'Sicko' Raises Hope for a Cure

"Fahrenheit 9/11" filmmaker takes aim at healthcare industry in last doc.

June 21, 2007 — -- The capital premiered Michael Moore's latest film, "Sicko," alongside fresh health-care reform legislation Wednesday in a uniquely D.C. blend of politics and entertainment.

Moore's latest documentary follows average Americans navigating the nation's health-care system and compares it to government-run programs in countries like France and Canada.

Ultimately, the film portrays the American health-care system as a broken one, arguing that the crisis affects not only the 47 million uninsured Americans, but also millions of premium-paying citizens struggling against bureaucratic red tape.

Mr. Moore Goes to Washington

"Sickness doesn't know Democrat or Republican," Moore said on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon during a news conference where he touted the merits of a not-for-profit national health-care system enshrined in a bill introduced in 2003.

Moore joined Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who are co-sponsoring legislation that would create a comprehensive, publicly financed national health insurance program covering everything from dental to emergency care by the physician of the individual's choice.

"This is not a political issue," Moore said. "I can't imagine anyone that doesn't believe that every American has the human right that when they get sick they have the right to go to a doctor and not have to worry about whether or not they can afford it."

Critics have called "Sicko" the least agitprop of Moore's films.

In a written review, Fox News' Roger Friedman said, "This time around, the controversial documentarian seems to be letting the subject matter do the talking, and in the process shows a new maturity."

Political Personalities in Attendance

Still, no Republican Congress member was seen at the film's screening in Washington where six Democratic representatives made appearances, perhaps symbolically demonstrating the unlikelihood of a bipartisan partnership anytime soon.

Along with Kucinich and Conyers, political personalities in attendance included Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Fla.; Jane Harman, D-Calif.; Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.; and Bob Filner, D-Calif.

"I think the movie is going to rally public support for our bill. It is going to cause people to become aware of the level of suffering," Kucinich said in a Wednesday interview. "In a sense, it is a landmark in documentary filmmaking because it is going to mobilize public support for a change in our health-care system."

Kucinich's co-sponsored bill also aims to extend and improve Medicare coverage so that every person residing in or visiting the United States or a U.S. territory, regardless of legal status, would be eligible for unlimited health care.

Ideological Clashes

At the film's screening, ideological clash was also evident.

Mock nurses wheeled around a fake Fidel Castro protesting Moore's visit to Cuba with Sept. 11 rescue workers who are unable to access treatment in the United States and receive free care on the island.

Registered nurses touring with the film to promote their issue alternately chanted "Health care!" and "Justice!"

Washington's Red Carpet

The nation's capital suffers beneath the title of "Hollywood for Ugly People." Where Hollywood provides its A-list glitterati, Washington, D.C., is more likely to supply a sampling of political potpourri.

Along the velvet-rope line, photographers stood around unsure of whom to snap as Washington's congressional personalities arrived in professional business wear, parading Crocs alongside practical pumps.

Comparing the D.C. red carpet to that of New York's, Laura Pino, the authoritative advocate featured in Moore's film, remarked: "They ask so many more questions here."

ABC News' A'Melody Lee contributed to this report.