Saturday, July 28, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Thursday, July 26th, 2007
I am overwhelmed by the response to "Sicko." And I'm not just talking about all the wonderful, heart-felt letters you've sent me and the stories you've shared with me about the abuse you've suffered from our health care system.
No, I'm talking about how thousands of you are taking matters into your own hands and using the movie to do something. From Seattle to New England, each day I learn of numerous groups holding meetings or dinners after the movie to discuss it and to plot a course for action. A church in Plano, TX took its weekly bible study group to see "SiCKO." 70 people crammed into a Wisconsin coffee shop's back room. Groups are plotting over pancakes in Illinois and microbrew in Missouri. E-mail addresses are being exchanged in theater lobbies. A Connecticut group is inviting legislators to see "Sicko" and keeping a tally on their website. Local groups have been buying out theaters to have special screenings for their members. Information tables are set up, literature is distributed, action groups are formed.
It's all an amazing sight. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to see the impact a movie can have. For all of you who have written me to ask, "What can I do," well, read more about what others have done, and then try these simple steps:
1. Call or write you member of Congress right now (I'll wait) and tell him or her that you insist they become a co-sponsor of H.R. 676 -- "The United States National Health Insurance Act." It's sponsored currently by Rep. John Conyers and 76 other members of Congress. Insist that your congressperson be one of those co-sponsors. I want to see 100 co-sponsors by Thanksgiving. Will you help make that happen?
2. Call and write to each of the candidates running for President. Tell them you expect them to back H.R. 676, and to take the Senator Brown pledge. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio refuses to accept his free, government-run health insurance until EVERY American is covered.
3. Organize your own local HealthCare-Now! coalition. You can do it in your own neighborhood. It has to start somewhere. Everyday people have to make this happen. Don't wait for someone else to do this. Ask yourself, "if not me, who?"
4. Call your local media and tell them about your health care horror story. Many papers and TV stations have been running these since "Sicko" arrived in theaters. They like the local angle. Tell them you saw the movie and that there's a "Sicko" story happening right here in (fill in the blank). Tell them you are passing it on to me.
Well, that's a start. Here's what I'm going to do. Because last weekend's "Win a Trip to a Universal Healthcare Country" was so successful (the winner will be announced next week), this weekend we're going to try something different: it's "Take a Republican to 'Sicko!'" C'mon, we all have a conservative in the family! They mean well. It's just that they believe what they've been told about that scary "socialized medicine." Treat them to the movie this weekend and tell them to send me their ticket stub and entry form. I will hold a drawing and the lucky winner will get to have me come to their home and do their laundry -- just like in France! Now, what would make a Republican happier than to see me working away in their laundry room?!
I truly believe that the health care issue is one where we can find some common ground with those who may hold different opinions than us. After all, they're getting the shaft by the same insurance and pharmaceutical companies we are. And sooner or later, they're not going to take it any more, either.
P.S. I will be on Jay Leno (The Tonight Show on NBC) tonight (Thursday) at 11:35pm ET/PT. I will be making a special announcement on the show.
Note from Lizzy: I can't wait to find out what Moore's special announcement is!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I really enjoyed CNN/YouTube's debate late night. It was refreshing to see questions being asked that would never have been asked by the MSM.
Having real people ask the candidates questions kept them on their toes. The candidates couldn't rely on pat well-rehearsed answers, and Anderson Cooper did a good job making sure they didn't veer off from the question.
I hope these kind of debates become the standard. The other kind suck.
As far as who I thought did the best job, it's hard to say. They all did well and I'd be happy if any of them became our President...including, gasp, Hillary. Personally, I thought Edwards, Biden, Obama, and Kucinich had the best performances. Mike Gravel's "follow the money" comment was right on. I liked what Obama said about meeting with all the world leaders. Edward's comment about struggling with the gay marriage issue seemed sincere. He was also very good about health care. I liked Kucinich's comment about how to end the war (cut funding), and Biden answered the questions with passion & humor. Richardson was great when asked about "no child left behind." He said to scrap it. Good answer.
Biden seemed the most Presidential to me and my sister, but I still have issues with him.
At this point in time, I'm supporting Edwards & Kucinich...and Obama.
Monday, July 23, 2007
While I do not think censuring Bush & Cheney goes nearly far enough, I do appreciate that my favorite Senator, Russ Feingold, is at least doing something about these criminals.
