Friday, July 13, 2007

BlueCross: "You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie..." :From Michael Moore's website:

An employee who works at Capital BlueCross has sent us a confidential memo written and circulated by its Vice President of Corporate Communications, Barclay Fitzpatrick. His job, it seems, was to go and watch 'Sicko,' observe the audience's reaction, and then suggest a plan of action for how to deal with the movie.

The memo, which I am releasing publicly in this email, is a fascinating look at how one health care company views 'Sicko' -- and what it fears its larger impact will be on the public. The industry's only hope, the memo seems to indicate, is if the movie 'flops.'

Mr. Fitzpatrick writes: 'In typical Moore fashion, Government and business leaders are behind a conspiracy to keep the little guy down and dominated while getting rich.'

No. You don't say! That can't be!

BlueCross V.P. Fitzpatrick seems downright depressed about the movie he just saw. 'You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie,' he writes. 'Sicko' leaves audiences feeling 'ashamed to be...a capitalist, and part of a 'me' society instead of a 'we' society.'

He walks out of the theater only to witness an unusual sight: people -- strangers -- mingling and talking to each other. "'I didn't know they (the insurers) did that!' was a common exclamation followed by a discussion of the example," according to Fitzpatrick.

He then assesses the film's impact: "[T]he impact on small business decision makers, our members, the community, and our employees could be significant. Ignoring its impact might be a successful strategy only if it flops, but that has not been the history of Moore's films ... If popular, the movie will have a negative impact on our image in this community."

The BlueCross memo then suggests a strategy in dealing with "Sicko" and offers the BCBS "talking points" to be used in discounting the film.

As regular readers will know, I'm a huge fan of SiCKO (recognizing it as what it is and is (mostly) meant to be, and not mistaking it for a dispassionate documentary mired in detail and obligatory, "on the other hands...").

Those threatened by the movie's central truths are well into their counterattacks, and Moore is pushing back. It can be tricky when Moore is put into the position of a "talking head" expert suitable for the NewsHour, which IMHO does not suit his particular gifts (indeed, genius). But when the opposition mounts its own polemics and irrelevancies (since they have very little large substantive truth to fall back on--our existing system is both terminally ill and grossly immoral), so that Moore can mount a counter-offensive, he can be quite effective. This is one example; there will be more.

The insurance executive's letter is, needless to say, worth reading in full on Moore's website.


Anonymous said...

In the course of human life please rank the following in order of importance for sustaining that life. Food, clothing, shelter, health care. I'm certain healthcare would be the least important. My question then is why does the government not supply all residents with food, clothing and shelter before figuring out how to supply healthcare. I certainly hope you are beginning to see the complete falacy of the universal healthcare arguement. Do you really want the same people who run the post office and the military to run your healthcare system. Get real.

Alan Jay Weisbard said...

Why is it that anonymous comments are typically the most simplistic?
How about educating our young, protecting our security at home (police) and abroad (military), providing income security for the elderly (social security), regulating the quality of our food supply and drugs, providing public transportation, etc., etc. Some are done well, some less well, although screw-ups are inevitable in any human enterprise of that scale. (And it helps to have folks in charge who believe in what they are doing, and are not ideologically committed to destroying the efficacy of the entities they run).
Some areas are suitable for public provision, control, or regulation; others work fine, sometimes better (rarely perfectly) in private hands.
With regard to plans for universal health care (whether or not predicated on an insurance model), there are many options possible on how the actual provision of care is structured, many consistent with private/independent forms of management. One can usefully compare the VA with Medicare as very different models, even without looking at the wide variety of arrangements in other countries, virtually all of which (in the advanced world) assure universal access.
In sum, I prefer careful empirical analysis of specific contexts to sweeping ideological pronouncements. And if you haven't yet figured this out, I think your argument is,uh, let's say, very unpersuasive.