Forum to examine American, Canadian healthcare systems |

Forum to examine American, Canadian healthcare systems

Courtesy photo

A rapidly growing number of Americans are fed up with the current health care system, and if they aren’t, says Nevada City physician Jeff Kane, perhaps they haven’t been sick enough to need it.

Some now feel the current model has become too costly, overly bureaucratic, unsustainable, even unethical.

That’s why a group of local health care reform advocates, activists and physicians are sponsoring a town hall discussion and screening of the health care documentary, “The Healthcare Movie,” Oct. 30 in Nevada City.

Attending the event will be husband-wife filmmaking team Laurie Simons and Terry Sterrenberg, whose idea for the film came directly from their own experiences.

Simons is Canadian and Sterrenberg American. For 10 years, the couple lived in Canada, where they started a family. Upon moving to Seattle in 1992, they experienced “the culture shock of switching from the worry-free health care system in Canada to the complicated, expensive and anxiety-provoking system in the United States.”

Their experience inspired them to examine the evolution of the health care systems in both countries and why the neighboring nations ultimately ended up with dramatically different approaches. The film is narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, whose grandfather, Tommy Douglas, was instrumental in the development of Canada’s public health care system in 1967.

Making people think

“Making the film was eye-opening,” said Simons. “The Canadian and American health care systems were almost identical in 1950, then parted ways. The U.S. had well funded propaganda campaigns designed to make a publicly funded health care system seem like socialism.”

It’s a movie that makes people think, said Sterrenberg, who emphasized their goal was to portray accurately the workings of the Canadian health care system, warts and all.

“But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they didn’t believe in a single-payer system before they saw the film and changed their minds on the way out,” he said. “Canada is not a perfect place ­­—­ we’re not advocating for a system identical to theirs, but we wanted people to get a realistic impression of what single-payer is about.”

Sponsored by the Nevada County chapter of Health Care for All-CA, a question-and-answer session will follow the film, which will include the filmmakers, HCA state chair Shannon Miller and two local physicians, Kane and Roger Hicks. Last year’s event was so popular that a second event was scheduled to accommodate the crowd.

According to organizers, among the key topics to be discussed this year is, “Do we still need single-payer even though ‘Obamacare’ was passed?”

“The most important issue isn’t just single-payer,” said Kane. “It’s getting the public talking about this, not just the bean-counters in Washington. Our daily habits are another important issue — we still believe it’s easier to take a pill and hope your problem goes away. People think if they wear out their heart, it’s OK because there’s another one on the rack. Costs are skyrocketing everywhere, not just here. People need to get off their sofas and into the plazas to discuss this.”

To contact staff writer Cory Fisher, email

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