil where there is “socialised medicine” – they seek out a hospital in Havana. All are checked and treated free of charge. One woman discovers that an inhaler for her respiratory problems costs approximately five cents in Cuba compared to 120 dollars in the U.S.
Health insurance companies, speaking through their trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), are critical of the film, which calls for healthcare similar to that of Canada, France, or the UK. “We need a uniquely American solution in which the public and private sectors work together to make sure that everyone has high-quality, affordable healthcare,” said Karen Ignagni, president of AHIP, on Wednesday.
The film is scheduled for wide release in the U.S. and Canada on June 29, 2007.