Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Michael Moore's Swift Response Team in action

CNN's The Situation Room yesterday aired a report by medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta claiming to have found a few inaccurate statements in Michael Moore's movie Sicko. Immediately after airing the report Wolfe Blitzer referred to the movie having "fudged the facts" and asked for a live response from Michael Moore. Michael Moore vigorously denied that there were any "fudged" facts in Sicko and promised that there would be a complete refutation of all of CNN's charges up on his website in less than 24 hours.

True to his word a response was published on the website at 12:41 this morning. Here are some highlights from that refutation:

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN: "(Moore says) the United States slipped to number 37 in the world's health care systems. It's true. ... Moore brings a group of patients, including 9/11 workers, to Cuba and marvels at their free treatment and quality of care. But hold on - that WHO list puts Cuba's health care system even lower than the United States, coming in at #39."


* "But hold on?" 'SiCKO' clearly shows the WHO list, with the United States at number #37, and Cuba at #39. Right up on the screen in big five-foot letters. It's even in the trailer! CNN should have its reporter see his eye doctor. The movie isn't hiding from this fact. Just the opposite.
* The fact that the healthcare system in an impoverished nation crippled by our decades-old blockade (including medical supplies and drugs) ranks so closely to ours is more an indictment of the American system than the Cuban system.
* Although Cuba ranks lower overall than the United States, it still has a lower infant mortality rate and longer life span. (see below)
* And unlike the United States, Cuba offers healthcare to absolutely everyone. In an independent Gallup poll conducted in Cuba, "a near unanimous 96 percent of respondents say that health care in Cuba is accessible to everyone." ("Cubans Show Little Satisfaction with Opportunities and Individual Freedom Rare Independent Survey Finds Large Majorities Are Still Proud of Island's Health Care and Education," January 10, 2007.

CNN: "Moore asserts that the American health care system spends $7,000 per person on health. Cuba spends $25 dollars per person. Not true. But not too far off. The United States spends $6,096 per person, versus $229 per person in Cuba."


* According to our own government – the Department of Health and Human Services' National Health Expenditures Projections – the United States will spend $7,092 per capita on health in 2006 and $7,498 in 2007. (Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures, National Health Expenditures Projections 2006-2016. http://www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalHealthExpendData/downloads/proj2006.pdf)
* As for Cuba – Dr. Gupta and CNN need to watch 'SiCKO' first before commenting on it. 'SiCKO' says Cuba spends $251 per person on health care, not $25, as Gupta reports. And the BBC reports that Cuba's per capita health expenditure is… $251! (Keeping Cuba Healthy, BBC, Aug. 1 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/5232628.stm )
* As Gupta points out, the World Health Organization does calculate Cuba's per capita health expenditure at $229 per person – a lot closer to $251 than $25.

CNN: In fact, Americans live just a little bit longer than Cubans on average.


* Just the opposite. The 2006 United Nations Human Development Report's human development index states the life expectancy in the United States is 77.5 years. It is 77.6 years in Cuba. (Human Development Report 2006, United Nations Development Programme, 2006 at 283. http://hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/pdfs/report/HDR06-complete.pdf)

Link to the complete response:

The accuracy of CNN's nitpicking a few facts aside, think about those disputed facts. The impoverished country of Cuba spends 1/27 as much on health care as we do and gets results almost as good (CNN) or a little better (Sicko) than ours.


Anonymous said...

it must irk moore to think that a normally liberal biased media rag cnn would turn on him and eat their own. it is very funny. it is even funnier than when the normally kool aid spewing limbaugh turns on the conservatives and has them for lunch. it is good to have a good belly laugh early in the morning.

Dave Barrett said...

I doubt that Moore shares your misconception that CNN is normally liberal, nor would he be surprised that they attacked him. Their true colors can be seen in incidents such as this one where they defend big corporate interests. Defending corportate interests is neither liberal nor conservative, a concept which probably does not fit within your world view that sees only liberals and conservatives. What you see as an anomoly - a "liberal" CNN attacking a "liberal" Michael Moore -- which you see only as a cause for amusement, might be better used as a chance to rethink how you see the world.

Jim Mowen said...

Moore is a opportunist extraordanaire. His life's work does capitalism proud - he will lie and stretch the truth to make a profit (and advance his cause).

Of course the healthcare system in the US has issues. However, most medical advances happen in the United States, not Cuba, or anywhere else.

