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Moore to Arnold: Adopt Austrian health care

/ Source: The Associated Press

Michael Moore has a suggestion to help California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger bring universal health care to the nation’s largest state: Just do it the Austrian way.

“I would like Gov. Schwarzenegger to say that he wants the citizens of California to have the same, fine, universal health coverage he got as a young man in the country of Austria,” Moore said Tuesday of the Austrian-born governor.

“That’s all we’re asking for, governor. Just give us the Austrian plan,” Moore said at a rally outside Los Angeles City Hall for supporters of universal health care. “That great Austrian health care system that provided you with that fine body that you brought to this great country.”

With his health-care documentary “Sicko” opening nationwide Friday, Moore accompanied his advice with a few kind words for Schwarzenegger, who has proposed a plan to extend health-care coverage to most uninsured Californians and require all residents to carry insurance.

“I’ll say this for the governor,” Moore said. “At least unlike many Republicans, he’s willing to recognize there’s a problem. When you’re willing to state there’s a problem, what’s the old cliche? You’re 50 percent of the way there. ...

“Now we have to help him come up with the right solution, and the right solution is not to mandate health care and to put the burden on the average working person, who’s already overburdened.”

“Sicko” features health-care horror stories from Americans who suffered financial hardship or lost loved ones after health insurers declined coverage. The film also chides U.S. officials for failing to follow the lead of countries that have universal health coverage, such as Canada, Great Britain and France.

The Weinstein Co. and Lionsgate plan to release “Sicko” in about 400 theaters to start, roughly half the number for Moore’s last film, the $100 million hit “Fahrenheit 9/11,” in 2004.

Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Co., said that because of its wider release, “Fahrenheit 9/11” came and went at theaters faster than he wanted. With “Sicko,” he said he hoped for a longer shelf life similar to last year’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary chronicling former Vice President Al Gore’s campaign to educate people about global warming.

“We saw the effect Al Gore’s movie had. When President Bush comes out for global warming, you know ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ had an impact,” Weinstein said. “‘Fahrenheit,’ we went wide and we went fast. I’m thinking that like the Al Gore movie, maybe we should play a long time. I don’t mind sticking around and just keeping the debate going.”