Health Care and Human Rights: Michael Moore Compares What Cuba and America Now Export

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michael moore.jpg
Michael Moore is making quite a splash in Washington with his new film, Sicko. I have yet to see the film, but I think that one of the key takeaways from the documentary on the sorry state of American health care is that in Cuba, comprehensive quality health care is considered a human right.
Cuba gets much wrong — but after Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Haditha, and frankly 47 million uninsured Americans with no health care — America has a diminished level of moral credibility to stand on when criticizing illiberal regimes. Today, Cuba is exporting doctors whereas it used to export revolution and weaponry. Without getting too deep for the moment, just ask yourself which country in the world tops the charts on exporting armaments and revolution.
Here is an article by Sarah van Gelder that explores the issue of health care as “right” and focuses on what Cuba has been able to do.
It is interesting to note that tonight’s guest blogger, Representative Jane Harman attended the Washington screening of Michael Moore’s film and supports dramatic change and reform in the terms of America’s engagement policies with Cuba.
In other US-Cuba news today, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) called America’s current policy “wrong-headed” and introduced legislation in the Senate calling for an end to trade and travel restrictions with Cuba. Congresspersons Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) joined Baucus in arguing for an overhaul in US-Cuba economic policy and introduced companion legislation in the House and Senate.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

34 comments on “Health Care and Human Rights: Michael Moore Compares What Cuba and America Now Export

  1. Brian Hackett says:

    Your comment Steve is true. Cuba’s got universal healthcare and exports doctors, we have pay-or-pray healthcare and export weapons. Fidel is the crazy one?

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  2. zak822 says:

    While normal compassion dictates that we take notice of the 47 million uninsured, doing so will not advance the political debate one whit.
    In my view, the debate will not advance until health care is tied to middle-class concerns.
    It’s sad to say, but no less true, but people worry about themselves and their families first. That’s why the Clinton health care plan was so easy to demonize as taking something away from the middle class. Remember the commercials?

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  3. Jessica says:

    Universal, affordable healthcare ought to be a priority in Washington. Perhaps it even ought to be the chief domestic priority. Globally, the United States needs to fulfill its commitment to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, which call for cutting world hunger in half by 2015 and eliminating it altogether by 2025. It is estimated that the expenditure of a mere $19 billion would eliminate starvation and malnutrition worldwide. In a time when the United States’ current defense budget is $522 billion, the goal of eradicating world hunger is clearly well within reach if we act together as one world.

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  4. MP says:

    Last time, Paul ran as a Libertarian. But the label is, politically speaking, the kiss of death.
    However, it’s worth remembering (and this is borne out by a casual reading of his lightly written website) that Libertarians believe in reducing taxes drastically and eliminating many “public welfare” programs for poor and middle class people. Such cuts and elimination are also what you could reasonably expect from a Paul presidency. I know quite a few Libertarians, and THIS is why they support Paul. Long after the Iraq War is a painful memory, this will be Paul’s legacy, I predict.

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  5. MP says:

    POA writes: “I see MP is trying to impugn Ron Paul, without actually criticizing Paul’s refusal to kow-tow to Israel and AIPAC.”
    No. What you see is MP quoting from Paul’s own web site on issues pertaining to health care that might be relevant to folks who are in favor of something like universal health care protection.
    I couldn’t care less whether Paul kow-tow’s to AIPAC or Israel. If he opposes AIPAC, then he’s on my side in that regard.

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  6. Richard W. Crews says:

    National Health Care needs to be presented as capitalist Freedom. The freedom to have your own business, to be an entrepreneur without the baggage of who you hire. The Freedom to change jobs without the mystery or mirage of the new health insurance situation. The Freedom to go out on a limb with new ventures. The Freedom to entice Toyota to build their plants in our country. The Freedom to plan ahead. The Freedom to stay home and raise a family or care for others. The Freedom to go to school, to improve yourself. The Freedom to marry someone not in perfect health. The Freedom to live with dignity when ill. The Freedom to have medical hope no matter who you are.
    This will strengthen marriages, lessen the financial strains, and eliminate half the bankruptcies. It will lower auto insurance and homeowner liabilities rates, and reduce lawsuits, since we’ll all get the care without costing each other.
    It will lower public liabilities, such as schools and parks.
    It will equalize the country = same basic boat = freedom to be decent