(I still wish he was running for President.)
From Progressive Patriots Fund:
Hold The Administration Accountable
Millions of Americans agree that the time has come to demand accountability from the President and his administration.
The two censure resolutions that Senator Feingold proposed will hold the President, Vice President, and the administration responsible for the destructive path down which they've taken our country.
The White House can no longer be allowed to shred the constitution, and thumb their nose at the American people.
Over the recent months and years, we've learned that this President, and his administration, have used mistruths, spin, lofty-rhetoric, hyped-up intelligence reports, and scare tactics to drag this country into a war that can only be described as the worst foreign policy mistake in our nation's history.
In addition, the administration, in an attempt to justify this mistake, has repeatedly distorted the situation on the ground in Iraq.
And the President continues to keep our country bogged down in Iraq – in a civil war that has no military solution and actually hurts America's ability to fight those who attacked us on September 11th, 2001.
What's equally dangerous is the blatant disregard President Bush has had for the rule of law on which our country was founded.
Future generations must understand that at a time in our nation's history when the very foundation of our government was threatened, Congress was not silent.
Regardless of whether you are for or against the impeachment of the President, Vice President, and other administration officials, Senator Feingold's censure resolution is a powerful way to hold this administration accountable.
Congress needs to stand up and condemn this administration for their actions.
Americans are demanding accountability and censure is a step in that direction.
It's time for the President and his administration to return to the law.
The focus of Senator Feingold's first censure resolution intends to condemn the President, Vice President, and the administration for getting the United States into the Iraq war under false pretenses. Possibly including:
The assertion that Iraq was linked to al-Qaeda;
The claim that Iraq harbored weapons of mass destruction that threatened the U.S.;
The knowingly false declaration in the 2003 State of the Union Address that Saddam Hussein tried to purchase yellow-cake uranium from Niger;
Insufficient war planning;
The failure to protect troops and preserve the military;
Fiscal mismanagement of the war.
The focus of Senator Feingold’s second censure resolution will likely focus on the Bush Administration’s relentless refusal to abide by the rule of law. Possibly including:
The implementation of the illegal, domestic wiretapping program and for misleading
The American people regarding the legality of the warrentless program;
The use of military commissions;
The politicization of the U.S. Attorney scandal;
The refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas
Senator Feingold is seeking input from folks in Wisconsin and across the country on what should be in these final resolutions. You can let him know that you're on board with his demand for accountability, and give him feedback, here: http://www.progressivepatriotsfund.com/input.html.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
"Sicko" in Top 5 Grossing Docs of All Time -- This Weekend it's "'Sicko' Night in America!"... from Michael Moore
So, friends, this is it. This is the weekend to go see "Sicko" if you haven't seen it. I get a lot of letters from people saying they plan to "get around" to seeing it "soon." Well, soon is here! Trying to get theaters to give us screens when we are up against huge summer blockbusters is an almost impossible task. "Sicko" won't be around forever. And if you're waiting for the DVD, ask anyone who's seen "Sicko" -- this is a movie you want to see with a crowd of people in a theater.
So let's pack the movie houses this weekend! Send an email to everyone you know, call your friends and tell them, "It's 'Sicko' Night in America!"
Canadians who are reading this -- you're probably thinking, "Hey, what about us? Where do we get to go?" Quit complaining! You're already there! But just to make it up to you -- and to prove we don't hold it against you for smugly walking out of a hospital with the same amount of money in your wallet that you went in with -- we'll let you participate in the drawing, too.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Here are my 5 recipients of the Power of Schmooze Award:
Everyone on my blogroll, and their blogrolls.
Yep, I'm wimping out on this meme. While I do appreciate being a recipient of the Schmooze award, I have decided to put an end to this meme madness.
I'm not tagging anyone! So there!
Monday, July 16, 2007
July 14, 2007
Want to know the extent of the loathing for the President and the current administration amongst the American people?
Last Saturday, at a fine Italian Restaurant in Milburn, New Jersey, I celebrated my birthday with my family. Amongst the varied small gifts I received from the kids and grand kids was a navy blue "T"shirt emblazoned across the front with big white letters:
"I never thought I'd miss Nixon"
a very appropriate and meaningful gift for the ever devout, pugnacious liberal from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn that I am and the kids know me to be.
