America Is Not 'Sicko,' Filmmaker to Tell Lawmakers

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT

( - A young filmmaker is heading to Capitol Hill on Thursday to discuss his views of the country's health care system. But it's not Michael Moore, and the message, in contrast to that promoted by the liberal activist, is that the U.S. is not "sicko."

In his new documentary, SiCKO, "Moore is promoting the myth that government-run health care is a magic bullet," newcomer Stuart Browning told Cybercast News Service on Wednesday.

"But the facts just don't support his claims," he said. "People need to have a rounded understanding of the issues. Only then can we hope to have a meaningful debate about what kinds of reforms will actually work."

Browning has produced and posted on his website short films covering various aspects of the nation's health care system. He will take part in a discussion at the U.S. Senate's Rayburn Building Thursday, hosted by the libertarian Cato Institute.

Apart from showing one of his films, Browning said he will join Cato director of health policy studies Michael Cannon and American Prospect writing fellow Ezra Klein to "debunk some of the demonstrably inaccurate claims Michael Moore makes in his new film."

Among the subjects in his videos is Shirley Healey, a resident of British Columbia who was scheduled for "urgent" surgery on a blocked artery in her home country -- in four months' time. Another is Lindsay McCreith, an Ontario man who was offered a "critical" MRI on his cancerous brain tumor -- again, with a four month delay.

The two gravely ill patients instead came to the United States where they received life-saving treatment within days, Browning said. He said the Canadian government's control of health services and the fact that private health insurance in Canada is illegal have resulted in long waiting lists for critical care.

"As our national debate about health care heats up, it's crucial to distinguish between facts and spin," Browning said. "Canada is facing a health-care crisis -- but you won't hear about that from those who argue that America should resolve its health care woes by modeling itself after the Canadian and Cuban systems."

Browning said he began making short films and launched his website "as a response to the push for single-payer health care, because I am an American concerned about personal liberties and medical freedom. It's that simple."

As Cybercast News Service reported earlier, Moore's SiCKO is opening on Friday, a week ahead of schedule.

Deann McEwen from Cyprus, Calif., a registered nurse for 33 years, told Cybercast News Service on Wednesday that Moore's film, which she has seen twice, "validates what registered nurses see every day of the year in their practice of how the administrative bureaucracy of insurance denies health care."

The current system is cumbersome "and really 'sicko' in our point of view because patients are not getting the care that they deserve," added McEwen, one of the organizers of a campaign built around the movie release, called Scrubs for SiCKO.

"Scrubs for SiCKO," a advocacy campaign that has participating doctors and nurses distributing information to moviegoers, is pushing for "single-payer health care, guaranteeing comprehensive, quality health care with an expanded and improved Medicare for all."

McEwen said she had not seen Browning's videos but dismissed his premise of market-based reforms, saying they "have never been shown to work. The market exists to make a profit, and the way they make a profit is by denying care."

"In our country, the problem is that 47 million people are rationed out of the system altogether," McEwen declared. "They have absolutely no access."

But Browning said both Moore and McEwen are wrong about the 47 million figure. He called it "a hugely politically inflated number that is nowhere close to reality."

Citing U.S. Census Bureau statistics, Browning said that "17 million of the uninsured reside in households with more than $50,000 in annual income. Of that total, nine million live in households having more than $75,000 in annual income.

"An additional 14 million people are included in that count who are eligible for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program," he added. Those people, he said, are effectively insured, "but they haven't bothered to sign up."

"Throw in six million Americans who are uninsured only for part of the year until they find another job, 12 million illegal immigrants who don't buy health insurance but are included in that number, and finally, 18 million American between 18 and 34 years of age -- many of whom can afford health insurance but spend four times as much on alcohol, tobacco, entertainment and dining out as they do on health care costs," he said.

Browning expects Moore's movie to do well in theaters "because a lot of people in the press have given him rave reviews."

Charging that the liberal filmmaker and his supporters are in effect calling for government control of a huge portion of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, Browning said "they can't point to a single place in the world where it has worked -- but they believe that socialized health care somehow will work here."

"It's socialism they're pushing for," he added.

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