From the Editor

August 3, 2007

Speak up about Sicko

In one of the most publicized movie openings since the first Harry Potter film, producer Michael Moore introduced a documentary that tries to do for healthcare what Al Gore did for global warming.

Sicko has all the signs of whipping up a public firestorm to pressure politicians in a hot pre-election year. The movie burns us with wrenching images of people in misery caused by lack of health insurance coverage and lack of access to healthcare.

But will Moore's spin propel us in a wrong direction?

The article also mentions one person who is suing to get out of the Canadian healthcare system and reports that, in 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that "access to wait lines is not access to healthcare."

Focusing our country on healthcare coverage is positive. In America, everyone-regardless of income-should be able to get basic healthcare. The question is, how do we achieve it?

Moore leads viewers down a simplistic path of "Here's the problem; here's the solution." His answer is a single government payer. A minority of doctors and healthcare providers agree with him, including Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of doctors, medical students, and healthcare professionals. In line with Moore's view, some healthcare providers are urging legislators to pass HR 676 (The United States National Health Insurance Act) in Congress, a bill that would establish a government single-payer healthcare program to provide universal health insurance.

Most doctors support a less sweeping solution. The American College of Physicians (ACP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommend retaining our private insurance system and restructuring how doctors get compensated. Rather than being paid on volume, each patient would have a medical "home," and doctors would be paid based on how well they coordinate treatment and care for patients.

The AMA recommends expanding private coverage to children and lower-income families, using tax credits and encouraging a consumer-directed system.

Other variations have also sprung up. Massachusetts' Health Care Reform plan aims to bring affordable private health insurance to all residents and requires most of them to have coverage. The plan includes lower-cost policies, premiums on a sliding scale, and no deductible. Currently, California is considering a number of healthcare plans.

It's a safe bet that our healthcare system will be changing. Hopefully, the public will look beyond any gut reactions the movie engenders, and consider other solutions.

What was your reaction to Sicko? Was Moore too tough on our healthcare system, and too glowing about others? Or was he right on target? Have you experienced another country's healthcare system? And most important-how can we fix our system? We're eager to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

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