Michael Moore yesterday held the first screening of his new film on the health care industry, Sicko, and there to see it were “grateful Sept. 11 ‘first responders,’ suffering lung problems or other ailments from their days at ground zero. In the film, Moore takes them to Cuba and tries to get them treated at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay — where, he contends, terror suspects were getting better medical care than the heroes of 9/11.”
Donna Smith, in from Denver with her husband, Larry, was in tears when she spoke. The film opens with their painful story: Plagued with health problems, they were forced to sell their home and move into the storage room of their daughter’s house because they couldn’t cope with health costs, even though they were insured.
“Health care is an embarrassment to our nation,” Donna told Moore. “You give dignity to every American in this film.”
Lost in all the publicity over Moore’s trip is the reason he went to Cuba in the first place.
He says he hadn’t intended to go, but then discovered the U.S. government was boasting of the excellent medical care it provides terror suspects detained at Guantanamo. So Moore decided that the 9/11 workers and a few other patients, all of whom had serious trouble paying for care at home, should have the same chance.
“Here the detainees were getting colonoscopies and nutrition counseling,” Moore told The Associated Press in an interview, “and these people at home were suffering. I said, ‘We gotta go and see if we can get these people the same treatment the government gives al-Qaida.’ It seemed the only fair thing to do.”