“Roger and Me,” Michael Moore’s documentary about General Motors' betrayal of auto workers in his home town of Flint, Mich., will resonate today just as it did when it debuted in 1989 - perhaps more so. The film put Moore on the map as a filmmaker and a passionate advocate for America’s working class.
His follow-up films on the Columbine shootings, the Bush administration’s overheated rhetoric in the run-up to the Iraq War, and a scathing look at America’s healthcare system cemented his reputation as an acerbic social commentator.
Nobody disputes that America’s healthcare system is broken. We spend more money for poorer outcomes than any other nation in the developed world.
The way to fix the system is to agree healthcare is a human right and not a privilege only for those who can afford it. From there, a single payer system will assure every American has access to healthcare.
But the special interest headwinds blow too hard for such a radical reformation right now. So the Affordable Care Act, however imperfect, is as close as the next best thing Obama could get in 2010.
If it’s successful, and the early indicators are that millions of uninsured Americans are gravitating toward the program, Obamacare could well be the springboard to a single payer system.
But wheels in Washington turn slowly, evidently too slowly for Michael Moore who lashed out at Obamacare in a New York Times op-ed last week calling the law “awful.”
“The Affordable Care Act is a pro-insurance-industry plan implemented by a president who knew in his heart that a single-payer, Medicare-for-all model was the true way to go,” wrote Moore.
The president has made no secret that single-payer is what he really wants and Moore is wrong about the “pro-insurance-industry” part.
The Department of Health and Human Services recently reviewed premiums in 11 states. It found rates for small businesses in those states are on average 18 percent lower than health insurance premiums employers paid before Obamacare.
After notifying me in September my Georgia-based small business’s rates would jump 13 percent in 2014, our health insurer told us in December premiums won’t increase after all.
“For many people, the ‘affordable’ part of the Affordable Care Act risks being a cruel joke,” said Moore. “The cheapest plan available to a 60-year-old couple making $65,000 a year in Hartford, Conn., will cost $11,800 in annual premiums. And their deductible will be $12,600. If both become seriously ill, they might have to pay almost $25,000 in a single year.”
Moore doesn’t mention that 100 percent of the couple’s preventative care is covered.
Under Obamacare the wife can get a breast cancer screening at no cost. If early stage cancer is detected she can expect a better outcome at a lower cost. If she has no insurance and waits, her condition is generally much worse and far more expensive to treat.
And what if the wife has a lump in her breast? Before Obamacare, no insurer would accept her. After Obamacare, no insurer can refuse her.
He also ignores the cost of catastrophic illness or accident. Suppose the husband is struck by a car and requires $300,000 in surgical services and another $100,000 in rehabilitation costs? That $12,600 co-pay Moore complains about suddenly looks pretty reasonable. And the insurer can no longer cap coverage should the husband’s condition worsen.
Moore finally admits, “...Obamacare is a godsend. My friend(‘s) health problems bankrupted her ... (she) now has cancer again. As she undergoes treatment, at least she won’t be in terror of losing coverage and becoming uninsurable. Under Obamacare, her premium has been cut in half, to $456 per month.”
But “Obamacare is awful,” according to Moore.
Moore’s op-ed appears to be little more than a publicity stunt, a way for the aging director to portray himself as a serious critic while keeping his name and face in front of the media.
Sure enough, Moore got what he wanted. Fox News took note of his comments and played them across its conservative programming to further attack Obamacare. Breitbart, Newsbusters and other right wing blogs piled on.
Thanks for nothing, Moore.