Friday, March 14, 2014

Your Sickness is Someone's Payday

got healthcare? is the title of my documentary film, which chronicles the media ignored national street debates in 2009 over the creation of what we now know as Obamacare.  I recently screened the film for a healthcare reform activist group and got some valuable feedback. Most notably, some found the film confusing. They couldn't tell for certain if one person interviewed was a progressive reformist or a conservative in favor of the status quo. They wanted me to label the people interviewed as one or the other. My response was that I didn't know for certain who was who. Do people walk around with labels on them that say "conservative" or "liberal"?

There were people on both sides, for example, that did not like the government's handling of healthcare reform. There are gray areas. You cannot draw a clean line with people taking one side or the other. Even if they stand on one side they have ideas that cross the line. And there are more than just two sides. There are as many sides as there are people.

The media would have you think that proponents of Obamacare are liberals or progressives, and that opponents are conservatives or Republicans. In fact most liberals and progressives disfavor Obamacare as much as conservatives, and sometimes for the same reasons. Are people always strictly liberal or conservative? We are conditioned to think in terms of right or wrong,  one team against another, or liberals against conservatives. It is a paradigm of competition. But not everything is in competition. There are gray areas. There are gentile endeavors where there are no winners or losers. There are only humans who live life, or try to.

Health care is the maintenance and sustainability of human life. It is not a game. It is not a competition. It should not be a business where human life is in play for profits. There are gray areas. You may live in pain. You may live with the best care money can buy. You may have the most expensive insurance money can buy, and be denied care. Money cannot buy life. Health insurance is a business. It is a matter of money, except in civilized countries where life takes priority over money and everyone is guaranteed health care by their government. That is what single payers does. This is what America does not have.

There are those who don't understand Obamacare. Who does? In reality, Obamacare was designed to be confusing and to create chaos.  It was effectively written by the insurance industry (primarily Liz Fowler, a former Wellpoint Insurance executive who became an aide to Senator Max Baucus). It guarantees insurance companies more subscribers. It guarantees no one health care. Insurance is not health care. Insurance is premiums and co-pays (as Maureen Cruise, our executive producer and effective narrator says). It continues to evolve with more and more regulations added to it all the time. It is a massive piece of legislation and regulation that can't possibly be fathomed by anyone. The alarming stats in 2009 concerning the pain, suffering, and death in America over lack of healthcare have increased, not decreased. If the state of healthcare insurance in America is chaotic and confusing, how could it be possible to make a film about it that is not confusing? The film defines the confusing elements, such as lack of care, denial of care, pain, suffering and death at rates that rank America 37th in world healthcare performance (and much worse now).  But the film does offer a simple, clear and understandable solution: Single Payer (Medicare for All). That is all you can know for certain about healthcare reform, and the fact that our government will not consider it.

The other thing about my film is that it is unconventional in not taking the audience by the hand and down the garden path to understanding, as most documentaries appear to do. We are used to telling our kids about Santa Claus and other fantasies about how wonderful life is. We expect Hollywood endings in films. We don't want to hear that there are no viable answers under consideration. We don't want to hear that our government is made up of narcissistic greedy individuals that care only about themselves. In the real world, we don't really know all the answers, and there are few Hollywood endings. In the real world we don't live in a democracy. We live in a corporatocracy, a corporate welfare state, where government answers only to Wall Street.

Documentary filmmakers make profound statements concerning how things are, when in fact, their sources may not be as credible as they appear.  Historically, even the greatest minds and scholars have been incredibly wrong. At one time the greatest minds believed the world to be flat. How is it that a documentary filmmaker can choose unreproachable sources? Everyone is reproachable. Everything is questionable. Statistics change with time. So how is it that by the end of a documentary you would have a clear understanding of the subject at hand? More likely you would have clearly defined questions. Great scholars are students, not authorities. There is no final human authority. A documentary is one view and that view may be somewhat abstract.

I am considering adding a disclaimer at the start of the film:
The film you are about to see may leave you confused, because it is about American health care. 
There is nothing more confusing and chaotic than American health care. But there is a clearly defined resolution known as single payer. With single payer the government is the insurance provider for all people in America, just as it protects people from fire with fireman and from crime with policemen. Just as you have a drivers license or a credit card, you would have a healthcare card to pay any and all heath care bills.  Until that happens, expect confusion and chaos in all things health care and sick care related. Your sickness is someone's payday.

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