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CNN Larry King Live

Michael Moore & "Sicko"

Aired June 29, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Michael Moore and "Sicko" -- a new film, a new firestorm. He says America's health care industry gets away with murder --



KING: And that the cure for the system can be found in other countries, like Cuba.

Some call him a muckraking hero looking out for the little guy. Others say he's an unpatriotic conman who plays fast and loose with the facts.

What do you think?

Michael Moore for the hour, answering your calls and e-mails next on LARRY KING LIVE.

He's been with us a few times, but never on this set.

We've never been together on the LARRY KING LIVE CNN set.

MOORE: That's correct.

That's right.

KING: He's a guest here with us.

And by the way, we have interesting news, I'm told by the folks who know, that the movie has gone through the roof today.

MOORE: Yes. We just got the word that it -- it's a big home run everywhere across the country.

KING: Is that what you expected?

MOORE: Well, I hoped that people would go to see it. But it's a documentary. It's the summertime so, you know, you never -- and so, you know, what do you say to your wife? Hey, honey, let's go to that health care documentary tonight?

(LAUGHTER) KING: So, but movie people know by Friday at 5:00 p.m. If it's a big hit?

MOORE: Yes. And by 7:00 p.m. They know, I mean, in many of the multiplexes, they just told me it's the number one or number two grossing film tonight in all these theaters across the country.

KING: A lot of things to talk about.

But do you have any thought on that bomb scare in London today?

MOORE: Well, it's, you know, it's a problem that we're going to continue to have. We're going to have it for some time and I hope that we have some forward thinking leadership that can help us find a way to deal with this problem other than the ways that we've been dealing with it.

KING: Have you always been controversial?

MOORE: No. You know, it's an odd term. I've never understood why --

KING: You upset people.

MOORE: I know.

What have I done?

I've, you know, I've made -- I've made three or four documentaries. The first one, I was upset that 30,000 people had been laid off from my hometown, so I thought I'd stand up for them and make a film about them.

Then I made a film called "Bowling For Columbine" because I thought we shouldn't have any more school shootings. And then I made "Fahrenheit 9/11" because I took a wild guess that maybe we were going to war for the wrong reasons, and it wasn't a good idea.

Those are my crimes, Larry. And before that, when you say have I always been this way? I mean I -- as a kid I was an Eagle Scout, am an Eagle Scout. I went to the seminary to be a Catholic priest. I, you know, lived the all American boy life.

KING: You're a patriotic American?

MOORE: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And I come from a family of it. My dad was in the Marines. He was in the South Pacific, World War II. And I've always loved this country and have always felt that one of the best things you can do as a patriotic American is to -- is to not be afraid to ask questions and to demand answers of those in power.

KING: Let's see a clip from what is obviously going to be a roaring success, "Sicko."


MOORE: This is Rick.

RICK: I was ripping a piece of word and I grabbed it right here and it hit a knot.

MOORE: He sawed off the tops of his two fingers.

RICK: And it just zipped and it was that quick.

MOORE: His first thought?

RICK: I don't have insurance. How much is this going to cost?

MOORE: The hospital gave him a choice -- reattach the middle finger for $60,000 or do the ring finger for $12,000. Being a hopeless romantic, Rick chose the ring finger for the bargain price of 12 grand.


KING: What are you saying in "Sicko?"

MOORE: I'm saying that we have a broken health care system and --

KING: Was it ever fixed to be broken?

MOORE: Well, I think -- I remember as a child -- and I'm sure you remember -- many years ago people didn't have to worry if they got sick. They were able to go to the doctor. They could afford it.

Do you remember in your time anybody actually going bankrupt because of medical bills?

MOORE: I remember house calls.

MOORE: House calls, yes.

Well, now they take your house away. It's the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States now, medical bills. And it's the number one cause of homelessness.

How did we get that way?

Because it wasn't that way. And pharmaceutical companies and people that used to invent medicines -- I mean Jonas Salk, back in the '50s, invented the polio vaccine. They said to him, aren't you going to patent that, you know, you could make a lot of money?

He said no, I'm not going to patent it. That would -- that would be immoral. This belongs to the people.

The guy who invented the kidney dialysis machine, he wouldn't patent it. He said this belongs to the people. I'm giving this to society.

And that's the way people used to think.

KING: Have --

MOORE: And that's not the way it is now with our pharmaceutical companies.

KING: I believe Harry Truman proposed national health insurance in 1948.

MOORE: Yes. That's right. He did.

KING: How -- are we one of the few countries in the world that doesn't -- doesn't have it?

MOORE: We are the only industrialized country. Of the top 25 industrialized countries, we're the only one that doesn't have universal health care.

