June 13, 2007 — -- When filmmaker Michael Moore attacks a problem, he also likes to place blame.
In "Sicko," his new movie about the state of the American health-care industry, he blames the industry, the government and the media for not asking the tough questions.
On "Good Morning America" today, Moore told ABC's Chris Cuomo that he was concerned that the health-care debate would go the way of the war debate, where he also thinks the media is to blame. He said that had journalists confronted the government about its decision to invade Iraq, they could have saved thousands of lives.
"My point is that had ABC News, NBC News, CBS News been more aggressive in confronting the government with what they were telling us back in 2003 about Iraq, you might have prevented this war. You, this network, the other networks," Moore said. "Those 3,500 soldiers that are dead today may not have had to die had our news media done its job. … My point is that the media didn't ask the questions."
Moore said he hoped that by asking questions Americans could effect change in the health-care system.
In "Sicko," he finds an uninsured patient who lost two fingers and, for financial reasons, is forced to make a choice about which one he wants reattached. Moore wants to eliminate debates like that by establishing a single-payer insurance system that is not profit-based.
"Every other Western industrialized country has single-payer health insurance except us," he said. "And [in] each of those countries, [citizens] live as long or longer than we do."
"Sicko" is filled with examples of free or virtually free care around the world, from cheap prescription drugs to free hospital stays. The movie features a British hospital in which the cashier gives money to patients with reduced means. He said American audiences would be shocked by how health care was handled in other countries.
"I think when Americans see this movie, people in the studio are laughing because they are, like, 'What?'" he said.
But critics argue that the countries Moore represents as ideal also have some serious problems, like high tax burdens and long wait times for treatment.
And while health-care reform is a focus of the 2008 election, no top tier candidate is considering a single-payer system. Moore said he knew why.
"These guys are bought and paid for by this industry," he said, "and that's why we're not going to have change as long as that system of money buying our politicians continues to exist in this country."
Pending that solution, Moore thinks Americans need to do their part to avoid the health-care system in the first place. After "Sicko," he's come up with a personal plan to cut his health-care costs by losing weight: Call it less is Moore.
"I changed what I was eating — not that radically," he said. "Guys like me from the Midwest, we're never going to go on diets or go to a spinning class."