I immediately donned the shirt over my existing one, right at the table, and wore it in the restaurant and as we walked towards the exit from the rear. As I walked, the diners in the very crowded restaurant saw the shirt and slogan and the reactions were amazing... ranging from outright applause to laughs and smiles, and then, believe it or not, several lovely female diners, of a certain age, strangers to me, jumped up from their table, grabbed me around the shoulders, and conducted an impromptu photo shoot!
If only our lilly livered Congressmen could have seen and felt those spontaneous reactions, maybe then they would wake up and impeach these sickening, malevolent, lawless, arrogant clowns in the White House who disgrace our country around the world, and destroy the very Constitution and liberties previous just wars were fought to protect.
East Hampton, NY
Friday, July 13, 2007
(Thanks for the heads up on this one, Brian.)
By Mark Morford for the SFGate.com
Bush Pardons Entire GOP
Prez "pre-emptively" saves all Repubs from becoming "prison bitches." Dems: "Can he do that?"
Allegedly reacting to some sort of hallucinogenic fever dream following an overlong bubble bath during which he reportedly sputtered lots of motorboat noises and ate one too many purple crayons, President Bush today made the stunning yet somehow entirely understandable announcement that all Republicans in his administration are hereby officially excused from any and all crimes they have committed, are in the process of committing, are planning to commit, or even merely fantasize about committing while encased in sweaty latex bodysuits in any one of a number of GOP-friendly D.C. fetish dungeons.
"People! My people!" Bush shouted suddenly during an otherwise completely useless press conference, raising his arms over his head and tilting his head back and convulsing slightly, just as a nameless reporter finished asking a question about... oh like it even matters because we all know the answer would've been complete bulls--- anyway so let's just say, immigration policy reform.
"Come to me, you shockingly large numbers of corrupt and disgraced Republican senators, representatives, aides, deputies, secretaries, lobbyists, governors and mayors and secretly gay meth-snorting right-wing Christian evangelists, and I shall remove from you the burden of legal, ethical, spiritual and yes even genital responsibility for all crimes you have almost certainly committed under the dark umbrella that is me! I am the walrus!"
Bush was apparently emboldened by his unprecedented and widely reviled commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence just recently, a move widely considered to be one of the more repellent abuses of power in a kaleidoscopic drunken funhouse of abuses lo these past 6.5 years, though he appeared to be staring up at the heavens as he spoke, just little bit astonished that lightning was not striking him dead on the spot.
"DeLay! Gonzales! Abramoff! Rumsfeld! Frist and Scalia and Ashcroft and Rove! Hastert and Duke Cunningham and Dusty Foggo! Ralph Reed! Mark Foley, Ted Haggard and Jeff Gannon! Abu Ghraib instigators! Guantanamo endorsers! WMD believers! FEMA! Plamegate! Terry Schaivo hypocrites! Torturers and influence peddlers and domestic wiretappers, Halliburton bribers and no-bid contractors and dark Carlyle Group overlords!
"Also: Sex education misinformers, global warming deniers, scientist muzzlers, Energy Task Force liars, Iraq Study Group deniers, 9/11 Report ignorers, Medicare scammers, Diebold voting machine swindlers! Bogus Jessica Lynch and Saddam statue and fake Thanksgiving turkey event stagers! And all the rest I can't remember because wow there are just so damn many! Come to me and be not someone's prison bitch despite how you really, really deserve it! I hereby pardon you aaaaaalllll!"
Curiously, the bizarre announcement came as no surprise to White House insiders. An anonymous source close to the president suggested that Bush secretly hoped that, if he made another big, vaguely unconstutional, degrading announcement that stabbed at the very heart of the republic, Dick Cheney might come up from behind again and give him another approving pat on the butt, much like a master gives a puppy. Cheney was unavailable for comment, as he was off shooting hundreds of flightless pheasants in the face with a shotgun from 2 feet away, and chuckling sinisterly.
Stunned reporters who attempted to ask Bush some immediate follow-up questions were quickly shouted down by the president. "Yay, me! The list of criminals in my administration is so long, I thought I'd just take care of it all in one file swipe," Bush shouted, apparently invoking yet another cute Bushism that might or might not refer, Freudian-slip style, to his love of either illegal wiretapping, Karl Rove's 'accidentally' deleted emails, or Lynne Cheney's secret stash of erotic lesbian digital photography.