KING: Now we know that when you set out do a documentary, you have a point of view.


KING: So we did not hear the other side --


KING: -- in this movie.

MOORE: That's correct.

KING: I saw this movie. Of course, all of your movies terrifically done. But I didn't hear what the HMOs had to say.

MOORE: That's because I think they do such a good job of getting their word out all the time. They spend billions of dollars on P.R. they and the pharmaceutical companies. I mean the nightly news, on the broadcast networks, I mean every other ad is a pharmaceutical ad. So --

KING: Does that mean they own the network or --

MOORE: Well, they -- they are able to tell their story through either advertising or they have spokespeople that go on show or they, you know, they have their ways of doing it. And I think their story is -- is well told.

And I --

KING: Is --

MOORE: My feeling is, is that for two hours, I'm going to come along and say here's maybe another way to look at it. Here's maybe a story that isn't told. And so that's -- and that's what I do with most of my movies.

KING: It used to be said that there's no reason any person shouldn't get help, that health is a right --

MOORE: That's right. I believe it is.

KING: -- not a privilege. It's a right.

MOORE: It's a human right, that's right.

KING: Why don't we have it in America?

MOORE: You know, it's a good question because -- because we're actually -- we're very good people. We have a very generous heart, especially as we are toward each other. And when there's tragedy, when there's crises, we pull together.

We have a tragedy taking place every year now. Eighteen thousand people a year -- these are the -- these are the actual official statistics -- 18,000 people a year die in this country for no other reason other than the fact that they don't have a health insurance card. That's six 9/11s every single year in America. Forty-seven million without health insurance.

We don't have it because I guess we just haven't had the collective will to say, you know what?

This -- we should do this. And what I notice, especially in some of these other countries -- Canada and Britain and France and the other industrialized countries -- is they have this attitude that if too many of their people fall between the cracks, if too many of them go without, the society as a whole suffers. And so they've made a commitment to making sure that there's a safety net.

KING: But you do your documentary so well that one is given to think if I have the flu in New York, I ought to fly to Montreal.

MOORE: No, don't do that. Actually, the quality of our care here is -- is --

KING: Excellent.

MOORE: Excellent. It's very good. And we have some of the best doctors in the world. There's no doubt about that.

The problem is, is that it's uneven. It's not for everyone. And it's those, like I said, those 47 million that don't have the health insurance. And that's the people that have health insurance and they think that they're fully covered until they find out that they get a particular illness or whatever, and the company goes, you know, we're not covering that one.

KING: But every political candidate says health is high on their list.

MOORE: Yes, they do. And, in fact, they're even using words like universal health care, you know, health care for all. But that shouldn't -- that's not good enough. I mean we need more specifics out of them. We need them to say specifically what they would do to fix this problem.

John Edwards has offered his specifics, which is a step in the right direction. I don't particularly agree with his plan. But at least he has come forward and said, you know, this is what I would do. And we need to really hear that, in very specific terms, from the other candidates.

KING: Was this a hard movie to make?

MOORE: Yes, it was. It was because we dealt with a lot of people who were sick and dying. Some died while we were making the film. So that's why I thought it was very important that there be a -- a certain amount of comedy and humor in the film to relieve the --

KING: Yes.

MOORE: -- disparage.

KING: Well, it does.

MOORE: That you feel. So, yes. So it's -- it's -- you know, I've sat in the back of theaters and I hear more laughs in this film than I've heard in many of my other films. But I also is -- if you saw it with people --

KING: I did.

MOORE: Well, and there's a lot of crying, too. I mean it's -- it goes to both extremes in this film. And it's -- I think it's moved a lot of people.

KING: Michael Moore.

The film is "Sicko."

It opened today and it is apparently doing a runaway business.

We'll be back with more.

Don't go away.


GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got an issue in America -- too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB-GYNs are not able to practice their -- their love with women all across this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Michael Moore decided to make a movie on the health care industry, top level executives were on the defensive.

What were they hiding? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not on, right?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The intent is to maximize profits.

MOORE: When you denied more people health care, you got a bonus?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you don't spend money on somebody, it's a savings to the company.




MOORE: There is actually one place on American soil that has free universal health care.

Which way to Guantanamo Bay?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Detainees representing a threat to our national security are given access to top notch medical facilities.

MOORE: Permission to enter. I have three 9/11 rescue workers. They just want some medical attention, the same kind that the evildoers are getting.



KING: That's one of the highlights of "Sicko." He takes people who are hurt and harmed and still hurt and harmed from 9/11, can't get good medical care where they live, so he takes them to Guantanamo.


