Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Moore's Blitzer Krieg

SiCKO' Truth Squad Sets CNN Straight

"(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)

CNN: The United States ranks highest in patient satisfaction.


  • True, but even when the WHO took patient satisfaction into account in its comprehensive review of the world's health systems, we still came in at #37. ("World Health Organization Assesses The World's Health Systems," Press Release, WHO/44, June 21, 2000. http://www.who.int/inf-pr-2000/en/pr2000-44.html ).
  • Patients may be satisfied in America, but not everyone gets to be a patient. 47 million are uninsured and are rarely patients - until it's too late. In the rest of the Western world, everyone and anyone can be a patient because everyone is covered. (And don't face exclusions for pre-existing conditions, co-pays, deductibles, and costly monthly premiums).
  • It's not that other countries are unhappy with their health care – for example, "70 to 80 percent of Canadians find their waiting times acceptable." ("Access to health care services in Canada, Waiting times for specialized services (January to December 2005)," Statistics Canada, http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/82-575-XIE/82-575-XIE2006002.htm )

CNN: Americans have shorter wait times than everyone but Germans when seeking non-emergency elective procedures, like hip replacement, cataract surgery, or knee repair.


  • This isn't the whole truth. CNN pulled out a statistic about elective procedures. Of the six countries surveyed in that study (United States, Canada, New Zealand, UK, Germany, Australia) only Canada had longer waiting times than America for sick adults waiting to schedule a doctor's appointment for a medical problem. 81% of patients in New Zealand got a same or next-day appointment for a non-routine visit, 71% in Britain, 69% in Germany, 66% in Australia, 47% in the U.S., and 36% in Canada. (The Doc's in, but It'll be AWhile. Catherine Arnst, Business Week. June 22, 2007 http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jun2007/
  • "Gerard Anderson, a Johns Hopkins health policy professor who has spent his career examining the world's healthcare, said there are delays, but not as many as conservatives state. In Canada, the United Kingdom and France, 'three percent of hospital discharges had delays in treatment,' Anderson told The Miami Herald. 'That's a relatively small number, and they're all elective surgeries, such as hip and knee replacement.' (John Dorschner, "'SiCKO' film is set to spark debate; Reformers are gearing up for 'Sicko,' the first major movie to examine America's often maligned healthcare system," Miami Herald, June 29, 2007.)
  • One way America is able to achieve decent waiting times is that it leaves 47 million people out of the health care system entirely, unlike any other Western country. When you remove 47 million people from the line, your wait should be shorter. So why is the U.S. second to last in wait times?
  • And there are even more Americans who keep themselves out of the system because of cost - in the United States, 24 percent of the population did not get medical care due to cost. That number is 5 percent in Canada, and 3 percent in the UK. (Inequities in Health Care: A Five-Country Survey. Robert Blendon et al, Health Affairs. Exhibit 5. http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/full/21/3/182)

CNN: (PAUL KECKLEY-Deloitte Health Care Analyst): "The concept that care is free in France, in Canada, in Cuba - and it's not. Those citizens pay for health services out of taxes. As a proportion of their household income, it's a significant number … (GUPTA): It's true that the French pay higher taxes, and so does nearly every country ahead of the United States on that list."


  • 'SiCKO' never claims that health care is provided absolutely for free in other countries, without tax contributions from citizens. Former MP Tony Benn reads from the NHS founding pamphlet, which explicitly states that "this is not a charity. You are paying for it mainly as taxpayers." 'SiCKO' also acknowledges that the French are "drowning in taxes." Comparatively, many Americans are drowning in insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays and medical debt and the resulting threat of bankruptcy – half of all bankruptcies in the United States are triggered by medical bills. (Medical Bills Make up Half of Bankruptcies. Feb. 2005, MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6895896/)

CNN: "But even higher taxes don't guarantee the coverage everyone wants … (KECKLEY): 15 to 20 percent of the population will purchase services outside the system of care run by the government."


  • It's not clear what country Keckley is referring to. In the United Kingdom, only 11.5 percent of the population has supplementary insurance, but it doesn't take the place of NHS insurance. Nobody in France buys insurance that replaces government insurance either, although a substantial amount buys some form of complimentary insurance. ( Private health insurance and access to health care in the European Union. Spring 2004. http://www.euro.who.int/document/Obs/EuroObserver6_1.pdf)

CNN: "But no matter how much Moore fudged the facts, and he did fudge some facts…"

  • This is libel. There is not a single fact that is "fudged" in the film. No one has proven a single fact in the film wrong. We expect CNN to correct their mistakes on the air and to apologize to their viewers.


  1. Anonymous7:56 AM

    Excellent rebuttal . . . but I would even go a bit further. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer interviewed Moore on Monday evening. Before the interview ever turned to “Sicko”, Moore demanded an apology for the one-sided, distorted presentation CNN provided in re: Fahrenheit 911 three years ago. Moore pointed out that he had exposed the Walter Reed situation more than 3 years ago, and mainstream media (including CNN) only ‘woke up to the situation’ this year, and then congratulated themselves for “keeping the public informed.”. The attack (on media) continued, and Moore got in a few zingers about the nature of (media) corporations who are subsidized by non-media corporate advertising. Blitzer could do little but admit that CNN is a corporation whose primary business is making money. As for your request (demand) for an apology: Moore has been waiting for 3 years, John, so don’t hold your breath for either a “correction” or an apology.


  2. Thanks for your comment.

    Just to set the record straight. The rebuttal is not mine, but straight from Michael Moore. I'm just quoting him here.

  3. Anonymous2:59 PM

    Interesting the Moore criticizes Gupta yet has a pre-determined conclusion which he seeks to buffer by showing one side.

    He even acknowledges that HMOs "lead people to be on the phone for an hour for $15" but he's advocating socialized medicine??

    Particularly classy was the indian-accented version of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's name.

  4. Anonymous4:54 PM

    The simple fact of the matter is that Gupta and Keckley were both contributing to the idea that moore is trying to pull off...ony they are the ones actually taking the ideas and policies and attempting some sort of reform. Both Dr. Gupta and Mr. Keckley agree with Moore that our healthsystem horrible and needs reformation. If Moore would actially take a minute to step back and just look at Mr. Keckley he would see that the "Think Tank" he heads for Delloitte is designed around health care reform through Evidence Based Medicine which in itself is a completely different monster that must be addressed before universal "free" healthcare can be reached. The simple fact here is that Moore is looking for any way to create controversy to increase his ticket sales and he's good at it. If you look at his website the facts attempting to discredit Keckley are not bad things at all. He did give money to a republican, but it was only 2500....oh and Moore didn't mention that within that same election peroid, he voted democratic. Moore goes on to say that he has ties with Blue Cross and another health insurance company, but this was during a period in which Keckley was head of EBM Solutions (Evidence Based Medicine). That's right, Keckley was calling for reform even as far back as then. This whole notion of discrediting the souorce for no apparent reason other than the fact that you are not willing to say, "Hey, I messed up some facts because I'm not a doctor, but I'm willing to fight for things so I can stay in the news and fill seats at my movie." is completely absurd. Look at the real facts: everyone agrees with Moore that the system must be changed, but in order to do so, the current system and it's alternative must be fully understood.


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