"Whoops, I mean fell swoop! Yes! Wait a sec, what's a fell swoop? What funny words in my mouth! Say it over and over again, 'fell swoop fell swoop fell swoop fellswoop fellswoopfellswoop.' Haw! Loses all meaning."
White House spokesman and former Fox News automaton Tony Snow, himself rumored to be seeking regular psychiatric treatment to combat recurring nightmares in which his emaciated soul is being eaten by angry pink rabbits in a dank Wal-Mart sub-basement in Alabama, was quick to step in and deflect reporters' questions as Bush was carefully led offstage, frothing slightly at the mouth.
"Let me say right here and now: It is fully within the president's constitutional right to, uh, preemptively pardon all criminal Republicans who are all, of course, totally innocent and who have all been -- or, you know, will soon be -- wrongly accused by terrorist-loving liberals who hate our freedoms and have a very obvious gay agenda," he muttered, his eyes rolling around in his skull like marbles in Satan's pinball machine.
"Hey! Don't forget the crazy stuff Bill Clinton did almost 10 years ago! Oh my God! And what about Sept. 11th? Your children are in danger! Twin towers! Death from above! Support our troops! Gay agenda! Watch Fox News or the terrorists win! P.S.: Ann Coulter, please call me because you left a spiked bra and a switchblade and a gallon of ketamine at my apartment. Thank you. No more questions at this time."
Word of the Universal Republican Pardon (URP) quickly spread to the current Democratic congressional leadership, who were, naturally, slightly upset.
"This is a true outrage!" screamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, apparently frantically entering search terms into Wikipedia in her office iMac in an attempt to see what the hell was actually happening.
"He can't do that! Wait, can he? Can he do that? Isn't there some sort of, like, legal or constitutional mechanism in place to stop him from doing stuff like that?" Pelosi scanned the confused faces of the various congressional aides standing around her office, but got nothing back but lots of people staring at their feet. "Hello? Anyone? What the hell do I pay you people for?!"
Pelosi then sighed heavily and sipped some organic green tea. "You know what it makes me wish? It makes me wish there some sort of, say, large political body here in Washington, one that was right now controlled by, say, a completely different political party than this awful president," she said wistfully, as the aides glanced at each other furtively and rolled their eyes.
"Wouldn't that be great? And this group would have, say, some sort of legal and political oversight power to step in and stop this sort of thing, to formally rebuke the president and demand some sort of accountability and maybe even launch formal impeachment proceedings? Can you imagine?"
"I like to think it would be some sort of deeply flawed but absolutely essential system of, oh I don't know, checks and balances or something, and it would help ensure that this cretinous mealy mouthed little sonofabitch couldn't get away with stuff like this anymore.
"That would be so cool, wouldn't it? Man, I wish we had something like that here in America.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Our good friends, Brian & Bekkah came over last night to watch Jesus Camp. I knew what the documentary was about, but I wasn't prepared for how intense it would be. If you haven't seen it yet, please rent it. It's seriously fucked-up, man.
After the film, I did take comfort in knowing that with Bush's approval down to 26%, there must be some Evangelicals out there that realize they have been used.
And, after further research, I was thrilled to learn:
From: The Seattle Times:
Pastor will shut down controversial kids camp
Unfortunately, there are many, many more that are still going strong.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
July 10, 2007
The Honorable Senator Norm Coleman
2550 University Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55114
It's time for you to join me and a broad majority of our fellow Minnesotans in insisting that President Bush change course on Iraq and start bringing the troops home.
Since this war began, you have voted to support the President's policy of endless war and demonized those who stood up in opposition. Meanwhile, 3,600 of our men and women have died in Iraq, including 54 from Minnesota. Tens of thousands more American troops have been wounded.
The Defense Department reports that since the "surge" of troops into Iraq began, the level of sectarian violence has remained steady. American fatalities have increased. And there has been no progress in meeting political benchmarks that the Maliki government had promised long ago. The Bush administration has run out of ideas, and the people of Minnesota have run out of patience.
Most Americans understand that the President pays attention neither to the facts on the ground in Iraq nor to the will of the people here in America. Congress has offered, and passed, legislation that would force the President to change course. But the President has vetoed that legislation, a veto you voted to sustain. There simply aren't enough Democratic Senators to do this alone. Republican Senators have to do the right thing and force the President to end this war.