MOORE: No, actually --

KING: Not a gimmick?

MOORE: Oh, no. No. I -- I -- honestly, I've been doing this --

KING: You could have taken them to Canada.

MOORE: I could have. But the irony of the fact that the Al Qaeda detainees in GITMO, who we accused of plotting 9/11, receive full free medical, dental, eye care, nutrition counseling. You can get the list from the Congressional records of how many teeth cleanings they've done and how many colonoscopies -- the whole list of this. And I'm thinking jeez, they're getting better care than a lot of Americans. And, in fact, I knew these 9/11 rescue workers who weren't getting any care at all. They have now respiratory ailments as a result of working down at ground zero.

And it just seemed highly ironic to me that the people who tried to save lives on 9/11 weren't getting help. The people who helped to plot 9/11 were getting all this free help. So I thought why don't we take them down there and see if we can get the same kind of help.

KING: And you did and it's -- it's a great thing to watch on the film.

However, the "Today" show says it took 18 months to arrange broadcasts from Cuba.

How did you get there in less time?

MOORE: Well, it's the "Today" show, you know?

You've got to lug around all these makeup and stylists and people --

KING: You snuck in?


Well, no. Basically I travel light, first of all, and --

KING: But you had to set it up with the doctors?

MOORE: Oh, yes. No, no. The law in this country, first of all, is very clear -- that journalists can travel to Cuba freely. You don't have to get a license or anything to do that. And I do have a small production. I mean, it's camera, sound, a couple of people and so it's very easy. And -- but, I mean, we did put about six months of planning into this, of trying to figure out what we were going to do, how we were going to do it.

KING: But you knew the doctors you would see and --

MOORE: Yes. But I'll tell you, the Cubans didn't -- did not want me sailing that boat into Guantanamo Bay. And, in fact, they just kept saying no, no, no. Because they were afraid that if I did that, that it might provoke an incident that they didn't want to occur. And so, you know, at the last minute, we were able to do it.

KING: Now, former Senator -- GOP Senator Fred Thompson slammed you in a blog on the "National Review," online suggesting you had parroted myths about the Cuban health care system created by Castro and his regime. You slammed him back.



FRED THOMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: You know, I've been looking at my schedule, Michael, and I don't think I have time for you. But I may be the least of your problems. You know, the next time you're down in Cuba visiting your buddy Castro, you might ask him about another documentary filmmaker. His name is Nicholas Guillen.

He did something that Castro didn't like and they put him in a mental institution for several years, giving him devastating electroshock treatments. A mental institution, Michael. It might be something you ought to think about.



KING: You challenged him to a debate?

MOORE: I challenged him to a debate. He turned me down. He wouldn't do it. And so he made what I thought was a pretty funny video. Smoking --

KING: Was he off point?

MOORE: At the beginning of it, I think he's actually smoking a Cuban cigar. (LAUGHTER) So he clearly doesn't have a problem with Cuba when it comes to that.

He also failed to mention how many tens of thousands of dollars he took in contributions from the pharmaceutical industry when he was in the United States Senate.

But, you know, the offer is still open to him if he wants to come on this show, debate me on the subject matter. It would be great.

KING: There's a quick flash when you list the medical systems in the world. And the United States comes in 37th. Cuba comes in 39th.

MOORE: Yes, that's correct.

KING: You don't mention that, but we see it.

MOORE: No, I show it. Yes, I show it. For a Third World country, they probably have the best health care system -- for a poor Third World country. And -- but it's certainly, you know, you'd much rather, you know, get sick here than in Cuba -- I mean, obviously, if I was given that choice.

Having said that, they have -- and all the independent health organizations around the world have said that they actually have an incredible health care system. They train a lot of doctors. There's a doctor on every block. The care is for free and -- but they're poor and so they don't have everything that we have.

KING: The French come out pretty good in your movie.

MOORE: Yes, the French have a very good system. And, you know, with all the debate and the talk about whether we should have universal health care -- and you'll hear people criticizing the Canadian system and the British system. You'll rarely hear any criticism about the French, because -- that's because the French pretty much get it right and do it right. And that's why the World Health Organization says they have the best health care system in the world.

KING: That couple, you show that couple that get all the free medical care. They live a pretty nice life.


KING: A beautiful apartment. They travel.

MOORE: Right. If you're middle class in France, you're paying more taxes than you do here. But so many things are covered. Your kids go to college for free. You have no medical bills. Day care is cheap or free. All these services you get -- when you add up what you have to pay for those here in this country, if you added that onto the taxes we pay, we actually end up paying more. If you're a couple with a couple kids, you're paying more than what you're paying if you lived in France in taxes.