Most new drugs are discovered in the United States, not Cuba, or elsewhere.

Do we have issues - certainly. However, most are attributed to self-inflicted wounds...bad eating habits, obesity, smoking and drinking - far in excess of Cuba, or elsewhere.

Dave, take an apples-to-apples look at the system as a whole. THINK a little (and quit being such a blind follower of propaganda). There are explanations more than Moore will ever tell you.

Again, the system has issues, but there are simple 'first-step' solutions before ever considering government supplied healthcare.

Dave Barrett said...

What difference does it make whether a new drug or medical procedure was developed in this country or somewhere else to someone without medical insurance or to someone whose medical insurance has just denied them the treatment they need? 50 million Americans are without medical insurance! Most of the rest of us cannot quit our jobs to try something we might enjoy more out of fear of losing or health insurance.

In Canada and Europe where they have universal health coverage doctors make the decisions about who gets what care based on factors like the greatest good for the greatest number. In this country we have non-doctor bureaucrats at the health insurance companies deciding whether you get a particular medical procedure or treatment based solely on what is most profitable to the company.

How is it not an apples to apples comparison to compare our infant mortality rates and life expectancy rates to other countries?

How is it not an apples to apples comparison to compare how much we and other countries pay for health care?

How is it not an apples to apples comparison to say that people who live in Canada and western Europe have universal health care and therefore do not have to worry about losing their health insurance because they lose or quit their jobs while Americans have to constantly be factoring whether they can afford to lose their health insurance into every life decision?

Jim Mowen said...

Dave, we need to think about this...reasonably.

I am not defending the healthcare system - it has real issues. One would have to be a fool to not see this. However, to think that there is a better system elsewhere, well, I think is equally as foolish.

If not for the 'profit potential' (free market system) in the US healthcare system, most drugs would not have been discovered/ invented (THAT is what difference it means). Without the profit potential, most of the treatments would not exist and a lot of this discussion would be mute.

We have to understand that there is rationing everywhere, in every arena of life. Not everyone eats steak every night, not everyone drives a BMW, not everyone lives in a 3,000 square foot house on 1.5-acres and not everyone can afford every medical procedure.

The issue that we need to discuss is -

How do we allow the free-market system to work so that we have medical advances, while...

The healthcare costs can become more reasonable so that more people have more choices and more options.

If you nationalize healthcare (take profit out of the system), you insure that we will have little medical advances (procedurally, or pharmacutically).

Nations that have government systems have been riding on the coattails of our free-market system (that is not looking at this from an apples-to-apples point of view).

Initially, we need to -
1. Get rid of medical malpractice, or limit it severely (your Democrats don't want to see this (can we say, "in the pocket of trial lawyers?"). I can guaranty you that they do not have MM in Cuba.

2. Get rid of advertising of presecription drugs. We have people going into the doctor asking for the 'little purple pill' (and they have no idea of what it even does!!!).

3. We have to take a new look at insurance. You buy auto insurance and it does not pay for routine maintenance (wipers, gas, tires, etc.) - if people were more exposed to the cost of their healthcare costs, they might be more interested in taking care of themselves.

4. We need to deal with 'health' in this country. Of course we have issues - more than half the country is grossly overweight, a great percentage smokes and drinking is a big issue. These issues create so much stress on our healthcare system, of course it is a mess.

Until we deal with the underlying health issues that create the mess, there will always be a mess.

Yes, the system has serious issues, but let's be honest, the US Government is far better at creating problems than it is at fixing problems (which, I do not believe that it has EVER been successful at).

Maybe Michael Moore should make a movie caled 'FATSO - Obesity In America' and see if he can start finding a solution to the problem, rather than profiting from doing noting more than pointing out the problem (which any sane person already knows exists). And he could lose 120-pounds to show everyone that it can be done.

Jim Mowen said...


Of course it is not apples-to-apples when you are comparing countries that have totally different standards of living.

The United States has a far greater percentage of people that are overweight, that drink, etc. These affect health.

As for infant mortality rates...you have women having babies as a means to get more welfare...of course their health is going to be a problem for their not-yet-born baby.

And, by the way...what do you care about infant mortality for...if we can abort them legally at the point of birth (partial birth abortion), a position that Mr. Evans voted to allow...why would this be an issue for you?

Dave Barrett said...

