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A January 19 episode of BBC One's Panorama, the world's longest running television documentary show, tackles the dismal state of health care in the United States, the lengths to which its estimated 45 million uninsured citizens will go to in pursuit of care, the pharmaceutical industry's rigged pricing against the American patient, and the insurance industry's efforts to deny care whenever possible.
The documentary opens in rural Kentucky, where people have driven within a 200-mile radius to wait in line in the early morning for a spot in line to see a volunteer doctor thanks to the efforts of Remote Access Medical, who originally set out to help people in the Amazon jungle, but now focus 60% of their time on Americans.
"The need is enormous," said the organization's founder Stan Brock. "We discovered...there are people here that need help just as much as they do in Guatemala or in the Amazon and all these other places we go to."
President Obama faces a difficult task to deliver on his promises of change, the segment explains, the country divided between the "super rich" and the "new poor," and lobbyists putting their power to work to prevent reforms from taking place. Also, 533 members of Congress, out of 535, have received campaign contributions from within the health sector.
"We plan on mounting a national campaign," warned health insurance industry lobbyist Angela Hunter, "and what we hope to do is to, number one, get some articles in the newspaper explaining what the problems are that we see with the plan. Two: Educate lawmakers, people who are members of our organizations, their clients--to go and lobby members of Congress--call them on the phone, visit them in their offices, and to just do everything that we can possibly do to preserve the freedom of choice for individuals in health care in America."
"It's really a system of legalized bribery," said Richard Kirsch of Healthcare for America Now. "As one congressman says, we're the only people in the world who are expected to take money from strangers and provide nothing in return."
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