KING: Michael Moore is our guest.

The film is "Sicko."

It opened today.

We'll be right back with more.

We'll include your phone calls, some e-mails, too.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want America to have the finest health care in the world.

MOORE: Four health care lobbyists for every member of Congress. Here's what it cost to buy this men and this woman, this guy and this guy.

And the United States slipped to 37th in health care around the world, just slightly ahead of Slovenia.



KING: You were supposed to have a debate with Tom DeLay on the George Stephanopoulos weekly thing, "This Week With George Stephanopoulos." And you backed out and DeLay called you a chicken.

MOORE: Well, actually, I was supposed to debate Billy Tauzin, who is the CEO of PhRMA, the pharmaceutical lobby. KING: A former congressman.

MOORE: A former congressman. And he backed out. So when he backed out, they went and got Tom DeLay.

And I said well, what does he have to do with this issue, you know what I mean?

So, I said, well, OK. And after I said OK, then they said Tom DeLay wanted his own digital DVD copy of this movie. And I said the guy has been charged with a felony. I'm not giving him a digital copy of my movie. I mean no movie studio in America would do that. And so that was the end of that.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Lynn in London, Ontario: "Those folks you brought to Cuba, the ones you showed getting free health care, how are they doing?"

MOORE: Well, they're doing better. They -- I mean, when I say better, they were able to get some medicine that they needed and they were given a treatment plan to help them cope with what may end up being permanent illnesses and ailments that they received down at ground zero. They may have that for the rest of their lives. So they need far more care, all of them.

And, Larry, I mean literally, there are hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who went down there, workers who went down there, who worked for months. And the fact that our government won't take care of them, I mean this is really tragic. And I'm -- I'm hoping that Congress or somebody will step in and say --

KING: Why don't they? Why don't we take --

MOORE: Yes, exactly, why don't they?

I mean some -- some members of Congress have said they're going to push for legislation that takes care of this.

The problem is that many of the people that went down there on 9/11 who weren't city or state employees aren't covered under the city and state plans. And that's why they're not getting, you know, the help that they deserve.

Anybody who went down there to help and became sick as a result of helping should receive that help. And I hope that people get behind that.

KING: We have a King cam question.

We send our cameras out to the streets and ask them -- the folks -- anything they want to ask.




I have a question.

We represent school-based health care for children. It's a small access way for kids to get health care.

Why aren't there more school-based health centers in this country?


MOORE: Oh, that's a very good question. It's something that's really needed. You know, nine million of those 47 million that uninsured, nine million of them are children. You would think that even the most conservative person would say, well, there should at least be coverage for every child. No child should have to worry about not being able to see a doctor simply because their parents can't afford it. And I would hope that we could find common grown, both of us, on all sides of the political fence, and say at least on that very -- on that issue alone, can't we at least help the kids?

KING: Concerning Canada, aren't there long waits in Canada? Don't you have to wait months for surgery?

MOORE: No. There's waits. There's waits. The average wait, according to their latest statistics, is four weeks for elective surgery -- not, you know, life and death stuff. It's four weeks to see a specialist. But "Business Week" this week, in our country, talked about, in the U.S. women having to wait six weeks for a mammogram. I mean we have long waits in this country for certain things, too.

The difference between our waits and their waits is this. They have a triage system that says those in most need of care go to the front of the line. Those who can wait, you know, it's not going to affect you too badly, can wait a few weeks. And that's what happens when you have a system when you say we're going to share the pie.

Sometimes you get the first slice, sometimes you get the third slice and sometimes you get the last slice. But the important thing to remember is everyone gets a slice.

That's not the case in this country. It's a -- you end up, if you're lucky enough to have the money and if you have a good plan or you belong to a union and have a group plan, you're going to have it a little better off.

KING: Would you say the Canadians are happy with their system?

MOORE: Yes, they are. According to the latest polls that they've taken, 78 percent say that they're happy with their system. You won't find that number with Americans in terms of our health care system.

KING: Yet the image of America and health is strong, isn't it?


KING: When we think of America, the doctors are great. The hospitals are terrific.

MOORE: Right, they are.

KING: Or maybe I'm wrong.

MOORE: No. No, we -- no, we have a terrific group of doctors. Part of the problem is we don't have enough of them. For too long, the AMA controlled how many medical schools could be built or opened. And that controlled how many doctors were in the system.

And so when we had -- as we had longer waits with the baby boom and the babies that were born to the baby boomers, we found ourselves with a shortage of doctors. And so we had to let in a lot of doctors, or people who wanted to come from other countries, to be doctors here.