This should not be a partisan issue. I've been to Iraq four times to visit our men and women in uniform, and you and I both know that they serve with tremendous courage and skill. Republicans and Democrats alike should honor the sacrifice of our troops by refusing to allow this President to keep them in Iraq in the service of a misguided policy.
Several of your Republican colleagues have, in recent days, admitted that the President's current strategy is not working and called for a change of course. Unfortunately, you have not taken this step.
It's time to do what's right for the country. We shouldn't wait another day. You should be leading other Republicans in this effort; instead, you have chosen to remain a steadfast supporter of the Bush administration.
The Senate will have one more opportunity in the coming days to end this war. I urge you to change your position and support our troops by voting to bring them home.
Note from Lizzy:
Coleman's days are surely numbered. Good riddance.
Monday, July 09, 2007
1. I have OCD (surprise, surprise!) However, I am beginning to wonder if I've been misdiagnosed. I think my symptoms lean more toward GAD, but I do have Trichotillomania, so maybe the doctors are right. It's hard to tell.
2. I rotate everything. Sure, it makes sense to rotate food, so the old stuff gets eaten first, but I also do it with clothes, towels, dishes, silverware, glasses, paper products, etc.
A while back when I suspected Tom was pulling his underwear from the bottom instead of the top, I numbered them with a Sharpie to see if my suspicions were correct. I was right -- he wasn't going along with the rotating program. It's been a bone of contention ever since, because he keeps doing it. (Stop it, Tom!)
3. When changing the sheets, I have occasionally used a tape measure to make sure the top sheet was even on both sides.
4. I thought the town of Pensacola was called "Pepsi Cola" until I was 14 years old.
5. I was the last of my friends to learn how to tie my shoes, tell time, do long division, and ride a bike. Still to this day, I have a tendency to be a slow learner, but once I get it, I get it good.
6. While some people think I dress like a lesbian, in reality, I am very much a girly-girl. I love the color pink....and I have wanted my own tiara for years. On the flip-side, I have only painted my toenails twice.
7. I have been a vegetarian for 23 years.
8. Other than pasta and veggie burgers, I don't know how to cook. My Mom used to try to teach me, but I always said no. Bad decision on my part.
9. While I am an agnostic, I do worship the sun. (Oops, that was 9, oh well.)
So there are the facts on me. I copied & pasted the rules. I don't know why some letters are capitalized. Actually, it kind of bugs me.
All RIght, here are the RUles:
1. We HAVe to post these RUles beFORE we give you the facts.
2. PlAYers start with eight RANdom facts/HAbits about thEMSElves.
3. PEople who are tagGED need to write on their own blog about their eight things and post these RUles.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagGED and list their names.
Don’t forget to leave them a COmment telling them they’re tagGED, and to read your blog. (I might rebel and not do that part.)
Here are the winners (see links):
Larry of "Let's Talk" & "Let's Talk About It"
Al of "Wreckoning Force" (BTW, where have you been, Al?)
Candace of "Chapterhouse"
Pissed off Patricia of "Morning Martini"
1138 of "Liberty Lost"
PoliShifter of "Pissed On Politics"
JollyRoger of "Reconstitution 2.0"
Lew of "Unbrainwashed" (even though I'm still not on his blogroll...was it something I said?)
Friday, July 06, 2007
BlueCross Secret Memo Re: 'Sicko' ... "You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie..."
July 6th, 2007
An employee who works at Capital BlueCross has sent us a confidential memo written and circulated by its Vice President of Corporate Communications, Barclay Fitzpatrick. His job, it seems, was to go and watch "Sicko," observe the audience's reaction, and then suggest a plan of action for how to deal with the movie.
The memo, which I am releasing publicly in this email, is a fascinating look at how one health care company views "Sicko" -- and what it fears its larger impact will be on the public. The industry's only hope, the memo seems to indicate, is if the movie "flops."
Mr. Fitzpatrick writes: "In typical Moore fashion, Government and business leaders are behind a conspiracy to keep the little guy down and dominated while getting rich."
No. You don't say! That can't be!
