Filmmaker holds a press conference
Mr. Moore came to Washington and, in a textbook illustration of how politics and showbiz can be perfect bedfellows, held a standing-room-only press conference on Wednesday touting his latest doc and a House bill that could cure the subject the film addresses.
“Sicko” director Michael Moore was joined by more than a dozen lawmakers — including Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and Rep. John Conyers, the Dem chairman of the influential House Judiciary Committee. Moore lectured, advised and pleaded in reference to the issues raised in his film, which focuses on the shortcomings of the U.S. health care system.
He warned of health insurance companies, which he singled out as most responsible for a health care system that is “the biggest sicko in the country.” Those companies, Moore said, have a “fiduciary responsibility to maximize profits for shareholders.” The way they do that is by not paying claims or approving procedures, he said.
“After seeing the movie, millions of Americans will be coming after you,” Moore predicted. “We have got to remove the profit motive from health care.” Moore said health care companies “need to be regulated like public utilities.”
Legislators echoed his urgings for people to go see the film, which opens Friday, and then in turn press their elected representatives to support H.R. 676, a bill that would provide national health insurance for every citizen. Conyers introduced the bill in January.
The news conference was part of an all-day publicity offensive in D.C., beginning in the morning with a speech challenging all presidential candidates to propose specific means to fix the health care system and provide health care insurance to the 47 million Americans who lack it.
Screenings were held for health care industry lobbyists with a red carpet affair later for Congress.
Lawmakers offered personal stories of people they know who have suffered or died because of no health coverage. Conyers likened the effort to reform health care to the civil rights struggle. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) hailed Moore as “a hero” who has persevered in the face of sometimes excoriating, right-wing criticism.
But it was Moore who seemed to evoke the populist, idealistic spirit embodied in Frank Capra’s classic, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
“Every American has a human right to know that when he gets sick, he can go to the doctor without worrying if he can afford it,” Moore said. “The first word in our founding document is ‘we,’ as in ‘We the people.’ We are all in the same boat on this. We will all sink or swim together.”