KING: Are you saying that people want to be doctors because of how much money they'll make?

MOORE: Well, no, I'm not saying that. I think most doctors are wanting to be doctors because they want to help people.


MOORE: I hope that's the reason. I think that's the reason.

KING: I would assume that's the reason.

MOORE: Yes, yes, that's -- oh, absolutely. I -- doctors are not the problem. I've talked to enough doctors. Actually, family doctors are a demoralized bunch these days because what they have is a middleman in between them and the patient. It's called the insurance man. The insurance company is the one deciding whether or not the doctor can perform a procedure or treatment on a patient.

I mean just think about that. You go to see a doctor. The doctor says I think you need this particular operation. But the doctor just can't order the operation or send you to a specialist. He has to call someone sitting in a cubicle, maybe a thousand miles away, who has -- who can then give permission. And as you see in my film, the doctors who work at the insurance companies, they get bonuses for denying the most number of claims. They actually get rewarded. And they actually have a ratio, a percentage, that they're expected to deny in terms of, you know, people that need help. That's a crazy system.

KING: A few critics have taken that on, by the way.

How did it come to that?

MOORE: Well, it happened -- it happened, actually, back in the early '70s with Richard Nixon. I show this in the film. I have some secret Nixon tapes that we found.

KING: With Ehrlichman.

MOORE: With Ehrlichman. And I play them in the film -- where Ehrlichman is coming in to talk to Richard Nixon about this HMO idea. And Nixon says I don't want to hear anything about that medical stuff.

And Ehrlichman is no, no, wait, this is private enterprise, because this -- they've come up with this idea of if you provide less care, the insurance company makes more money.

And Nixon goes oh. Oh, that's a good idea.

And that's how the HMOs -- the modern day HMOs began.

KING: That's quite a moment.

We'll be back with more e-mails, phone calls.

Michael Moore is our guest.

By the way, on Monday night, Isaiah Washington will be with us. An extraordinary hour coming, Isaiah Washington.

And Robin Williams on Tuesday.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "SICKO," COURTESY OF THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY) MOORE: There was one person in the health care industry who did have a conscience, Dr. Linda Peeno, a former medical reviewer at Humana. She was let go because she wasn't denying enough claims.


LINDA PEENO, THE CARE FOUNDATION: I am here primarily today to make a public confession. In the spring of 1987, as a physician, I denied a man a necessary operation that would have saved his life and thus caused his death. No person and no group has held me accountable for this because, in fact, what I did was I saved a company a half a million dollars.



KING: We're back. We have a quick vote on our website The question, what's your favorite Michael Moore film. Right now "Fahrenheit 9/11" is in the lead. If you want to vote, head to And also on our site, you can submit a video e-mail for our guest. Now let's take a look at one sent in for Michael. It's from Doug in New York.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Michael, I'm a really big admirer of your work. And you recently announced you're supporting Al Gore for president in 2008 even when there are other liberal candidates in the race, yet in 2000 you worked against Al Gore when he was running against George W. Bush. Can you explain that?

KING: All right.

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Very good question. I'm not endorsing Al Gore. I just -- I said -- I think it would be a good idea if he got in the race. I think he would bring a lot to it. And I think he's saying a lot of the right things and has been saying them.

KING: But you didn't support him in 2000?

MOORE: I didn't support him. I lived here in New York State at the time, and I supported Ralph Nader. And I said that, you know, I was part of a group of people who said that if you live in a state that's not a swing state, a state that's definitely going to go for either Gore or Bush, considering voting for Nader. It's a strategy the right has often used, you know, when their person is elected like Reagan or Bush, and you want to pull them to the right as much as possible.

KING: But a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush, wasn't it?

MOORE: Well, it wasn't in New York state because remember...

KING: In some places it was.

MOORE: Yes. And I said if you lived in Florida or places like that you have to vote for Gore. And I have to be honest and say it's really -- it's had tragic results. And unfortunately, Ralph Nader, a lot of his supporters, he said he wasn't going to campaign in the swing states and then he went and campaigned in those states. And when he started doing that, a lot of us said we're not going there. We're not doing that. And I didn't and I told, you know, my fans that if you live in places like Florida or Ohio or whatever, you've got to vote for Gore.

KING: Let's take a call for Michael Moore. The film is "Sicko," opened today. Atlanta, hello.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening, gentlemen. Michael, you said that the Guantanamo detainees, they receive better care and treatment than many Americans. Now just looking at it objectively, doesn't that fly in the face of the accusations of torture at Guantanamo?

MOORE: Well, both can happen.

