Online US Healthcare Reforms
Using this Guide This Guide is offered as a resource to help you prepare the electronic writing assignment and address the moral case for health care reform in the United States. It is designed to be a user-directed resource with no experts needed. In the REFLECTION section, participants will be led to consider their reactions to the film and to reflect upon the moral imperative for making health care available to everyone. It is NOT intended to stimulate discussion about or promote “the best plan.” The section which offers MORE INFORMATION is included to document and clarify some of the facts in the film. This information does not provide a comprehensive overview of the issue, but points to additional resources for participants who want to dig deeper. The ACTION section addresses the film’s assertion that for health care reform to happen in this country, we all need to accept responsibility for getting more involved in our democracy. Reflection Getting started – Respond to the Following: • • Think about a recent health care experience and briefly share what made it satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Briefly talk about what story in the movie was most moving and why. The moral question: SICKO contains lots of facts about the problems in U.S. health care. We’ve know these facts for years, but they have not moved us closer toward reform. Why not? We have not been able to enact comprehensive health care reform because as a nation we have not yet agreed that we should guarantee health care for everyone. We have not yet answered the moral question “Am I my brother’s/sister’s keeper?” with a resounding YES! Until we agree that our goal is health care for all, we will continue to divide ourselves over the questions about whether the government or business should be in charge, and whether our priority should be to reduce costs or make health care available for everyone. And we will continue to allow wealthy special interests to influence the votes or our lawmakers. Here are few of the comments for those being interviewed from other countries: • • • From Canada: The least of us and the best of us are taken care of equally. From France: You pay according to your means and receive according to your needs. From Great Britain: If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to heal people. And from Michael Moore: • • (In Cuba) If one enemy can offer a hand to another with the offer to heal, what else is possible? We live in a world of me, not we… For discussion – Respond to the Following: • • • • What other statements do you remember about moral or shared responsibility in the film? What did you see in the film that connects with the teachings of your faith tradition in regards to caring for one another? Was there anything in the film that differs with your religious beliefs? The power of this film was in the telling of stories. Our faith traditions are filled with stories. Our lives are filled with stories, as well. In which of the stories do you see a connection between the crisis in U.S. health care, your faith experience, and your own story? What people of faith are saying: “Our commitment to health care stems from two central ideas. The first is Judaism’s teaching that an individual human life is of infinite value and that the preservation of life supersedes almost all other considerations… The second is the belief that God has endowed us with the understanding and ability to become partners with God in making a better world. The use of that wisdom to cure illnesses has been a central theme in Jewish thought and history.” RELIGIOUS ACTION CENTER OF REFORM JUDAISM “We also bring to the question of health care reform a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, rooted in the proclamations of the Hebrew prophets, in the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth, and in the teaching of our Church. It is God’s own poor who suffer most acutely from the faults and failings of the health care system. It is their pain and suffering, their poor health and sickness, that sharpens our resolve to participate in the call for genuine reform.” U.S. CATHOLIC BISHOPS The health of a society is truly measured by the quality of its concern and care for the health of its members… The right of every individual to adequate health care flows from the sanctity of human life and that dignity belongs to all human beings… IMAM SA’DULLAH KHAN THE ISLAMIC CENTER OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA From the earliest passages of the Bible (Genesis 15:26) Christians recognize that it is ultimately God who heals, and in the New Testament Jesus’ healing ministry is intended to demonstrate the presence of God. Claiming the promise of God, the United Methodist Social Principles (¶162, T) therefore recognize that “health care is a basic right” rather than a commodity available only to those with means, and recognizes “the role of governments in ensuring that each individual has access to those elements necessary to good health.” GENERAL BOARD OF CHURCH AND SOCIETY, UNITED METHODIST CHURCH “The Buddha taught there are four requisites for harmonious life: food, shelter, clothing, and medicine or health care. The state of the health care system in the United States is an affront to Buddhist principles of compassion and loving kindness.” BUDDHIST PEACE FELLOWSHIP “We believe that health care is a basic right and not a privilege… the gospels convey a message from God — a very powerful message that is the Church’s marching order to meet the issue of affordable, accessible health care for all… be it resolved that … local churches, conferences, associations, instrumentalities, organizations, and