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'Sicko' is a must-see

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My wife Toni and I went to see ''Sicko'' recently. I recommend that everyone in the United States sees it. I learned more than I wanted to know about how our ''health care'' system is broken in the United States. And I learned that it was designed that way deliberately.

A young woman from Detroit had to move to Canada to get treatment for her cancer. She was only 22 years old, and her HMO told her she could not have cancer - she was too young. And they denied her treatment.

Michael Moore, who has made a number of controversial movies, topped himself with this one. His earlier films include ''Roger and Me'' and ''Fahrenheit 9/11.''

''Roger'' told about what happened to the city of Flint, Mich., when General Motors closed its plant there and moved it to Mexico. ''Fahrenheit'' is about the relationship between the Bush family and the family of Osama Bin Laden.

If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it. He visited Canada, Britain, France and Cuba. All these countries provide free health care to their citizens. People in these countries laughed when he asked them how much they had to pay for health care. All treatment and medication is free.

And the kicker is not in the movie. We pay 15 percent of the gross national product in the United States for health care, while France only pays 11 percent. I found that out a week before I saw the movie.

The United States and our politicians, who have been bought and paid for, are solidly against free or universal health care. Almost all members of Congress, including Hillary Clinton, have taken big money from the HMOs.

Hillary, remember, led the fight in 1993 to get universal health care approved. But when she lost that fight, and ran for Congress, she took money from the health care industry.

The biggest dog in the Congress is one of the members who fought the hardest against universal health care. He is now the head lobbyist for the health care industry, being paid $2 million a year to protect their profits. Michael showed him holding up his big $2 million check and smiling like he was the king of the world. He is, but he is stabbing poor people in the back and condemning them to death by taking his $2 million.

Who is opposed to universal health care, you ask? It is the health care industry - the huge drug companies, the doctors and their American Medical Association, the hospitals and the very big dog, the health maintenance organizations.

The HMOs are the ones who deny people health care on the slightest whim. If you had a yeast infection when you were 20, and they find out about it, they will deny you treatment for cancer 20 years later.

They have condemned thousands of people to death. The people they have condemned to death are not the people without health insurance. They are the people who have health insurance, but who get denied service.

Don't get sick. If you do, you have a good chance of dying without getting any treatment. Nixon started all this in 1971. Michael plays a tape of Nixon and Ehrlichman in the White House cooking up the scheme. Nixon resisted the suggestion at first. But when he heard his buddy Edgar Kaiser in California made big money on it, Nixon was all for it. He proposed the bill that allowed HMOs to become established.

The movie is full of tragedies. A young woman who was involved in a head-on collision in her car had her ambulance ride disapproved. The reason? She had not gotten approval of it in advance.

The worst tragedy was three workers on the 9/11 buildings who were denied treatment. One woman and two men, all three of whom volunteered to help try to save people trapped in the rubble, and to dig out the hundreds of dead bodies, got sick from the experience. The HMOs turned them all down for treatment.

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Michael took them to Cuba, supposedly illegally, and they got free treatment. One man had lung damage, the other man had ground his teeth so bad that he needed to have them restored, and the young woman had lung damage.

The young woman got an inhaler in Cuba for 5 cents. She could not believe the price. In the United States, she has to pay $120 twice a month to get the same treatment.

A lady from Denver who had cancer got treated for free as well. She and her husband had lost everything they owned, including their house, when he had heart attacks and she got cancer. They had to move into their daughter's basement. The doctors in Denver had her on nine medications; the doctors in Cuba took five of them away, and she got better.

The HMO executives have no heart. They are making between $22 million and $1 million a year in salary. These include Humana, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross and Cigna.

To rub salt in the wound, the current Bush administration has gotten legislation passed to let drug companies jack up their prices and make even more money.

This health care situation is going to affect more than half the Indian people in the United States. Why? Because more than 60 percent of us live in cities these days. How convenient is it for someone living in Albuquerque or Phoenix to run home to Rosebud to get treatment? I know it happens, but most Indian people are getting health treatment where they live.

And with Indian Health running 35 percent vacancies in the positions in their hospitals and clinics, there are not enough doctors, dentists, pharmacists and nurses to go around. It is not uncommon for Indian people to have to wait four hours or eight hours to be seen in a reservation hospital.

The places Michael visited, in contrast, wait on people immediately. Almost no one had to wait four hours. Most of them got seen within one hour.

One of the things the politicians and doctors hint at is that universal health care is communist. Nothing could be further from the truth. The doctors in the counties Michael visited were living in nice luxury houses, driving Audis and living well.

It is time we did something about the current situation in health care in this country. As a veteran, I hate to think about having to go to a VA hospital. But I may have to. My daddy died in a VA hospital. They misdiagnosed him for years with asthma, heart trouble, etc.

When they finally had a correct diagnosis, we learned that he had encysted tuberculosis. His body had formed cysts around the tubercles, but his body had to pay a price. His lungs lost much of their elasticity and he could not get enough air.

We need to take health care out of the hands of the moneygrubbers, the HMOs, and put it into the hands of people who will provide health care as it should be. Every member of Congress who takes big money from the drug companies and the HMOs needs to be voted out of office. Democrats, Republicans and Independents - they all need to go.

It is time for us to stop being tricked. One of the White House people the other day said that a recent selling of arms to Saudi Arabia would help to bring peace to the Middle East. I guess no one is going to shoot any of those rifles.

What a crock! They are telling us the same kind of fairy tales about health care. We need to stop believing them. And if you are not registered to vote, please do it. We can only bring about democracy by registering, voting, and throwing out the rascals who betray the people.

Dr. Dean Chavers is director of Catching the Dream, a national scholarship and school improvement organization located in Albuquerque, N.M. His latest book, ''Modern American Indian Leaders,'' was published by Mellen Press in June. E-mail him at