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Michael Moore takes 9/11 workers to Cuba


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April 15, 2007 -- Filmmaker Michael Moore's production company took ailing Ground Zero responders to Cuba in a stunt aimed at showing that the U.S. health-care system is inferior to Fidel Castro's socialized medicine, according to several sources with knowledge of the trip.

 

The trip was to be filmed as part of the controversial director's latest documentary, "Sicko," an attack on American drug companies and HMOs that Moore hopes to debut at the Cannes Film Festival next month.

 

Two years in the making, the flick also takes aim at the medical care being provided to people who worked on the toxic World Trade Center debris pile, according to several 9/11 workers approached by Moore's producers.

 

But the sick sojourn, which some say uses ill 9/11 workers as pawns, has angered many in the responder community.

 

"He's using people that are in a bad situation and that's wrong, that's morally wrong," railed Jeff Endean, a former SWAT commander from Morris County, N.J., who spent a month at Ground Zero and suffers from respiratory problems.

 

A spokeswoman for the Weinstein Co., the film's distributor, would not say when the director's latest expose would hit cinemas or provide details about the film or the trip.

 

Responders were told Cuban doctors had developed new techniques for treating lung cancer and other respiratory illness, and that health care in the communist country was free, according to those offered the two-week February trip.

 

Cuba has made recent advancements in biotechnology and exports its cancer treatments to 40 countries around the world, raking in an estimated $100 million a year, according to The Associated Press.

 

In 2004 the U.S. government granted an exception to its economic embargo against Cuba and allowed a California drug company to test three cancer vaccines developed in Havana, according to the AP.

 

Regardless, some ill 9/11 workers balked at Moore's idea.

 

"I would rather die in America than go to Cuba," said Joe Picurro, a Toms River, N.J., ironworker approached by the filmmaker via an e-mail that read, "Joe and Mike in Cuba."

 

After helping remove debris from Ground Zero, Picurro has a laundry list of respiratory and other ailments so bad that he relies on fund-raisers to help pay his expenses.

 

He said, "I just laughed. I couldn't do it."

 

Another ill worker who said he was willing to take the trip ended up being stiffed by Moore.

 

Michael McCormack, 48, a disabled medic who found an American flag at Ground Zero that once flew atop the Twin Towers, was all set to go to.

 

The film crew contacted him by phone and took him by limo from his Ridge, L.I., home to Manhattan for an on-camera interview.

 

"What he [Moore] wanted to do is shove it up George W's rear end that 9/11 heroes had to go to a communist country to get adequate health care," said McCormack, who suffers from chronic respiratory illness.

 

But McCormack said he was abandoned by Moore. At a March fund-raiser for another 9/11 responder in New Jersey, McCormack learned Moore had gone to Cuba without him.

 

"It's the ultimate betrayal," he said. "You're promised that you're going to be taken care of and then you find out you're not. He's trying to profiteer off of our suffering."

 

Moore's publicist did not return calls from The Post. But McCormack played a tape for The Post of a telephone conversation between himself and a Moore producer. The woman is heard apologizing for not taking McCormack, while saying the production company was not offering anyone guarantees of a cure.

 

"Even for the people that we did bring down to Cuba, we said we can promise that you will be evaluated, that you will get looked at," said the woman. "We can't promise that you will get fixed."

 

Participants in the Cuba trip were forced to sign a confidentiality agreement prohibiting them from talking about the project, the sources said.

 

Travel to Cuba is severely restricted from the United States, but Moore's crew was granted access, the producer told McCormack, through a "general license that allows for journalistic endeavors there."

 

Some called the trip a success, at least logistics-wise.

 

"From what I heard through the grapevine, those people that went are utterly happy," said John Feal, who runs the Fealgood Foundation to help raise money for responders and was approached by Moore to find responders willing to take the trip.

 

"They got the Elvis treatment."

 

Although he has been a critic of Cuba, Moore grew popular there after a pirated version of his movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11," was played on state-owned TV.

 

Additional reporting provided by Jill Culora, Susan Edelman and Ginger Adams Otis

 

janon.fisher@nypost.com

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They won't be getting the care that the citizens get thats for damn sure. there perfect socialized system didn't save my grandmother or a few other family members for that matter. this guy(Moore) is really repulsive. when i tell my mother about this she is going to flip out. R.I.P. Abuela. Died October 11th 2006 9:27pm.

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"I would rather die in America than go to Cuba," said Joe Picurro, a Toms River, N.J., ironworker approached by the filmmaker via an e-mail that read, "Joe and Mike in Cuba."

 

A bit of an odd statement in my opinion. This man would rather die in America than set one foot on Cuban soil? interesting.

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"I would rather die in America than go to Cuba," said Joe Picurro, a Toms River, N.J., ironworker approached by the filmmaker via an e-mail that read, "Joe and Mike in Cuba."

 

A bit of an odd statement in my opinion. This man would rather die in America than set one foot on Cuban soil? interesting.

 

Maybe he'd rather die than be used as a propaganda tool by a communist government.