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  7. karenk says:

    thanx carroll, but I need to amend something. The main problem is how to give basic healthcare resources to the most people, without losing quality of care and the incentives to furthering advances in medical science/technology, which is driven by money. So there is a capitalistic element but its mostly a social endeavor and one which doesn’t have to cost a lot. Resources just have to be utilized appropriately.
    I’m certainly no policy expert, but perhaps a system with basic affordable national health insurance for all, with the option that, those who wish to pay more for improved services or private insurance, could do so. Sounds fair-or at least like some type of workable system to start with.
    One poster pointed out Michael Moores obesity, I read that Moore has started to eat healthier since having done that movie, and though I’m not a huge Moore fan, I thank God he did this film-we need to get with it fast.
    Because the cost of not taking care of everyone can become everyones problem in so many ways. To name just 1- No one cares if that guy with no insurance gets well, but when he gets on the subway and coughs resistant TB they will(or to echo recent events- a plane)
    Another problem is that people expect a quick fix-cure me quick. They eat all kinds of crap and far too much of it, get no exercise, are too stressed out to enjoy their life and wonder why they never feel well.
    People don’t see themselves as equal partners in their own health. This thinking has to change.

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  8. CheckingIn says:

    David Corn’s summary of the film
    Warning Spoiler!
    http://alternet.org/movies/55049/?page=1

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  9. CheckingIn says:

    I watched SICKO last night. It has it’s flaws == but boy was Moore on point. Wake up America that’s all I can say — before it’s too late.

    Reply

  10. Arun says:

    Off-topic: would Steven Clemons care to respond to this write-up about Pakistan?
    http://www.saag.org/%5Cpapers23%5Cpaper2272.html
    “PAKISTAN: UNITED STATES STRATEGIC COMPULSIONS PREVAIL OVER POLITICAL IMPERATIVES ”
    In a nutshell, the US is seen as being “in complete disregard of the prevailing Pakistani public political sentiment was underwriting the perpetuation of General Musharraf and the Pakistan Army military regime.”
    If this is “suspect” because written by an Indian, perhaps Steven Clemons would also like to browse through the Paksitani blog http://politicalpakistan.blogspot.com and in particular this:
    http://politicalpakistan.blogspot.com/2007/06/bush-mush.html

    Reply

  11. Zertz7 says:

    Would single payer solve morbid obseity? I suppose I’ll have to see the movie to find out if Mr Moore addresses this issue.
    A quick search finds the following:
    http://www.stronghealth.com/services/surgical/bariatric/morbidobesity.cfm
    I must say I’m having a hard time getting past Mr. Moore’s health issues to even consider his “simple” solution to the healthcare problem. If it’s so simple, he can “simply” lose the weight and get healthy and show us how it’s done. Perhaps if he can make that change, there’s some hope for the rest of us.

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  12. colleen says:

    Cuba’s maternal and child mortality rates are much better than ours too. Indeed and increasingly it’s beginning to look as if the US government gets far more wrong than the Cuban government in so many ways. Pathetic leadership and rampant greed is a bad combination.
    My question is how come the ‘official’ number of those without health insurance has remained essentially static for about a decade when both political parties and particularly the republicans have been openly pursuing policies, budget cuts and legislation which make insurance and health care unaffordable and unobtainable for more and more people. 47 million is absurdly low, imho.

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  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I see MP is trying to impugn Ron Paul, without actually criticizing Paul’s refusal to kow-tow to Israel and AIPAC.

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  14. bob h says:

    I have heard that Cuba spends a tiny fraction (a few %) of what we do on health care, but Cubans have a comparable life span.

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  15. Jon Stopa says:

    Chalmers Johnson first really opened my eyes as to the massive nature of our “security” establishment and its cost. I saw what he was talking about when I look back on the military I had served in. When you see our fleets of ships and planes, and the bases that support them, think about how much it costs to run them. Hour by hour, day by day. The long term bleeding of our citizens to support this power is why health care is too costly. This is an empire that will collapse under its “might.”

