July 12, 2009

(h/t BlueGal)

It's a blockbuster admission that we already knew: The health care insurance industry was petrified that Americans would see Michael Moore's Sicko and realize that government-run health care was something that would be good for citizens and lead to better health outcomes.

CIGNA Public Relations Chief turned whistleblower Wendell Potter said the words to Bill Moyers that no insurance company wanted said out loud in this country:

BILL MOYERS: You were also involved in the campaign by the industry to discredit Michael Moore and his film "Sicko" in 2007. In that film Moore went to several countries around the world, and reported that their health care system was better than our health care system, in particular, Canada and England. [..]

So what did you think when you saw that film?

WENDELL POTTER: I thought that he hit the nail on the head with his movie. But the industry, from the moment that the industry learned that Michael Moore was taking on the health care industry, it was really concerned.

BILL MOYERS: What were they afraid of?

WENDELL POTTER: They were afraid that people would believe Michael Moore.

Of course, we knew this. We've been screaming it for years. Still, it's difficult to pierce through that Beltway bubble to those politicos that are still hemming and hawing as the insurance industry insiders fill their campaign coffers.


The full episode (which I cannot recommend highly enough) is available on PBS.com.

More from Moyers:

BILL MOYERS JOURNAL has covered the public option that appears to be on the table and the idea of a single-payer plan which is not. Find out more about those plans and all the iterations under consideration below.

>>Compare the current plans. The Public Option The public option, according to Robert Reich, is a government-run non-profit insurance pool, that, by virtue of its size and bargaining power, could control costs and offer people who are either uncovered by, or unhappy with, private insurers an affordable alternative path to health care. Medicare is an example of a public option, notes Reich, with one important caveat — the Medicare drug benefit bill passed during the Bush administration expressly forbids Medicare from using its size to negotiate for lower costs which would be an important strategy for keeping prices down.

Whence Single-Payer?Dr. David Himmelstein and Dr. Sidney Wolfe told Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL that President Obama isn't considering a popular plan — single-payer. In a recent town-hall meeting in New Mexico, President Obama said switching to single-payer would be too disruptive.

The term "single-payer" generally means a system in which rather than having private, for-profit insurance companies, the government runs one large non-profit insurance organization. That organization pays all the doctor, drug and hospital bills — it is the "single-payer" of all medical bills. In most single-payer plans, every American would be enrolled and would pay into the fund through taxes.

Advocates argue that a single-payer system would pay for itself, saving huge amounts of money in administrative costs. The U.S. currently pays a higher percentage of health dollars for administration than any other nation.

The U.S. also ranks highest in total cost of care, but according to a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund, ranks last among industrialized countries "in preventing deaths through use of timely and effective medical care." In a recent FRONTLINE report comparing the health care systems of five other capitalist democracies, "Sick Around the World," WASHINGTON POST reporter T.R. Reid notes that, "The World Health Organization says the U.S. health care system rates 37th in the world in terms of quality and fairness. All the other rich countries do better than we do, and yet they spend a heck of a lot less."

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