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Michael Moore's Newest Film Takes On Health Care In U.S.

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“Sicko,” Michael Moore’s biting new take on the U.S. health care system, is set for nationwide release June 29 but has already gotten mostly favorable early reviews at the Cannes Film Festival.

Moore, whose harangue against the Bush administration, “Farhenheit 9/11,” won the top prize at Cannes in 2004, insists his movie will not go after health care companies or other big businesses, according to interviews last week with reporters. Among its main points is that government-backed health care in France, Canada and even Cuba is superior to the American system, he says.

Early reviews included one from Fox News that found the film “brilliant and uplifting.”

“Unlike many of his previous films, ‘Sicko’ works because in this one there are no confrontations,” said the reviewer, Roger Friedman. “Moore smartly lets very articulate average Americans tell their personal horror stories at the hands of insurance companies.”

Parts of the movie “will have many moviegoers angry enough to gouge holes in their armrests,” commented another reviewer, Jeffrey Kluger of Time.

But an online critic said he wished the movie had “more clarity and less hilarity.”

“I think that a large mass of the American public is so desperate for someone to speak truth to power that they’ll settle for someone willing to say anything to it, no matter how specious or muddled,” said the critic, James Rocchi of Cinematical.

Observers in the health care industry were at ease with Moore’s attention to their business, despite his history of caustic documentaries.

Based on early press coverage of “Sicko,” “it appears that Michael Moore has made a film about the need to address the number 1 domestic policy issue in the U.S., which is how to get everyone covered by health care,” says Karen Ignani, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurace Plans, Washington. “We agree with that.”

AHIP late last year issued a number of proposals under which state and federal governments could provide uninsured Americans with access to affordable health insurance, she points out.

“We are looking forward to a discussion of that, and if this movie shines a spotlight on the issue, it’s a good thing,” Ignani says.

Joe F. Rolando, an agent with Price Insurance Agency, Sandy, Utah, thinks Moore’s film needs a fair hearing.

“There’s a lack of cohesiveness on the issue of health care coverage,” he says. “The issues are clouded by rhetoric. We don’t need to fight on the question; we need to get together. And we have to do it sooner than later, because health insurance is critical.”