BlueCross V.P. Fitzpatrick seems downright depressed about the movie he just saw. "You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie," he writes. "Sicko" leaves audiences feeling "ashamed to be...a capitalist, and part of a 'me' society instead of a 'we' society."
He walks out of the theater only to witness an unusual sight: people -- strangers -- mingling and talking to each other. "'I didn't know they (the insurers) did that!' was a common exclamation followed by a discussion of the example," according to Fitzpatrick.
He then assesses the film's impact: "[T]he impact on small business decision makers, our members, the community, and our employees could be significant. Ignoring its impact might be a successful strategy only if it flops, but that has not been the history of Moore's films ... If popular, the movie will have a negative impact on our image in this community."
The BlueCross memo then suggests a strategy in dealing with "Sicko" and offers the BCBS "talking points" to be used in discounting the film.
My heartfelt thanks to the employee who sent this to me.
And now a word from me to Capital BlueCross:
How 'bout a debate? No more secret memos and hand wringing about the millions seeing "Sicko." Just me and your CEO openly debating the merits of a system that kills thousands of innocent Americans every year.
In the meantime, I hope you don't mind me sharing your thoughts and impressions in your well-written memo. And if the rest of your executive team hasn't seen "Sicko," it opens in an additional 100 cities tonight for a total of over 700 screens across North America. Attendance went up a whopping 56% on the 4th of July, higher than any other film in the theaters right now. But don't be scared, and certainly don't be ashamed to be a capitalist. Greed is good! Especially good for you. There's nothing like having the pre-existing condition of being rich, should you ever get sick and need help.
P.S. Join me at noon EST, today, when I'll be chatting with U.S. Steelworkers, the California Nurses Association, and whoever stops by to talk about "Sicko" and the industry's attempt to stop this movement. Check my website for details.
[The following memo was written by Barclay Fitzpatrick, VP of Corporate Communications for Capital BlueCross]
I was able to see Sicko last night in Lancaster. There were about 30 other viewers in the theatre covering all age groups. I have attached the well-written memo from one of our partners, which describes cases used in the movie, to the end of my memo. Also attached are the latest talking points from BCBSA. I will focus on impact to our brands, issues, and suggested strategies in this memo.
You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie, he is an effective storyteller. In Sicko Moore presents a collage of injustices by selecting stories, no matter how exceptional to the norm, that present the health insurance industry as a set of organizations and people dedicated to denying claims in the name of profit. Denial for treatments that are considered "experimental" is a common story, along with denial for previous conditions, and denial for application errors or omissions. Individual employees from Humana and other insurers are interviewed who claim to have actively pursued claim denial as an institutionalized goal in the name of profit.
While Humana and Kaiser Permanente are demonized, the BlueCross and BlueShield brands appear, separately and together, visually and verbally, with such frequency that there should be no doubt that whatever visceral reaction his movie stirs will spill over onto the Blues brands in every market. Here are some examples:
* Horizon BlueCross/BlueShield is picked out early in the film in a collage of stories citing bad treatment of members.
* BCBSA is cited for rejecting a woman for coverage due to a high BMI - "too fat" is written across the screen over a copy of her application denial letter, which describes the BMI rejection.
* BlueShield of California denied coverage for a diagnostic test, which the patient later received overseas. Patient sues BS of CA and medical director admits to not 'seeing' the actual denial letter, which was given an electronic signature.
* BlueCross of California denied payment for a major surgery after they discovered a previous yeast infection, then dropped the person for coverage. This is followed by an interview with a person who claims to have been a specialist at finding inaccuracies in applications to enable post-treatment payment denials.
* A BCBSA card is shown while the narrator describes how they (insurers) got wealthy.
In typical Moore fashion, Government and business leaders are behind a conspiracy to keep the little guy down and dominated while getting rich. Nixon Oval Office tapes are used to show how the initial idea of a 'less care = profit' enterprise was supported by the administration and became the HMO paradigm. Legislators are presented as bought stooges for the political agendas of insurers and big Pharma. Insurers are middlemen in the Medicare Modernization Act - which is presented as a trick to charge seniors more for their prescription drugs.
Doctors are barely touched - only in the course of discussing the AMA's work to sink early efforts in the 40's and 50's to start universal health care. He takes efforts to show that doctors live well in other countries despite the existence of universal health care. In follow-up interviews, Moore has stated that he has spoken to and knows many doctors, and "doctors aren't the problem".