KING: They torture you and then they repair you -- a little joke.

MOORE: Well, I mean, it is possible that, I mean, good and bad can occur in the same place. I mean, obviously I'm using satire here to a certain extent. So, you know, I don't support the fact that we've held these people now for five or six years without trial, without representation. It's really un-American, and I know a lot of Americans don't like that.

KING: And the Supreme Court reversed prior decisions and agreed to hear it today.

MOORE: That's correct, and I think that was a very good move.

KING: Do you -- if you had a serious health problem, you wouldn't leave the country, would you?

MOORE: No, I wouldn't because I'm one of the 9 percent of the American people that belong to a union of non-governmental employees. Only 9 percent now belong to a union. And so that means I have very good health insurance as part of my union, The Directors Guild.

And so, you know, and in fact, I mean, I had appendicitis a couple years ago, had to have my appendix out. And they rushed me to the hospital and they wheeled me in and, you know, I'm not worrying about the money. I had other worries. I'm looking up at the anesthesiologist as he's -- you know I just said to him, you know, there's a lot of people that pay you some big bucks just to turn that up a notch or two.


KING: We another e-mail from Jeanetta in Phoenix, Arizona. The question: "Michael, "Sicko" is all about the health care crisis. You're not exactly a picture of health yourself. How about eating better and losing some of that weight, Big Guy?"

MOORE: That's right. I agree 100 percent. I was in the middle of working on this movie, and I thought, you know, Mike, it's pretty hypocritical, you're making a movie about health care and you're not taking care of your own health. So I started to do that and I started to go for a walk every day. And now, you know, I walk for half an hour to an hour every day. I eat fruits and vegetables. These were actually great discoveries, by the way, fruits.

KING: Fruits, they have been around a while.

MOORE: I realized that and I've been avoiding them. But I've lost about 30 pounds now in the last three months. And now, I'm on the right path and it is one way to fight the system. If you want to avoid the broken system, one way to do that for a lot of people is to eat the right things and get out and move around a little bit.

KING: In the making of this film, what surprised you the most?

MOORE: One of the things that surprised me the most when I'm interviewing that British doctor, and I asked him how much he makes and he says around $200,000 a year. He says, but, "I get bonuses if I get my patients to stop smoking, for the number of patients I get to stop smoking or lower their cholesterol or their blood pressure. I will make more money if more of my patients become healthier that year." I thought that's such a simple idea, and maybe one we should try.

KING: It's that time. We'll be right back with more of Michael.

It's that time of the week again. Our newest podcast is available for downloading. It's Paris Hilton. A new podcast for you every week. That's at or subscribe to see it on iTunes.

Back with more of Michael Moore right after this.


MOORE: Laura Burnham was in a 45-mile-an-hour head-on collision that knocked her out cold. Paramedics got her out of a car and into the ambulance for a trip to the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I get a bill from my insurance company telling me that the ambulance ride was not going to be paid for because it wasn't pre-approved. I don't know exactly when I was supposed to pre-approve it, you know, like after I gain consciousness in the car, before I got in the ambulance, or I should have grabbed my cell phone off of the street and called while I was in the ambulance or -- I mean it was just crazy.



KING: We're back with Michael Moore.

By the way, I don't want to put you on warning, but his next film might be about pharmaceuticals. I just don't want to panic the industry but that might happen, right?

MOORE: Not that you've been lobbying me during the commercial break.

KING: No, I think it would make an interesting film.

MOORE: Yes, it would. I tell you, you could do a whole movie on just the pharmaceutical companies.

KING: Let's take a call from Miami -- hello.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Mr. Moore. I'm sure we can consider cancer mentality as being a good indicator of overall health of the health care system. So how do you explain the fact that cancer mortality rates in the U.S., according to national statistics, are lower than that of Canada, France and the United Kingdom?

MOORE: Because we're very good at that. We're good at that, and -- but you can take -- you know, I can give you other examples where they might be better at that than France or Germany or Norway. What we need to look at is the overall longevity, the average life span of an American is less than it is in Canada. The Canadians live three years longer than we do. The Brits live a little bit less than that but longer than we do. And the French and the Norwegians live considerably longer.

And definitely we should really take a look at it because one of the reasons that they do live longer in the countries is when you don't have 47 million people without health insurance, if you don't have health insurance, you don't go to the doctor right away. You start to feel a little sick and I'll get through this. You know is a lump? No, maybe it isn't. You know you don't go right away. If you don't go right away, you put it off.

KING: That's one of the complaints, Michael. People say if you have that, people would rush in with a pimple.

