For immediate release: June 1, 2007
Quentin Young, MD: (312) 782-6006
Nicholas Skala: (312) 782-6006
Film maker Michael Moore’s new documentary “Sicko” will premiere on Tuesday, June 12 in Sacramento with Physicians for a National Health Program, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, and other supporters of single payer national health insurance. “Sicko” opens nationwide in theaters on June 29.
California is a key state for health care reform. One-in-four state residents is uninsured, costs are skyrocketing, and outrage has erupted over the recent $950 million dividend paid by the state’s Blue Cross plan to their new owner, the Indianapolis insurance giant Wellpoint, on top of the $600 million awarded to top executives involved in the 2004 merger.
Debate at the state level mirrors that of the national scene, which boils down to a choice between just two paths for health reform. One path (supported by Schwarzenegger, Massachusett’s Mitt Romney, and Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards) is to continue to rely on the wasteful private insurance industry and tinker with tax policy, public subsidies, and other changes favoring insurers. Such reform is administratively complex, would fail to cover all the 46 million uninsured, and adds costs to a health system already the most expensive in the world. States that have tried this path (Hawaii in 1974, Oregon in 1989, Massachusetts in 1988, and Maine in 2003) have more uninsured than before the plans passed.
The other path for reform is single payer, as proposed by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, chair of the California Senate’s Health Committee. Kueh’s bill (SB 840) would replace private insurers with a single comprehensive plan to cover all Californians. The savings on administrative overhead would allow the state to cover everyone and save an additional $7 billion per year, according to the prestigious Lewin consulting firm. On the national level, single payer would save $350 billion annually on paperwork costs, enough to cover all the nation’s uninsured and to upgrade coverage for the UNDER-insured. National legislation based on the proposal, HR 676, the Conyers/Kucinich bill, has over 70 co-sponsors.
Single payer gained the support of both houses of the California legislature last year, and is favored by a majority of “likely voters” and 70 percent of “likely Democratic primary voters” in the polls. “Our campaign with physicians and nurses across the country in conjunction with the release of “Sicko” will boost the visibility of the single payer option for reform,” said Dr. Quentin Young. “It’s the only cure for our Sicko health system.”
Michael Moore will testify at a legislative briefing for the co-authors of SB 840 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in State Capitol Room 4203. The briefing will be followed by a big rally with Moore sponsored by the California Nurses Association (CNA). CNA, Physicians for a National Health Program, and other single payer supporters will rally on the West Steps of the Capitol and then a special premiere of “Sicko” for RNs, doctors and invited guests.
Physicians for a National Health Program was founded in 1986 and has over 14,000 members and chapters across the U.S. PNHP has physician spokespeople in every state. For contact information, write [email protected] or see our web site at www.pnhp.org