Thursday, July 05, 2007


July 5, 2007, 6:00 a.m.

As it happened, there was no news this morning crying out with an urgent need for my commentary.

So I took a couple of early morning hours to watch -- for the first time -- my copy of Michael Moore's new feature film "Sicko."

Make sure you see it. Trust me.

If it doesn't make you as angry as you've ever been, if it doesn't cause you to shed a tear for what we're doing to America's neediest, and for what America could be, you probably are in need of a full range of health care services yourself -- and deserve what you're paying for what you're getting.

Then, make it clear to every elected official you encounter -- especially the candidates for president, and the U.S. Senate and house -- that you expect them to watch it, and then to tell you how much money they've taken from the health care industry lobbyists and corporations, and to provide you the reasons they are still opposing the universal, single-payer health care systems available around the world. These are countries that spend less on health care than we do, and yet provide a level of service that results in better life expectancy, infant mortality and other statistics than in this country.

There are many things the capitalist system can do better than any other alternative imaginable. Handing over to profit-maximizing corporations the delivery of anything as basic as health care to all of a nation's citizens just turns out not to be among them.

As a friend of mine, a candidate in a previous presidential campaign, was fond of saying, "I don't want every American to have health insurance. I want every American to have health care." It's an important distinction. And so far, once again, most of the candidates are still talking about health insurance.

Curious as to why?
I won't say more. Just watch it. "Sicko."

Now I'm off for the day on an investigative trip I'll be reporting to you here, hopefully tomorrow.

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[Note: If you're new to this blog, and interested in the whole UI President Search story . . .

This blog began in June 2006 and has addressed, and continues to addresses, a number of public policy, political, media, education, economic development, and other issues -- not just the UI presidential search. But that is the subject to which most attention has been focused in blog entries between November 2006 and June 2007.

The presidential search blog entries begin with Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search I," November 18, 2006. They end with Nicholas Johnson, "UI Held Hostage Day 505 - Next (Now This) Week," June 10, 2007 (100-plus pages printed; a single blog entry for the events of June 10-21 ("Day 516"), plus over 150 attached comments from readers), and Nicholas Johnson, "UI Hostages Free At Last -- Habemas Mamam!," June 22, 2007.

Wondering where the "UI Held Hostage" came from? Click here. (As of January 25 the count has run from January 21, 2006, rather than last November.)

For any given entry, links to the prior 10 will be found in the left-most column. Going directly to will take you to the latest. Each entry related to the UI presidential search contains links to the full text of virtually all known, non-repetitive media stories and commentary, including mine, since the last blog entry. Together they represent what The Chronicle of Higher Education has called "one of the most comprehensive analyses of the controversy." The last time there was an entry containing the summary of prior entries' commentary (with the heading "This Blog's Focus on Regents' Presidential Search") is Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search XIII -- Last Week," December 11, 2006.

My early proposed solution to the conflict is provided in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search VII: The Answer," November 26, 2006.

Searching: the fullest collection of basic documents related to the search is contained in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search - Dec. 21-25," December 21, 2006 (and updated thereafter), at the bottom of that blog entry under "References." A Blog Index of entries on all subjects since June 2006 is also available. And note that if you know (or can guess at) a word to search on, the "Blogger" bar near the top of your browser has a blank, followed by "SEARCH THIS BLOG," that enables you to search all entries in this Blog since June 2006.]

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Anonymous said...

I have not seen Moore's film. That being said, we all know this is a very flawed system, but to call it any sort of market based capitalist system is wrong.

The solution is NOT single payer. The solution is a true market. Create tax free health savings accounts packaged with lower cost catastrophic health plans. There is NO accountability in our system. We have all these health problems because of obese america with its heart attacks and diabetes.

We need to take away the emotional moral arguments here and strip it to the core of the issue. No matter what one thinks of it, the provider (Doctor, Nurse, Hospital, etc.) is providing a good and/or service and the patient is the consumer purchasing it. It is a market and the current system or a single payer are flawed systems.

My uncle practiced medicine for many years in a small city in Iowa, and told me that he felt that Medicaid/Medicare made it much more difficult and prior to that Doctors practiced on a sliding scale, which was somewhat part of the ethics of the medical society. The cost of administration is so ridiculous in the current system its a joke.

As an employer and manager of a few different sized organizations I have seen less than double digit increases in our rates only twice since 2000, and that was because we made a change in the plan that usually raised the deductible or was more managed care.

This is a perfect example of how bought and paid for our government is at the federal level. I can hardly stomach watching all these people hop around the state. Each and every one is beholden to an economic sector of some sort. Don't just hit the Republicans here. The Dems roll right over for the telecommunications and entertainment industries.

Vote for a Change in 2008, avoid the 2 parties!!!

Anonymous said...

I have two questions: (1) Can you share with us how to acquire a personal copy of SICKO and if not, (2) doesn't this give you a moral obligation to hold a house party viewing for all of your faithful blog-readers?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr barleyKorn
If you were diagnosed with lung
cancer what "market" is available to you at that point whether or not you had health insurance? If you did have insurance what incentives would the insurance company have to maximize your treatment options?

Tax free savings accounts and catastrophic health plans will only be utilized by those who can afford them and who have reason to believe that they will need them which would be a small pool of high risk patients.

There is no effective health care market because there is no real choice available to the customer when it is most needed especially with catastrophic insurance. Therefor insurance companies will always have the incentive to deny payments and minimize the options for care. Of course they don't make denial of care obvious or blatent, they just deny authorizations for minor or obtuse reasons in hope that providers and patients won't refile.

Anonymous said...

A lot more people could afford a catastrophic plan than can afford a single family plan now, which is around 12K a year with Wellmark. A single plan is aorund 5K.

I agree there is no incentive in the current system. If you had a true market system, the incentive would be to keep and attract patients based on the quality of the service one provides.

I expect none of this to happen of course. I don't understand this fixation with a single payer system. It just makes for a system where everyone gets average-poor care and you attract a less talented group of professionals over the long run. It will also stifle innovation in the system.

Health Care is not a right. I do not want to pay for a systems whose costs are driven by people stuffing twinkies in their face, getting drunk all the time, and smoking 2 packs of Winstons a day, all the while being clinically obese. I believe a person should have the right to live the lifestyle they choose, but face the consequences of those actions.