MOORE: Well, you will have people that will abuse it. But we'd better off as a society if those who put off going until it's then too late, we lose a lot of good people before their time because they don't have health insurance.

KING: We have an e-mail from Mary in Milwaukee. "What can we do to help affect change in the health care system? I write my federal and state representatives. It seems my letters mean as much as campaign contributions."

MOORE: Well, that's a very legitimate complaint. We have got to get money. I know this sounds like an old cliche by this point, money out of politics. But it really does control our members of Congress and our senators. And I show in the film it's Democrats and Republicans that take this money. And most of the presidential candidates have taken large sums from the pharmaceutical companies, from the health insurance companies and so -- so it is a difficult thing to fight.

But the good news is that you've got the executives and the people over here running the health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies and they'd like to keep it that way. Then there's all the rest of us. And because we still have one person, one vote in this country there's more of us than there are of them.

So if we actually decide to use the power that we have as citizens in a democracy and only elect candidates, in fact, demand that the candidates next year, the people you're going to vote for, go to the town forums, go to the places that they show up, and say, you know I'm not going to vote for you if you're going to take money from the drug lobby, from the health insurance lobby. And I want you to support universal free health care for all Americans and explain to me how you're going to do that.

We have to hold their feet to the fire on this because, believe me, they won't do it on their own.

KING: A "Wall Street Journal" commentary by a physician who's a fellow Manhattan Institute writes this about France's health care system, "France's system failed so spectacularly in the summer heat of 2003 that 13,000 people died largely due to dehydration. Hospitals stopped answering the phones and ambulance attendants told people to fend for themselves."

MOORE: Right. It was a huge tragedy. It was their Katrina and something that was shameful and that they felt ashamed of. Here's the difference between their Katrina and our Katrina: when that land, they were so embarrassed that they allowed that to happen, that they decided we're going to fix this and we're going to guarantee -- well, first of all, we're going to make sure there's air conditioning in every senior's apartment or home in this country.

And they asked the French people, would you be willing to give up, say, a day's wages or whatever just to fund this. And collectively the people of France were willing to do what they could do to fund this They said yes, if you want to take an extra few dollars from me in taxes or whatever so that there's air conditioning in all these apartments we'll do it. And they set about on a program to get that air conditioning in those apartments so that that wouldn't happen again and a whole bunch of other procedures so that when the hospitals, if they needed to respond during an emergency like that. I mean it's an amazing thing what they've done in just a couple of years compared to the way that we have many of us, a lot of people, I think, have forgotten about New Orleans already.

KING: Michael Moore is the guest. "Sicko" is the film. And we'll be back with more of Michael Moore right after this.


KING: We're back with Michael Moore. "Sicko" is now open. We have another King cam question. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael, my concern is the soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. And I want to know what is our country going to do to better address their needs, especially the veterans and especially in the area of post-traumatic stress disorder?


MOORE: Oh, boy, this is going to be a big problem.

KING: They're covered though. They all are, aren't they, I mean cost-wise?

MOORE: Well, they're covered, yes. The V.A. actually it's a good system, socialized medicine.

KING: That's what it is.

MOORE: That's what it is. But oftentimes it's been under- funded. And we have to make sure in the coming years that the V.A. is properly funded to take care of whatever any soldier needs as they deal with whatever injuries that they're recovering from or the PTSD.

KING: Are you confident that we will?

MOORE: Well, I would to think that we would, wouldn't you?

KING: Let's take a call.

Greensboro, North Carolina, hello.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Larry for taking my phone call.

KING: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me and my wife are in our 60s. We do not have health insurance. But I would like to ask Michael one question. With his availability to do things for America, is there any way that he can promote America rather than badgering America with the problems because I think America needs someone to stand up for them because we've gone a long way to take ourselves down.

KING: But isn't he trying to help you, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not believe so, not when he takes America and says that these things are all wrong. But me and my wife do not have any problems trying to fight things, but we will be glad to hear someone with Michael Moore's status try to do more better for America and say America is a good place. It's the greatest place in the world. Thank you.

MOORE: America is a great place, and it's full of great people, and I say this in the film. We are a people that have a heart and a soul and a conscience, and we know the difference between right and wrong. And I think when most Americans start to hear the truth about how many of their fellow Americans go uninsured and how many of their fellow Americans who have insurance don't get the help that they should be getting, even with insurance.

And you say that you don't have insurance and you're 60 years old, I'm trying to fix that. I mean I'm, in my own small way, making this movie. I'm trying to ensure that you and others like you are able to get whatever medical care that you need and that you never have to worry about the cost of that.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Tim in Cleveland: "What kind of health care plan do you offer the people who work for you?"