Neither I nor Michael Moore are claiming that Cuba is a better country than the US or even that Cuba has a better health care system overall than the US. We were just pointing out that Cuba has a health care system that performs near the level of ours (#37 and #39) while spending 1/27 as much per capita. Doesn't that suggest that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we are doing things?

Of course the poor ratings of US health compared to other countries is due to poor eating and other voluntary choices in addition to our health care system. But we are paying far more than other countries for our health care. What is all that extra cost getting us?

Jim, are you really claiming that we need to pay a lot more than other countries so that new drugs and medical procedures can be developed that all the world benefits from? Why is it our responsibility to subsidize these companies? Is this some form of foreign aid that conservatives are supporting, benefitting the world on the backs of American consumers?

Jim, your suggestions for fixing what's wrong are just tinkering with the free enterprise private health care system that caused all these problems. What Michael Moore is pointing out is that private health insurance does not offer effiency and cost saving benefits over government bureacracies, at least with regards to health care. Our system of private health insurers cost us far more than the single-payer government systems of the rest of the developed world while offering worse care, because the private health insurance companies make more money denying care. Since they are in the business of making a profit everything, including the public good and caring for their customers, is sacrified to that goal.

America is great country and Americans are great people. We deserve the best health care system in the world. I bet we could create a single-payer health care that covers everyone and is better than those of Canada, France and the other European countries. We just need to abandon this system of multiple private health insurance companies because the profit motive is NOT WORKING in regards to health care.

Jim Mowen said...


Our system has issue, no doubt about it. However, you fail to understand that the US free-market system indeed fuels the world healthcare system.

Open Heart surgery - US.
Transplants - US
Prostetics - US
Joint Replacements - US
Cancer Treatments - US
AIDS drugs - US
Virtually every major drug - US

The reality is that virtually every medical advancement has come due to the free-market system.

Again, you need to think beyond the end of your nose. If you want medical advancements to stop, then take the profit out of the system.

Do you want to find a cure for AIDS, cancer, MD, Parkinsons, etc? If so, it will not get accomplished if no one profits from it (if you understand 'risk/ reward' then you can appreciate the fact that no one will risk capital (money) if there is no profit).

You cannot have it both ways. Liberals scream for embryonic stem cell research (at tax payer expense) yet in the same breath state that the cost of the research/ healthcare system is too great.

Bottom-line is that it is far too simplistic to think that government (which has failed at everything that they have touched) is going to be able to deliver healthcare in a better manner, have the same advances - all at a lower cost.

Are too many people making too much money in healthcare - certainly. But thinking that we need to be copying Cuba's system (or Canada's) is a joke.

If you think that you'll get better service and more choices, wow!!!

But, like usual, I believe that we are going to have to agree to disagree, because you are not going to convince me that those systems are better (see, I can read) and I think that you are so in love with anything socialistic that I certainly am not going to convince you.

Dave Barrett said...

We are paying much more for medical care than anyone else in the world. You claim that is necessary for new drugs and medical procedures to be developed. Well, if that were the case then the rest of the world would be playing us for suckers, won't they?! We are paying for all that development and they reap the benefits of that development without paying for it. What a bunch of suckers we would be if that were the case.

But, of course, it is not the case. If fact we pay higher prices for drugs for nothing. The drug companies are making huge profits above and beyond the money they spend on developing new drugs. The amount they spend on development is part of their costs. They are making 15-20% profit beyond that.

Do you really know what the health care systems of Canada and western Europe are like? Have you ever talked to anyone who lives there?

Jim Mowen said...

Dave, you clearly have no clue how the free market system works.

You are on your own.

And yes, I have been to Europe and know people there, and from there. I know people from Canada as well. And, of course you will not believe it, but they have nothing good to say about their healthcare systems either.

You clearly want to believe what you want to believe.

Dave Barrett said...

"You are on your own"
You are going to be hearing a lot of people who feel exactly like I do about the US health care system.

"they have nothing good to say.."
Well, they may complain a lot but you should ask them if they would like to switch health care systems with the US. The Canadians and Europeans I have been talking to most certainly would NOT.

Jim Mowen said...

Dave, of course a lot of people are upset with the healthcare system and most everyone is complaining. Of course with 'Sicko' - a lot of horse-and-buggy thinking people will think that Cuba and Europe have better systems.

However, what you continue to fail to see is that thousands of Canadians and Europeans flock to the US for their healthcare needs.

Dang, I think that if Michael Moore said that eating 10-candy bars a day would help you lose weight, you'd be running to the store!