Something’s wrong when the only thought a man has as he falls off a roof is that he hopes he dies. His thought? The medical bills will be just too much for himself and his family.
That story is not uncommon in the United States and it’s those tales that have galvanized advocates, organizers, students and physicians to demand a new health care system that doesn’t strike fear in the bodies of the users
Filmmakers Laurie Simons and Terry Sterrenberg tell the story of this movement in their second health care documentary Now Is The Time, the subject of this month’s Salem Progressive Film Series.
The film’s showing comes at a time when the Trump administration’s threatened repeal of the Affordable Care Act has just about everyone talking about health care and wondering, if not the ACA than what?
Both Simons and Sterrenberg, former Salem residents who now live on Staten Island, and others say the system is clearly broken. More than 28 million Americans have no health insurance and people pay twice as much for care than in any other industrialized nation.
The solution they and others are promoting is a Medicare for all, single payer health plan, a government-funded plan that would not exclude anyone.
The pair will be on hand to talk and answer questions following the film. Other speakers include Lee Mercer of Silverton, president of Health Care For All Oregon, and Dr. Mike Huntington, a retired physician and current organizer with Physicians for a National Health Program.
At nearly every film showing, people are telling Simons and her husband that the time is ripe to push for a single payer system similar to Canada’s.
In Canada, Simons said she never had to worry about whether she could afford the health care she needed, and she never had to deal with insurance companies.
Now Is the Time fleshes out single payer plus the decades of propaganda and public relations campaign that have gone into turning public sentiment against it.
The film also shows how single payer was overlooked in the ACA hearings in Washington.
“This movie is not against the ACA but it shows that the ACA just isn’t doing what it’s reportedly supposed to be doing,” Sterrenberg said.
Many who are insured are getting socked with rising costs, plus some need to pay full costs if they go out of their networks. Insurance companies and HMOs are still profiting the most, the film notes.
Now Is The Time asks why Congress has not yet considered or passed a universal health care plan, when an ever-increasing percentage of Americans want it. Some answers are suggested, including well-funded health care lobbyists and health care officials who serve on key committees.
Plenty of advocates are fighting for changes and leading a grassroots movement.
The film highlights Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Detroit who annually introduces a bill for national health care, and also follows student advocates and physicians-turned-activists who now fight for a new system.
One is Dr. Huntington of Corvallis who regularly saw patients in advanced stages of illnesses who had not come in earlier for fear of the costs. He also became incensed at how insurance companies tacked on 20 percent administrative costs to bills.
At the film’s showing Huntington wants to offer people hope that things can get better and that “we can reverse what is a disaster and embarrassment nationally in our health care system.”
Some states, including Oregon, are considering state versions of single payer plans. The movie describes efforts in Vermont and Colorado, too.
Mercer, of Health Care For All Oregon, will be on hand to talk about what’s happening in this state, including an upcoming hearing on a Rand Corporation study on costs of a universal health care system.
Meanwhile, Huntington said a bill to advance single payer in Oregon may be introduced in 2020. For now, the state is funding an expanded Medicaid program to keep low-income residents insured.
Momentum is building, and more people are motivated to learn what single payer is all about, said Mercer, Huntington and others in the movie.
Two of the goals of the Salem Progressive Film Series are to inform and inspire people to take action.
The Salem showing of Now Is The Time is near the start of a West Coast tour that consists of of 20 screenings in, Washington and Oregon. For more details go to nowsthetimemovie.com.
For information on the Salem Progressive Film Series go to salemprogressivefilms.net.
Now Is The Time Salem Progressive Film Series
Guest speakers & audience discussion follow,
Tuesday, Feb 21, 7 p.m.
The Grand Theater
191 High St. NE, Salem