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Aired Tuesday September 30th, 2008 at 8:00 pm on KUED HD Ch. 7.1
"As healthcare costs soar and insurance coverage moves out of reach for more and more Americans, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Roger Weisberg presents moving tales about a diverse group of people trying to negotiate a healthcare system that's unsympathetic and unresponsive to their needs." - San Jose Mercury News
Roger Weisberg's Critical Condition is a powerful, eye-opening look at the healthcare crisis in America. In an election season when healthcare reform has become one of the nation's most hotly debated issues, Critical Condition lays out the human consequences of an increasingly expensive and inaccessible system. Using the same cinéma vérité style he employed with "Waging a Living" (P.O.V., 2006), Weisberg allows ordinary hard-working Americans to tell their harrowing stories of battling critical illnesses without health insurance.
The four people profiled in Critical Condition live in places as diverse as Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; and Bethlehem, Penn., but they face distressingly similar obstacles to surviving without health insurance. It is through their eyes and words that we are taken through the gaping holes in the healthcare system, where care is often delayed or denied. Ultimately, the unforgettable subjects of Critical Condition discover that being uninsured can cost them their jobs, health, homes, savings, and even their lives.
Critical Condition has its broadcast premiere in a special PBS presentation Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008, at 8 p.m. on KUED-Channel 7. Immediately following the 90-minute broadcast, PBS's McNeil/Lehrer Productions will present a half-hour special, "Rx for Change," exploring the presidential candidates' proposals for healthcare reform. Susan Dentzer, health correspondent for The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, will moderate the discussion, which will include spokespersons for the candidates, as well as distinguished health policy experts.
Critical Condition dramatizes how healthcare is rationed, based on ability to pay. "It's your money or your life," says one of the film's subjects, who courageously lays bare the uncounted cost in pain and suffering that is borne by millions of uninsured Americans.
As the film illustrates, the country spends more than $2 trillion a year - over $6,000 per person - on healthcare, yet the U.S. is the only major industrial nation without universal coverage. Forty-seven million Americans live without health insurance, and 80 percent of them are from working families who either cannot afford insurance premiums or lose their insurance exactly when they need it most: when they fall ill and can no longer work.
Despite spending 50 percent more on healthcare than any other country in the world, America ranks 15th in preventable death, 24th in life expectancy, and 28th in infant mortality. The struggles of the four families profiled in Critical Condition put a human face on just what these statistics really mean for ordinary Americans.
The film's subjects:
"Many of my previous documentaries have taken viewers inside the nation's embattled health- care system," says director Weisberg. "In making Critical Condition, I wanted to build on my previous work, in order to contribute to this historically significant moment, when the nation considers how to extend health insurance coverage to all Americans. During just the 90-minute running time of this film, an additional 377 Americans will lose medical coverage. I hope Critical Condition will be a call to action as the healthcare reform debate heats up in 2008."
Join KUED for a free public screening and panel discussion of this powerful documentary Tuesday, September 16, at 7 p.m. at The City Library Auditorium, 240 East 400 South, Salt Lake City. A Spanish edition of the program will be shown Monday, September 8, at 7 p.m. at the Sorenson Unity Center, 1383 South 900 West, Salt Lake City.
Local underwriting of P.O.V. is provided by City Weekly, Cutrubus Automotive Team, and ESRR Vision Trust.
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