The single-payer movement, which hasnt gained much traction for its plan to nationalize health coverage, has a new star in Michael Moore.
After lying low for more than a year while making his new movie, Sicko, Moore is suddenly everywhere, simultaneously pitching healthcare reform and his documentary. Last week, he teamed up with the California Nurses Association at a legislative briefing and a rally on the steps of Californias Capitol building in Sacramento. Later, the movie made its U.S. premiere there, attended by hundreds of nurses. It opens in theaters nationally June 29. The nurses union, famous for the bruising battle it waged against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005 about nurse-patient ratios, used Moores visit to push for single-payer plans in the state, a change opposed by the governor. However, Schwarzenegger has put forth a plan to cover most Californians through public and private means.
The governator might be proud of Moores blending of self-promotion and advocacy. The nurses donned red Sicko T-shirts, packed the hearing room and cheered as Moore bashed the health insurance industry, adding that companies that deny claims should be criminally prosecuted.
Id like to see executives of these companies in a perp walk in handcuffs, Moore told about a dozen lawmakers, all of them single-payer supporters, who turned out for the informational briefing. Moore later met with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and the previous week did an hourlong interview on Oprah Winfreys TV show.
(Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of Americas Health Insurance Plans, said in a written statement last week: The American people do not support a government takeover of the entire healthcare system because they know that means long waits for rationed care.)
We moved up from being irrelevant in the debate to being an undesirable alternative, says Quentin Young, national coordinator for the Physicians for a National Health Program, a single-payer advocacy group.