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  16. JohnH says:

    The basic rap against Cuba is that they won’t play according to rules made in USA, which USA is free to disregard, since USA set them. There are lots of regimes who were far worse, like Somoza, Pinochet, etc., but they pledged fealty to USA, so they were exempt from official criticism.
    As for health care, I was interviewed by a Venezuelan college student doing a research study. Among the questions, she asked if health care in my country was a human right, a government responsibility, or a legal requirement for others (employers). I had to say “none of the above.” She was shocked. Such an answer had been unconceivable to her. (Health care is a human right in the Venezuelan Constitution of 1999, which USA is trying mightily to overturn.)
    People often cite the fact that USA is the only industrialized country without universal health coverage. What they fail to note is that there are a lot of non-industrialized countries that offer health care as well. In Venezuela’s case, Cuban doctors made an enormous difference, initially treating illness but then moving on to prevention and healthy life styles (they promote a holistic approach to healthcare.)
    USA could learn a lot from Cuba and their approach to medicine.

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  17. Carroll says:

    Posted by karenk at June 22, 2007 06:30 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Right on!

    Reply

  18. karenk says:

    OOOOh don’t get me started on the disastrous business of health care-and it IS a business now. Don’t dare get sick without insurance and even if you do have it, the HMO/PPO will do their level best to deny your claims off the bat. I’ve seen the change in the system over the past 25 years working at the bedside, seeing how it affects real patients, on a real level. I had one patient who could hardly breathe but before we intubated her to put her on the ventilator she insisted on calling her insurance company to inform them so she would be approved for the hospitalization! Apparently, the last time she was acutely ill and on the ventilator for longer than the alotted 48 hours to inform them and they wouldn’t cover her hospitalization. I’ve been on the receiving end of HMO/PPO games but I never let them get away with them because I know medicine, so they can’t pull a fast one on me so easily. But I worry for the laypeople. I often joke that ‘Managed Care’ is really ‘Manage to Deny Care’. The Healthcare company’s motto to their customers is “Stay well or die, but don’t dare ask us to pay for your illness or injury”. HMO’s pay doctors to deny your claim. Pharmaceutical companies give them trips and other incentives to prescribe their meds, even if it’s not THE best for your condition. Since the Cold War ended I’ve been saying that we didn’t totally win it. We should have borrowed the idea of socialized medicine but everyone was so overfocused on that S word. But what has replaced it is healthcare as a business, run by business people, who don’;t know squat about healing the sick and injured. The business of business is making money, folks, NOT CARING!
    You get what you pay for. BUT caring for the sick is a socialistic endeavor, not a capitalistic one. Hey, you’re not SO fond of that one kid you have with cancer, are you? Is he really worth bankrupting the whole family???

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  19. Mr.Murder says:

    I’ve callep my Rep. twice the past month about engagement with Cuba, an agriculture voting bloc is ready to lead the way, it’s bipartisan as well.
    The effort to review the School of Americas could have helped us plausibly with developing new contacts abroad. It had 107 signors and bipartisan penmanship and failed to get through the House.
    That would have been a good start, a way to distance from past history and still develop new contacts through contractors and third parties so the vested interests could play ball. It would have also won some leverage for voting rights transparency in states where contractors were a big item, North Carolina comes to mind at this time.
    Back to the drawing board for that, but the Cuba policy can be worked through. They even offered medical assitance on Katrina, and we could elarn a thing or two about hurricane preparedness fromt hem also…

    Reply

  20. MP says:

    Hey, let’s check out Ron Paul’s voting record on Civil Rights. Here are some of his votes:
    Voted NO on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Jul 2006)
    Voted NO on making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)
    Voted NO on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Sep 2004)
    Voted YES on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance. (Sep 2004)
    Voted NO on constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration. (Jun 2003)
    Voted YES on banning gay adoptions in DC. (Jul 1999)
    Voted YES on ending preferential treatment by race in college admissions. (May 1998)
    Rated 67% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
    This is the usual mottled mix you get with libertarians. They want the government to stay out of just about everything…and want everything settled at the local level…but then they vote to BAN gay adoption in Washington, D.C. And they want to protect that ole pledge of allegiance. If it weren’t for the Iraq War, Ron would be sitting home counting tumbleweed.