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i think the film is a good idea. But Moore is showing his true colors by going to Cuba for this.

 

IMHO. The big problem here is that pharmaceutical companies have way too much power and the vast majority of Americans are uninsured.

No, 45 million Americans is not the majority. Is it a high number, sure, but nowhere close to a majority. I am unfortunately for the time being uninsured but thats ok with me. As soon as I graduate Ill get a job and viola health insurance. The American healthcare system is by far and away the best healthcare in the world. Where do all the leaders of countries get their serious surgeries done? America, just ask the Italian Prime Mininster who had open heart surgery in the US instead of a 'great' European healthcare system. There are Canadiens who cross the border for American healthcare over their 'free' healthcare. America has the best healthcare cause we pay for it. We pay for the best service, treatment and care. A BIG part of healthcare insurance is 'liability' insurance. If youre in Cuba and they 'mess' up in surgery or with a bad analysis, do you think you can sue the doctors for malpractice? Hell no. America is the only country where if you wrong someone they can sue you for damages and that goes for doctors too. In socialized medicare you dont have the right to sue for malpractice

 

Do insurance companies make too much money? Do doctors make too much money? Do pharmaceutical copmanies make to much money? Possibly but thats fine with me. The incentive to make money is what makes the medical care in the United States the best.

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"I would rather die in America than go to Cuba," said Joe Picurro, a Toms River, N.J., ironworker approached by the filmmaker via an e-mail that read, "Joe and Mike in Cuba."

 

A bit of an odd statement in my opinion. This man would rather die in America than set one foot on Cuban soil? interesting.

 

Maybe he'd rather die than be used as a propaganda tool by a communist government.

 

There's a vast difference between being "used as a propaganda tool by a communist government" and going Cuba. If you look at what he says, he would rather die than ever be in Cuba, for any reason. I'd understand if he it was a matter of him being exploited but dying rather than simply being in a country is pretty extreme.

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"I would rather die in America than go to Cuba," said Joe Picurro, a Toms River, N.J., ironworker approached by the filmmaker via an e-mail that read, "Joe and Mike in Cuba."

 

A bit of an odd statement in my opinion. This man would rather die in America than set one foot on Cuban soil? interesting.

 

Maybe he'd rather die than be used as a propaganda tool by a communist government.

 

There's a vast difference between being "used as a propaganda tool by a communist government" and going Cuba. If you look at what he says, he would rather die than ever be in Cuba, for any reason. I'd understand if he it was a matter of him being exploited but dying rather than simply being in a country is pretty extreme.

 

You are basically ignoring any context. He most was most assuredly speaking of that exact circumstance, not some random fishing trip.

 

i think the film is a good idea. But Moore is showing his true colors by going to Cuba for this.

 

IMHO. The big problem here is that pharmaceutical companies have way too much power and the vast majority of Americans are uninsured.

 

It is not even remotely a majority. 1 out of 6 Americans are uninsured, each of them is still protected under the law that requires emergency medical care. They only risk their credit by taking advantage of that care, and many of the uninsured already have poor credit. I can tell you from underwriting car loans, I never turned anyone down due to either medical bills or unpaid health-club memberships. I would sometimes add a fraction of a point to the interest rate, but that is about it.

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i think the film is a good idea. But Moore is showing his true colors by going to Cuba for this.

 

IMHO. The big problem here is that pharmaceutical companies have way too much power and the vast majority of Americans are uninsured.

No, 45 million Americans is not the majority. Is it a high number, sure, but nowhere close to a majority. I am unfortunately for the time being uninsured but thats ok with me. As soon as I graduate Ill get a job and viola health insurance. The American healthcare system is by far and away the best healthcare in the world. Where do all the leaders of countries get their serious surgeries done? America, just ask the Italian Prime Mininster who had open heart surgery in the US instead of a 'great' European healthcare system. There are Canadiens who cross the border for American healthcare over their 'free' healthcare. America has the best healthcare cause we pay for it. We pay for the best service, treatment and care. A BIG part of healthcare insurance is 'liability' insurance. If youre in Cuba and they 'mess' up in surgery or with a bad analysis, do you think you can sue the doctors for malpractice? Hell no. America is the only country where if you wrong someone they can sue you for damages and that goes for doctors too. In socialized medicare you dont have the right to sue for malpractice

 

Do insurance companies make too much money? Do doctors make too much money? Do pharmaceutical copmanies make to much money? Possibly but thats fine with me. The incentive to make money is what makes the medical care in the United States the best.

 

I'm not saying our system is bad or the best. But there are huge problems with it. Both of my parents are retired Doctors, so I have some background on the situation and understand liability insurance, etc.

 

I don't believe socialized medicine is the answer. But greed is driving the industry and that's a double-edged sword.

 

In addition, we are dropping the ball on prevention and education. Our nation is too dependent on drugs, etc.

 

btw, I stand corrected on the "vast majority" statement. That was the incorrect thing to say. But don't you think that basic healthcare should be accessible to all areas of the population?

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