In the second half of the movie, Moore walks us through individual stories of the Canadian, British, French, and Cuban health care systems where everything is free and - he reminds us repeatedly - no one is ever denied service because they can't pay. In addition to health care, the government provides free day care, college, and someone to do your laundry. Everybody gets along and takes care of each other and life is beautiful because there is universal health care. As a viewer, you are made to feel ashamed to be an American, a capitalist, and part of a 'me' society instead of a 'we' society - and the lack of universal health care is held up in support of that condemnation.
Moore's movies are intentionally intense and his objective in Sicko seems to be to revive the earlier Clinton efforts - not to achieve universal coverage with this movie, but to push the topic to the top of the agenda. He will be just as successful whether proponents mount momentum or discussion entails key stakeholders defending why it won't work.
As a health care industry educated viewer it is easy to pick out where Moore is cultivating misperceptions to further a political agenda, but you will also recognize that 80%+ of the audience will have their perceptions substantially affected. In demonstration of its impact, an informal discussion group ensued outside the theatre after the movie. While some people recognized how one-sided the presentation was, most were incredulous and "I didn't know they (the insurers) did that!" was a common exclamation followed by a discussion of the example.
The unfortunate reality for Capital BlueCross is that as the market leader, we will be affected both in brand and as employees as Moore's efforts in the movie and surrounding PR activity are seen by more of the community. The impact on industry savvy Sales' contacts should be minimal, while the impact on small business decision makers, our members, the community, and our employees could be significant. Ignoring its impact might be a successful strategy only if it flops, but that has not been the history of Moore's films nor the way this one appears to be headed. If popular, the movie will have a negative impact on our image in this community.
There should be no doubt that many of our employees will be asked what they think of the movie by friends, family, and neighbors. We should anticipate that our customer service people will be asked about particular cases from the movie and if we follow similar policies. Word and phrases we have routinely used to date in policy change communications or denial letters, such as "Investigational", will be seen as affirming the film's contentions. The national BCBSA response - while coming out against the film's divisiveness and focusing on the positive work of the Blues - steers media inquiries about policies and denials back to the plans themselves.
There are 4 key areas of misperception cultivated by the movie that we should consider in any messaging strategy:
1. That the industry is all about HMO's. Moore cultivates this further in his interviews. The reality is that HMO's are a minority product and have been for some time.
2. The movie attacks insurers for a profit motive, but makes no distinction among for-profit and non-profit insurers, and in its execution places the Blue Plans together with the for-profit insurers.
3. All plans and employees - from leaders to service representatives - are painted as motivated by profit to deny claims, and only those with crisis of conscience have come forward to confess their sins.
4. Perhaps most damaging of all, Moore completely fails to address the most significant driver of health care costs - our own lifestyle choices - and seeks to focus attention and efforts on the alluring 'quick-fix' of universal health care. It has taken a generation of poor nutrition and exercise to get obesity and related health issues - and subsequent costs - to their current levels, and Moore's movie fails to acknowledge the causal relationship or need to change (he briefly touches the subject in a non-memorable way). Contrast this to the recent Health Care Symposium held in Harrisburg - where a panel of representatives from Government, Insurance, Hospitals, Business, Physicians, and even Lawyers agreed on one thing - that there was no quick fix and that Health and Wellness was the critical area of focus.
I believe the most successful strategy will not be in attacking the movie for its weaknesses or misperceptions, but in distancing ourselves and our brand from the groups and motivations he attacks, demonstrating the good that we do and achieve (aligns with BCBSA strategy), and in articulating our disappointment that he did not address the truly relevant issue of improving our health and wellness. We will convene a team to consider other approaches and work on potential messages for media inquiries, customer service, and employees.
Confidential Memo (from partner)
SiCKO - viewed on 6/26/2007
* The main theme of the movie is that American society needs to focus on the "we" and not the "me" in healthcare.
*This broad message is an overlay for the specific criticisms of the healthcare industry - the movie asks where the morality of the American public lies and contrasts America's approach to health care unfavorably with other nations.
* SiCKO does not go into any depth about how health insurers operate how the health insurance business works - instead it fixates on what it characterizes as the profit incentive to deny care to patients (e.g. examples of barriers to getting health insurance if you are not healthy; examples of people being denied expensive tests or procedures; examples of efforts to deny reimbursement after care has been received.)