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  21. MP says:

    When it comes it funding for stem cell research, are all of us Americans in this together? Not according to Ron Paul. Here he is in his own words via Lew Rockwell:
    “Medical and scientific ethics issues are in the news again, as Congress narrowly passed a bill last week that funds controversial embryonic stem cell research. While I certainly sympathize with those who understandably hope such research will lead to cures for terrible diseases, I object to forcing taxpayers who believe harvesting embryos is immoral to pay for it.”
    And furthermore…
    “The issue is not whether the federal government should fund one type of stem cell research or another. The issue is whether the federal government should fund stem cell research at all. Clearly there is no constitutional authority for Congress to do so, which means individual states and private citizens should decide whether to permit, ban, or fund it. Neither party in Washington can fathom that millions and millions of Americans simply don’t want their tax dollars spent on government research of any kind.”
    So the issue isn’t even stem cell research, but government-funded “research of ANY (emphasis added) kind” is simply… unconstitutional. Good-bye NIH. Good-bye NIMH.

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  22. MP says:

    Universal health care under Ron Paul?
    Any help with health care under Ron Paul?
    What says he about the insurance industry?
    Not a mumbling word.

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  23. MP says:

    How does Ron Paul feel about taxes paying for “the common good?” Here’s an inkling, also from the web site:
    “Working Americans like lower taxes. So do I. Lower taxes benefit all of us, creating jobs and allowing us to make more decisions for ourselves about our lives.
    “Whether a tax cut reduces a single mother’s payroll taxes by $40 a month or allows a business owner to save thousands in capital gains taxes and hire more employees, that tax cut is a good thing. Lower taxes allow more spending, saving, and investing which helps the economy — that means all of us. Real conservatives have always supported low taxes and low spending.”

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  24. MP says:

    What affect would a Ron Paul presidency have on our health care? Here’s an interesting tidbit, taken from his web site:
    “I am also the prime sponsor of HR 300, which would negate the effect of Roe v Wade by removing the ability of federal courts to interfere with state legislation to protect life. This is a practical, direct approach to ending federal court tyranny which threatens our constitutional republic and has caused the deaths of 45 million of the unborn.”
    http://www.ronpaul2008.com/issues/life-and-liberty/

    Reply

  25. semper fubar says:

    Carroll, it’s always struck me as odd that it isn’t framed and understood that way by everyone.
    Chalk it up to decades of libertarian/conservative brainwashing by our corporate overlords, I guess.

    Reply

  26. Carroll says:

    The news on Cuba is encouraging..I hope there will be some real force in congress behind this. It’s long overdue. Although I note that some of the Cuban born reps in congress and usual suspects were once again this week trying to pass a 90 million bill to fund “insurgents” in Cuba to overthrow Castro. Seems a little late in the game for that, not to mention a waste of taxpayer money. Someone quipped that all this would do is create 90 new Cuban millionaires.
    As for health care, everyone should have access to health care.
    But I don’t know about calling it a “right”..that could lurch over into a lot of things that aren’t exactly rights. Maybe we could call it a benefit of democracy instead.
    The thinking among the public who objects to paying for this needs to be changed to recongizing it as a fee they pay for living in a civil society. Same kind of fee we pay in our taxes for maintaining other areas of common good, same as fees homeowners pay for maintaining shared areas of the neighborhoods they live in. The same goes for what the corporations might contribute to this in the form of taxes..they need to accept the fact that it is the price they pay for doing business in a civil society.
    Beside which, if done right, it could end up saving us all a lot of health care money.

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  27. pauline says:

    from Democracy Now! 6/18/07 —
    “An Hour with Michael Moore on “Sicko,” his Trip to Cuba with 9/11 Rescue Workers, the Removal of Private Healthcare Companies & Clinton’s Ties to Insurance Companies: “They’re into Her Pocket and She’s Into Their Pocket And I Don’t Expect Much From Her”
    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/06/18/1326235&mode=thread&tid=25

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  28. semper fubar says:

    Your comment here is right on the money, steve. Cuba’s got universal healthcare and exports doctors, we have pay-or-pray healthcare and export weapons. And Fidel is the crazy one, right?

