During the making of Sicko, Michael learned about a group of volunteers who sifted through the wreckage at Ground Zero after September 11 to help find victims of the terrorist bombings. Five years later, they all suffer from various ailments after working in the rubble… and they don't have proper healthcare.
In his research, Michael learned that the alleged -alQaeda detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay receive better medical care than these local heroes. Michael got a boat and sailed to Cuba with some of the volunteers. When Michael and the volunteers were not able to land on the American soil at Gitmo, they went to Cuba. "We said, well, I'm in Cuba now with a bunch of sick people, what am I going to do? Let's see what kind of system they have here. It's free," Michael says. "And they got incredible care and help from the Cuban doctors that we took them to."
Now, Michael is being investigated by the U.S. Treasury Department for possible violations of the trade embargo restricting citizens from traveling to Cuba. However, the law states that journalists may travel to the country. "Well, this is a work of journalism and so it's not illegal, but they've come after me anyway for going down there," he says.
says he doesn't think the government is necessarily upset that he went to Cuba.
"It's about [the fact that] I am pointing out to millions of Americans something
that's very wrong with our system, that we have 50 million who are not insured.
We have 250 million who have insurance and need to worry about [whether] their
insurance is going to pay the big bills someday," he says. "We need healthcare
guaranteed for every American. Remove the profit from the system."