Health Policy Made Personal

Strange CatAlan and his wife Sala were through Portland recently. It was a too-brief visit, but was a chance to gather a few thoughts about this film. There are myriad stories to be told about Alan, many good possibilities for a movie. I think bits and pieces of all these themes will make it into the film, but we’ll need a much clearer focus to move ahead. And I think I am beginning to settle on one direction. Finally.

Alan Steinbach has straddled the divide between personal and policy, individual and population, humanistic and scientific. He is at once intuitive and analytic, marrying these seemingly opposed world views. This is alot of what makes him unique and special – and it is a major clue to how we’ll structure What’s Inside, Professor?

One of the dimensions here is very pragmatic: what will make this a film that we can sell. Not for profits (although the wherewithal to continue making movies is on the list of goods, to use the philosophy term). But to complete a documentary will be expensive. Casual Dog Productions can shoot and edit, even without money to hire a DP, a location sound mixer, an editor… But completing a polished documentary will entail clearances for music and stock footage, an on-line session, and so on. And, more to the point, a film that nobody sees isn’t much. A home movie. We aren’t out to make experimental or avant garde work here – we want an audience!

So what is relevant and interesting for a national (or even international) audience? Here is what I am thinking:

  • The United States is unique among Western democracies in that we don’t have health care for all.
  • Managed Care and related pressures have had a huge negative impact on the practice of health care, forcing shorter and shorter visits and disrupting the Marcus Welby-like personal dimension of the health care provider/patient relationship.
  • There has been a fair amount of media coverage of our health care crisis – both from a policy standpoint and from the vantage of individual patients’ stories. But much less from the individual practitioner’s point of view.
  • Alan Steinbach has lived a fascinating journey between the straight world and ’60s counterculture.
  • Alan, by all accounts, has forged through the juncture between macro- and micro-influences on health care, maintaining the most doctorly of practice styles.

Well, more at a later date!

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