AMY GOODMAN: That’s Sicko. And today we’re joined by the director of Sicko, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. His latest film is called Capitalism: A Love Story, and he’s made many others. We spoke to him late yesterday and began by asking Michael for his reaction to the House vote on healthcare reform.
MICHAEL MOORE: I’ve been pretty vocal about this. This bill was never about universal healthcare. It, you know, did a couple of good things that could have been done anytime, I guess, like ending the pre-existing condition rule for children. It doesn’t end it for adults for four years, so you can rack up another, you know, probably 20,000 to 40,000 deaths in the meantime from people who otherwise would have received help had we truly gotten rid of the pre-existing condition thing for all citizens. But six months after the bill is signed by Obama, kids will be able to get coverage from a private, profit-making insurance company.
I mean, I don’t mean to sound cynical, because I understand the importance of this vote. Certainly, had the vote gone down to defeat and the Republicans had won, I would say that it would probably have been near impossible for President Obama to get anything through for the rest of this Congress. So that would not have been a good idea for that kind of paralysis to set in.
The larger picture here is that the private insurance companies are still the ones in charge. They’re still going to call the shots. And if anything, they’ve just been given another big handout by the government by guaranteeing customers. I mean, this is really kind of crazy when you think about it. Imagine Congress passing a law that required every person to buy—I mean, name any product—or watch my next movie. There’s a law that says now that you have to buy a DVD of every Michael Moore film. Woohoo! It’s like, hey, not a bad idea! I mean, I don’t know why—that’s what I’m saying. I don’t know why they’re so upset this week, because this bill is going to line their pockets to an even greater extent.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, Michael, on that issue of the mandatory—the mandatory provision, individual mandate, you’re forced to buy this product that many view as defective, that has been shown to be defective for many years. But also, on the issue of abortion, you’re forced to buy a product where it doesn’t cover a legal medical procedure. I mean, that’s a key issue here.
MICHAEL MOORE: Right, and not only that—I mean, I understand why President Obama had to issue his declaration, to get the right-to-life Democrats, led by my own personal congressman here in Michigan, Bart Stupak, why he had to get them on board, but, boy, that’s a sorry sight to see a president, such as Obama, from the Democratic Party, endorsing the Hyde Amendment, which, trust me, history will view as one of a number of discriminatory practices against women in our society.
So they—I mean, this is, of course, another whole issue, that, you know, we’re always so afraid, because we’re just—we always feel like we’re hanging on by a thread. You know, it’s a five-to-four Supreme Court decision right now. One more vote, and that could mean the end of legal abortion in this country. So I think that liberals, people on the left, sometimes are maybe a little bit too afraid of going too far, but frankly, if not us, who? If we don’t stand up against this, if we don’t say this is wrong, if we don’t speak out against it, you know, what’s—then who’s going to do it?
But in the long run, at least 15 million Americans are still not going to have health insurance. And as you said, those who have it are going to be forced to buy a defective product. And trust me on this one thing: the insurance companies, they’re not going to go quietly into the night on this, even though they lost. They’re going to find ways to trick up the system to get around it, to raise premiums.
It’s not going to be as easy as it sounds. “Oh, you’ve got a pre-existing condition. No problem.” Well, not exactly “no problem.” You know, the so-called controls that this bill puts on them are Mickey Mouse. For instance, if they deny you health insurance—let’s say Aetna won’t give you health insurance because you have a pre-existing condition, and you say to them, “Hey, wait a minute. That’s against the law.” And they’re going to go, “Whoa, yeah. Sue me.” Because you know what the fine is, the fine for them for denying somebody because they have a pre-existing condition? One hundred dollars a day. So if you’re Aetna, and you’ve got a patient who maybe needs, you know, a $100,000 operation, what would you do? Would you pay out the $100,000 operation because the law says you have to? Or do you break the law but just get a $100-a-day fine? Because, let’s see, after a year that would be $36,500 versus a $100,000 operation. Gee, I wonder which one Aetna’s going to go for. And of course, they could just hope against hope that within a year the person without the operation might be dead, so they won’t have to be worrying about shelling out any more money to a doctor or to a hospital.