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Health care forum

Shannon Miller, chair of Care for All - California, left, answers an audience question at forum on health care at the Nevada City Theater Tuesday evening. Alongside her (left to right) are Jeff Kane, a physician; couple Terry Sterrenberg and Laurie Simons, an American and Canadian respectively, who made the documentary "The Health Care Movie" that was screen prior to discussion; and host/moderator Roger Hicks, a physician, medical director and co-owner of Yubadocs Urgent Care in Grass Valley.

Over two years after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act and four months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the guts of it constitutional, health care remains a hot topic on the campaign trail to next week’s election, as Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney has vowed to issue Obamacare waivers to every state on his first day in office, if elected.

On Tuesday evening, more than 100 people packed the Nevada City Theatre for a film and discussion comparing the United States’ health care system to Canada’s single-payer model.

The film, “The Health Care Movie,” chronicles how the Canadian and U.S. health care systems diverged from when they were essentially the same at one point in the 1950s.



Much of documentary chronicles the impetus of Canada’s current health care system in Saskatchewan led by Tommy Douglas, a minister and a democratic socialist politician. Backlash to the reform in the 1960s mirrors arguments in the U.S. today, using words such as “socialism,” “government takeover” and “freedom.”

“We made this movie to combat myths, lies and misconceptions about Canada’s health care system,” said Laurie Simons, a Canadian, who made the documentary with Terry Sterrenberg, her American husband.




The low-budget film also features hundreds of snippets of on-the-street interviews with U.S. residents, mostly people in Portland, about their perceptions of Canada’s single-payer health care system. Predominant themes listed locally included the belief that Canadians face long waits for service, rationed care and have low satisfaction.

Conversely, the film featured scores of on-street interviews with Canadian residents of Vancouver, who refuted those perceptions.

“Our costs are the highest per person as percent of (Gross Domestic Product) or in actual dollars per person per year, but our actual results are not the best,” said Roger Hicks, medical director and co-owner of Yubadocs Urgent Care in Grass Valley, who acted as host of the evening.

“Far from it. If you look at infant mortality, life expectancy, access to health care, patient satisfaction, we are — despite what Rush Limbaugh will tell you — are not No. 1,” Hicks said.

Simons and Sterrenberg attended the Nevada City screening and stuck around afterward for a panel discussion with Jeff Kane, a physician who founded patient and caregiver support programs at Grass Valley’s Sierra Nevada Center and Sutter Cancer Center in Sacramento.

Also on stage was Shannon Miller, a Santa Barbara tax accountant and chair of Health Care for All-California, a nonprofit dedicated to achieving universal health care for everyone in California.

“Our present system incentivises high-tech tests and treatments in volume, not helping people be and stay healthy,” said Hicks, who also moderated the
post-film panel that featured unattributed questions submitted by attendees.

About half of the audience stuck around for the panel discussion with an estimated median age of 50 years old.

No one in attendance spoke against a universal health care model.

Panelists argued that instead of increasing the quality of care, the increase in the cost of health
care in the U.S. has instead gone
to unnecessary administrative costs and insurance companies.

The majority of the questions were directed to Miller regarding California’s Health Care for All proposal.

Miller’s organization advocates for single-payer approach, using one public agency to collect all contributions and pay all bills through taxes, replacing premiums, co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses associated with health insurance plans, according to its website.

Comprehensive coverage identified by the single payer, including prevention and all medically necessary care, would be equal for all residents, according to Care for All advocates.

Its supporters also argue that a streamlined and cost-efficient administration would save money.

“You will see services increase by being able to go anywhere and have more things covered,” Miller said of Medicaid users under her organization’s proposed reform.

The event was free to the public and hosted by the Nevada County chapter of Care for All.

Visit healthcareforall.org for information.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.


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