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  29. DonS says:

    Concensus of NPR/talk radio listeners (per “letters” segment I heard yesterday), seems to be that NPR spent the bulk of their story on the movie trashing Moore rather than addressing the substance of the film. Why is that?

    Reply

  30. john somer says:

    It;s acctually an interesting form of trade between Cuba and Venezuela: in exchange for cheap oil from Venezuela, Cuban doctors (of which the country has a surplus) are sent into the boondocks where no Venezuelan MD acccepts to go. Same deal with grammar school teachers

    Reply

  31. "Fair and Balanced" Dave says:

    So how many voting people support the Republican Cuban policy
    It’s really just a small group of Cuban expatriates in Florida. The only reason our idiotic policies vis a vis Cuba still exist is that the Cubans are the only Hispanic group that reliably votes Republican.

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  32. liz says:

    Steve there is another point to be made about healthcare that Michael Moore doesn’t get .
    Do you remember going to the doc growing up? Let’s say when you were 10 or 12ish…
    Didn’t your parent PAY CASH at the doctor’s? Wasn’t it like 5 bucks or 10 bucks??? It was in the south.
    After the doctor, came the drug store. No one had ” insurance”. My parents never remember a time that they were unable to write a check or pay cash for my medicines.
    ENTER INSURANCE>
    prices skyrocket to pay the middleman.
    Now it seems politicians want to line insurer’s pockets even heavier, making BUYING insurance mandatory.
    I could even go there if I did not see insurance companies abusing the system. Insurance is set up to limit and ration care.
    Here is my personal example and it is not a topic in Michael Moore’s movie. He left out this problem completely but it affects hundreds of thousands of Americans, and probably even Chuck ASchumer in the near future…
    Professional groups of doctors around the nation are being tasked to write ” treatment guidelines” for every disease and condition known to man. Some of the guidelines are good. Many are restrictive. They all become restrictive when you have a complicated picture and are dealing with perhaps more than one disease or health problem. I see this as similar to DRG’s back in the 80’s.
    DRG’s or diagnosis related groups were the way doctors and hospitals got paid in the 80;s when HMO’s came on the scene and all this mess started.
    Please note Richard Nixon was one of the responsible parties for HMO’s and Big time insurance.
    At any rate, in this era, we have treatment guidelines, again solely related to money and payment.
    However, American citizens with Lyme Disease are the test group. It would benefit everyone in the country to understand our plight .
    The Infectious Disease Society of America wrote a 13 page treatment guideline for Lyme Disease. Many of the physicians in the IDSA do not agree with this simplistic view of a devastating ZOONOTIC SPIROCHETE infection. ( think bioterrorism for zoonotic and Tuskegee for the spirochete part).
    Insurance companies only pay for these IDSA guidelines which in my professional RN view are barbaric , backwards and extremely restrictive.
    Patients are allowed 60 days of antibiotics, end of story. The IDSA says patients are cured after taking the 60th day of meds.
    That looks great on paper. It simply is not true. Patients are not well.
    In the meantime, state medical boards across America are investigating our resource doctors, harrassing these doctors, and disciplining them . After the disciplinary measures, Blue Cross Blue Shield moves in and sues the doctors treating human beings who are sick with Lyme Disease for medical and insurance fraud BASED ON THE IDSA guidelines…..
    There is a speciality group , the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society that wrote a competative and real 150 page treatment guideline. These medical specialists are constantly belittled and harrassed for telling the truth.
    So this is really where we are in healthcare matters since the Republicans took charge. They hate people and it shows.
    I have never been refused healthcare until I had Lyme Disease even though I had Lyme Disease all the time! When no one knew, they treated me compassionately and humanely. Now I am trash.
    I wish I had cancer or Aids.

    Reply

  33. Richard W. Crews says:

    So how many voting people support the Republican Cuban policy : We won’t recognize you until you give the whorehouses back to our mafia?
    Seriously, how many people expect to own something from the past there? I understand it’s an issue.

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  34. ... says:

    just goes to show how important propaganda is in shaping the ordinary mind of an american. up is down and down is up and don’t forget to maintain the patriotism!

    Reply

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