Moore’s film Sicko, which he describes as “a comedy about 45 million people with no health care in the richest country on Earth,” promises to deliver a withering, if one-sided, indictment against America’s health care system, taking particular aim at the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
And though they have not yet seen the movie, to be released nationwide Friday, June 29, health insurance and pharmaceutical executives and employer groups have been striking back at Moore and his proposal to end the health care crisis by abolishing private health insurance in favor of a government-run single-payer plan.
“The American people do not support a government takeover of the entire health care system because they know that means long waits for rationed care,” says Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s lobby group, in a press release.
The statement was issued just after Moore appeared before throngs of supporters outside the statehouse in Sacramento, California, where he had been stumping for his policy—and his movie—as part of a well-coordinated publicity campaign.
“Without question there are problems in the American health care system,” says Neil Trautwein, vice president and employee benefits policy counsel for the National Retail Federation, that industry’s lobby group. “But as I understand it, the national health care system Mr. Moore posits as an alternative would lead to far more dislocations and far more pressures than the current system.”
James Gelfand, manager of health policy for the ERISA Industry Committee, an organization representing the pension and health plan interests of Fortune 100 employers, says
“I would have been happy to arrange a meeting with many corporate executives who would have lots of good things to say about how we can expand access to health care in the
Moore the polemicist may strike a nerve in the American psyche, but his impact on the debate will not change health care, these policy experts say. What is needed, says Trautwein, is a change in health care’s financial incentives so that medical providers get paid for the quality of the care they provide.