MOORE: I offer them the gold standard. They have great care. There's no deductible for my employees.

KING: How did you choose it?

MOORE: We researched the various insurance companies. And I did not want any of this 90-day waiting period. And I wanted them to have dental care, too. This is another thing we don't talk much about is the need for dental care. All Americans should have dental care.

KING: One other thing we haven't covered: the "Washington Times" reported the fact that last year Canadians had to wait an average of 17.8 weeks between seeing their family doctor and receiving specialist treatment.

MOORE: That's not true.

KING: Not true?

MOORE: That is not true, no. And you know in the health insurance industry, they do a very good job of putting out these kinds of statistics. And I just heard Anderson say he's going to have Dr. Gupta on here. And I've never spoken to Dr. Gupta, but I'm sure that most people in this business, doctors, know the truth about this.

Yes, there are flaws in the Canadian system, absolutely. There's flaws in any system, but instead of talking about what's wrong with the Canadian system, why don't we say, geez, you know, they're doing a couple things right up there. Why don't we do the two things they do right and don't do the two things they do wrong, and do the two things the Brits do right and the two things the French do right. And let's put that all together into our own American system.

KING: You're not saying change our whole system and take everything they've got?

MOORE: Well, I don't think we could ever like actually be their system because it's unique to them and their culture. But we as Americans certainly can at the very least say that no one should go uninsured, that's number one; and number two, remove the profit incentive.

To have profit involved in this, it's a bizarre thing. This is a life-and-death issue. You wouldn't demand that the fire department post a profit or the police department. You wouldn't farm that out to a private company. You wouldn't have a middle man when you get a fire call. You have to call the guy and say can we go put that house fire out? No, it's too far on the other side of town. We're going to lose money.

KING: We'll get another break and then we'll be back with our remaining moments with Michael Moore, the producer and director of "Sicko." Don't go away.


MOORE: This guy broke his ankle. How much will this cost him? Will he have a huge bill when he's done, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is free.

MOORE: I'm asking about hospital charges.


MOORE: And you're laughing.

Even with insurance there's bound to be a bill somewhere. What did they charge you for that baby?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None. Everything is on...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have insurance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not America.




KING: One more e-mail question for Michael Moore from Naomi in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: "How do you feel your films benefit Americans?"

MOORE: Well, my films provide the other side of the story. I show you things that you don't see necessarily on the evening news, you know. In "Fahrenheit 9/11," I showed you scenes from Walter Reed Hospital. That was three years ago. It took three years before that became an issue in the mainstream media.

I do a lot of these things. Sometimes I go too far in advance and people aren't ready to hear it or listen to it. But my contribution to this country is to make these films in the hopes that we can get things right, make them better and aspire to everything that I think that we're capable of doing here.

KING: Are you surprised at "Sicko's" apparent success?

MOORE: I am somewhat. I'm stunned by these numbers that they gave us just at the beginning of the show of how well it's done today. And it's selling out all across the country. But then, on the other hand, I'm not surprised because this topic affects everyone. And it doesn't know political stripe. Illness isn't Democrat. It isn't Republican. And I've made a film where I'm hoping to reach out and you saw that in the film, reaching out to people who disagree with me politically but saying to them we can have some common ground on this issue. We should come together on this issue and let's fix this problem.

KING: Do you think we will fix this problem?

MOORE: Yes, I do.

KING: You're optimistic.

MOORE: I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't, absolutely.

KING: You think change will occur?

MOORE: Change is always -- it's always gotten better, Larry. Women couldn't vote and then they had the right to vote. We didn't have civil rights and then we did. Things get better. We're very good at fixing our problems.

KING: Always good seeing you, Michael.

MOORE: Hey, thank you. Thank you very much.

KING: "Sicko" now playing wide.

Don't forget to go to our website You can send an e-mail or a video e-mail to our upcoming guests and participate in quick votes or download our podcasts. It's all at And a reminder, Monday night, an interview you won't want to miss. Isaiah Washington speaking out for the first time on television since "Gray's Anatomy" let him go after his anti-gay slurs. Watch a little.


ISAIAH WASHINGTON, ACTOR: I will say this, I am very sorry. The context went up that the day I had on Martin Luther's Day birthday, hey, holiday; my wife's birthday was January 15, that I stepped up to the mike after this intrusive tabloid journalist was going after us with the same erroneous report that I attacked him. I unbelievably regret that. I wish I could take that back. If I could take that moment back that you just showed...


KING: A powerful emotional hour, Isaiah Washington Monday; and Robin Williams next Tuesday.

And right now "AC 360" with Anderson Cooper.