There's a rule in the gay media: if the subject is left of center (the further the better), he or she is to receive executive treatment, the kind of fawning usually reserved for George Clooney on a press junket. No better example than publicist journalist Corey Scholibo's interview with Michael Moore:
Sample question: I have to say after seeing the film, I felt like moving to another country where the medical system and the government make it a point to take care of everyone. Is there hope for reforming the system? Are we all doomed?
Like TB, HIV is viewed by the state as a medical condition for which an individual bears social responsibility. Individuals who test positive for HIV are required to spend at least three months in an AIDS sanatorium where they take a training course in living with HIV and protecting others from exposure. As part of the sanatorium model's 1993 reform, they also have the option of attending the training on an outpatient basis. Today, 48% of Cuba's HIV population live in the sanatoriums.
Despite what Moore would have you believe, America's health care system, while in need of serious repair, isn't broken.
Moore ignores the positive side altogether. For all its problems, the United States still provides the highest-quality health care in the world. 18 of the last 25 winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine either are U.S. citizens or work here. With no price controls, free-market U.S. medicine provides the incentives that lead to innovation breakthroughs in new drugs and other medical technologies.
U.S. companies have developed half of all the major new medicines introduced worldwide over the past 20 years, and according to a survey by the president's Council of Economic Advisors, Americans have played a key role in 80 percent of the most important medical advances of the past 30 years.
There are real solutions to our health care deficiencies; leave it to a propagandist like Moore to find false remedies in a hellhole like Cuba.
Sicko concludes with Moore speaking in soothing, dulcet tones over mawkish orchestral music. The sotto voce lesson is Rodney King-ish, admonishing Cubans and Americans to just get along, and for the rest of us to take care of our fellow man while, presumably, campaigning for Dennis Kucinich. So after two hours of limp jokes that would make Bruce Vilanch wince and a continent-spanning exploration of socialized medicine, Moore's specific policy prescriptions are impossible to find. Without them, he ends up urging viewers to just let the government run the damn thing.
But as P.J. O'Rourke once commented, if Mike thinks health care is expensive now, just wait until it's free.
Only the very rich would conclude that America's health care system operates as it should. The U.S. spends more per capita on health care than any other country but isn't getting its money's worth.
Still, Moore's solution -- a government-run, single-payer system -- would not be an improvement.
In 2005, London's Evening Standard reported that Hammersmith Hospital would slash hundreds of jobs; the hospital, the most debt-ridden in Britain, was hemorrhaging money and desperately needed to cut costs. And while the hospital was "downsizing", Hammersmith's CEO—yes, even the NHS has an executive class—collected a year-end bonus of close to $20,000. Small beer by American standards, but enough to provoke tabloid headlines in Britain.
Much like the American hospitals Moore excoriates, Hammersmith Hospital, the Evening Standard reported, faced pressure from administrators to limit the number of patients treated in order to cut spending. In a country where the government promises to winnow down queues to 18 weeks, this isn't an anomalous problem. A recent BBC documentary accused the NHS of using dangerously high doses of radiation on patients "to save time and money."
Frankly, I don't know enough about the issue to proffer a remedy. But I know I don't trust Michael Moore to shoot straight. Nor do I trust the government to fix what's broken.