health and welfare institutions associated with the UCC join in education and advocacy activities to advance legislation that support universal health care” BOARD OF HOMELAND MINISTRIES, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST “One of the central public policy questions for U.S. citizens today is whether the richest nation on earth will continue to allow millions of poor people to exist without health insurance. To do so violates biblical justice… How can any Christian read what the Bible says about the poor and what Jesus says about the sick without hearing a divine call to demand that every person in this nation, starting with the poor, have access to health insurance?” FROM JUST GENEROSITY BY RONALD SIDER FOUNDER OF EVANGELICALS FOR SOCIAL ACTION More information One purpose of the film SICKO is to get some of the facts out to the American people about the things that are wrong with U.S. health care. Michael Moore points out that wealthy stakeholders make huge investments to maintain a status quo which supports excessive industry profits instead of meeting our health care needs. Because of those special interests, sometimes we are left with information that simply is not true. The information here documents some of the facts in SICKO – facts that are intended to help correct the misunderstandings about U.S. health care and what it will mean to reform it. Understanding the words Affordable health care for everyone is referenced in a variety of ways in the film, depending on the country being highlighted, or the perspective of the person speaking. In the U.S. the terms often are used interchangeably and incorrectly. Here are the different kinds of insurance referenced in the film. • Universal Health Care – very simply… a health system designed to guarantee that everyone has access to quality health care which is comprehensive and affordable (all industrialized democracies except the U.S.) • National Health Insurance – insurance coverage provided by a nation that guarantees health care for all of its citizens, regardless of whether the health care is provided by government-employed health professionals (England) or private practitioners (France, Canada) • Socialized Medicine (National Health Service) – a health system in which health care providers are government employees, health care facilities are run by the government and the government pays for health care services (England) Note: A Single Payer health system is not an insurance system. It is a financing mechanism for health care delivery in which a single fund reimburses the providers of health services. (Canada) For discussion – Respond to the Following: 1. What information about health care in other countries surprised you in the film? 2. The film shows that different countries have found a variety of ways to make health care available to everyone. How can that inform our opportunities to improve the U.S. health system? 3. What further information would you and your group like to have about how other countries figured out how to do this? Facts in the Film: D D D D D D In spite of per capita costs that far exceed those of any other industrialized democracy, the U.S. is ranked 37th in the world in overall health outcomes. [Sources: World Health Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] Prescription drug prices are higher in the U.S. than in other countries. In addition to the examples cited in the film, research shows that for some drugs we pay more than twice as our friends in 7 other wealthy nations (England, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Sweden, France, Italy). [Source: Boston University School of Public Health, Oct. 2004] In 2004 medical bills contributed to 54% of bankruptcies in the U.S. Most of these people were insured when illness struck. The rest of the bankruptcies were caused by job loss, divorce, death, gambling, and addictions. [Source: Journal of Health Affairs, February 2005] In 2001, the pharmaceutical industry had a return on revenue of 18.5%, nine times higher than all Fortune 500 industries. [Source: Public Citizen Congress Watch, America’s Other Drug Problem] In the Medicare prescription drug legislation that was passed in 2003, onethird of the $400+ billion that was approved included new profits for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. When that legislation was being considered, there were 637 pharmaceutical industry lobbyists influencing the content of the bill. [Source: Center for Responsive Politics] Health insurers consider any paid claim to be a “medical loss” [Linda Peeno] and the list of reasons for rejecting coverage is growing. Health insurers say they can justify this. However, health insurers’ annual profits and margins doubled over a four year period, giving them earnings that have outpaced the rest of corporate America. [Investors’ Business Daily, Oct. 18, 2004] For discussion – Respond to the Following: 1. Which facts contradict what you have heard and/or believed about U.S. health care and the potential to reform it? 2. Upon hearing these facts, what new insights do you have about health reform? 3. What still confuses you about U.S. health care? What additional information do you need? Learn more: • • • • • • • • Commonwealth Fund Faithful Reform in Health Care Families USA Kaiser Family Foundation National Coalition on Health Care New America Foundation Health Program Our Health Care Future Universal Health Care Action Network Action! SICKO emphasizes that change is possible when the people fully participate in the democratic process. Michael Moore challenges viewers to use their power to meet the needs of the community.