Cuba has great socialized medicine -- much better than the half-socialized system the United States has, according to Michael Moore and his documentary "Sicko."
"They believe in preventative medicine," Moore says in his movie. "And it seems like there's a doctor on every block."
To prove his point, Moore took some sick 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba. The group, with a camera crew tagging along, was treated at a showcase Havana hospital.
"I asked them to give us the same exact care they give their fellow Cuban citizens. No more, no less. And that's what they did," Moore insists in the movie.
I asked him if he really believes that.
"Oh, I know that's what they did," he told me. "One of the 9/11 rescue workers sneaks out of her hospital room, goes downstairs and pretends to be sick. She said the same exact process took place."
I suggested that was because Cuban authorities send tourists and dignitaries to special clinics.
"They didn't send us there. We went to a number of clinics," he said.
It's an average hospital?
"Yes, they have a clinic in every neighborhood in Cuba. This isn't just me saying this, you know. All the world health organizations have confirmed that if there's one thing they do right in Cuba, it's health care. There's very little debate about that."
Oh, there's plenty of debate.
Cuban-born Dr. Jose Carro, who interviews Cuban doctors who have moved to the United States, says Moore's movie lies. Dr. Darsi Ferrer, a human-rights advocate in Cuba, told us that Americans should not believe the claims being made. He describes the Cuban people as "crazy with desperation" because of poor-quality care.
George Utset, who writes The Real Cuba Web site , says Moore and his group were ushered to the upper floors of the hospital, to rooms reserved for the privileged. "They don't go to the hospital for regular Cubans. They go to hospital for the elite. And it's a very different condition," Utset says.
For ordinary Cubans, health care is different. A YouTube.com video, posted by a woman from Venezuela, purports to show the two forms of health care, one for the privileged who pay in dollars and a far inferior one for regular Cubans.
Moore claims Cubans live longer than Americans. It's true that a U.N. report claims that. But the United Nations didn't gather any data. "The United Nations simply reports whatever the government in Cuba reports, so we have no objective way to know what the real statistics are," Carro says.
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