* The film draws no distinction between not-for-profit and for-profit insurers - in fact the Blue Cross/Blue Shield brand is intermixed with the for - profit brands as background reference points. One scene shows a Blue Cross / Blue Shield logo as Michael Moore's voice over begins, "While the healthcare companies get wealthy..."
* The health insurers that get the most airtime are:
Blue Cross of California
* No Pharma companies are mentioned - but SiCKO suggests in multiple instances that prescription drugs are overpriced
At a pharmacy in London, prescription drugs are Â£6.65, no matter how large the doseo In Cuba, one bankrupt 9/11 worker's inhaler costs 5 cents, instead of $100
* Some of the examples of denial of care highlighted in the film:
o A woman with Kaiser Permanente takes her 18-month daughter to the hospital in an ambulance, only to be told to go to an in-network hospital. By the time they reach the second hospital, her daughter has stopped breathing and dies 30 minutes later in ER.
o A woman with Blue Shield of California has a tumor but is denied requests to get an MRI, or to see a specialist. While on vacation in Japan she is given an MRI, and eventually returns to the U.S. to demand treatment from her insurer.
* In the ensuing court case, a doctor admits to denying her request without having reviewed it.
o Blue Cross of California approves one woman's $7,500 treatment, but the approval is later denied for her failure to report a previous medical incident - a yeast infection.
* "They're just looking for a way out," she says
* Other examples of how health insurers avoid paying for treatment:
o One graph (from Humana) shows that doctors with the highest % of denials get a bonus.
o Michael Moore interviews a former health insurance employee who specialized in denying care to patients retroactively - by finding inconsistencies in their medical records.
o A 5-minute piece in the beginning of the movie .
* The film also focuses on the politicians and the funds they raise from Pharma and other player in the health care industry and alleges that the system has been heavily influenced by lobbyists and contributions.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield AssociationTalking Points in Response to Michael Moore's "Sicko"June 2007
1) The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and the 39 Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are committed to improving the U.S. healthcare system for our nearly 100 million members through continuous innovation that reflects the ever-changing healthcare landscape and the needs of the consumer.
2) The Blues recognize the need for improvement of both the coverage and delivery of healthcare. But the divisive tone set forth by Michael Moore and his movie "Sicko" is not helpful. Positive change to our healthcare system can be best achieved through shared responsibility, not recrimination. To ensure Americans have access to the best healthcare that is both timely, efficient, and of high quality, requires the collective contribution of all stakeholders -- consumers, providers, employers and the government.
3) The Blues participation in the Health Coverage Coalition for the Uninsured is a primary example of how the broader healthcare community is working together to reduce the number of uninsured in the United States.
4) The Blues are working on myriad initiatives that ensure Americans have access to quality and affordable healthcare. Each day, Blue Plans across the country are bringing healthcare value to their members in a number of ways such as new advances in health information technology and greater access to cost and quality information. In addition:
o The Blues recently created Blue Health Intelligence a data resource that will shine light on emerging medical trends and treatment options in an unprecedented way. To further the use of evidenced-based medicine, BCBSA has called upon Congress to establish an independent, payer-funded institute that will study the comparative effectiveness of new and existing medical treatments and procedures.
o Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are at the forefront of healthcare transparency by providing their members with online access to real-time information related to provider quality and the cost of common healthcare services. In addition, the Blues have committed to making personal health records available to their members by 2008.
o We are working to ensure that Medicare is funded appropriately and that seniors continue to have access to comprehensive benefits.
5) The Blues are proud of these efforts and we will continue to work with consumers, providers, employers and the government to provide Americans with the healthcare services and information they need to lead full, healthy lives.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
I don't want to give anything away, but France and Canada are looking better every day. When he was interviewing Americans living in France and Canada about the health care systems in those countries, all I could do was shake my head in disbelief...but it was true.
We have been told & sold a pack of lies when it comes to socialized medicine.
America must get universal health care. Along with the environment, it should be our top priority.
Michael Moore on Capitol Hill in support of H.R. 676 :
Monday, July 02, 2007
The only bright spots are Obama's second quarter fundraising record, and Keith Olbermann's special comment tomorrow on Countdown. He is going to ask Bush & Cheney to resign.