Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare

A free community screening of the film, ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, will be held Sunday, March 3, 2013, at 3 p.m. at the Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa.

The event is sponsored by The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences, Capstone College of Nursing, School of Social Work, Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration and Office of Health Promotion and Wellness.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion to focus on health care issues and concerns and possible ways to improve the healthcare system. Panelists will include: Bryan Kindred, CEO of DCH Health System; Deborah Tucker, CEO of Whatley Health Services; Charles Morgan, senior executive vice president and general counsel of Phifer Inc.; Linda House Moncrief, benefits and wellness director for the city of Tuscaloosa; and Allen Perkins, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

“This is an opportunity to have an important dialog,” says Richard Streiffer, MD, dean of the College of Community Health Sciences and a family medicine physician. “Our goal is to begin to change the conversation in the community.”

ESCAPE FIRE is a feature-length documentary that examines the nation’s healthcare system. The movie was an official selection of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. According to the ESCAPE FIRE website, the film looks at “the powerful forces maintaining the status quo, a medical industry designed for quick fixes rather than prevention, for profit-driven care rather than patient-driven care. But the current battle over cost and access does not ultimately address the root of the problem: we have a disease-care system, not a healthcare system.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, much of healthcare spending in the United States goes to treating preventable diseases, for example heart disease, diabetes and cancers caused by obesity.

American healthcare costs overall are rising rapidly and could reach $4.2 trillion annually within a decade, roughly 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The average per capita cost of health care in the United States is $8,000, compared to $3,000 in the rest of the developed world, according to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

Still, the Institute for Medicine has found that 30 percent of healthcare costs in the United States, approximately $750 billion annually, are wasted and do not improve health.

“This documentary tackles the American healthcare system, a subject that carriers with it decades of debate and misconception,” say film directors Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke. They say much of the recent media attention has focused on the contentious passage of the Affordable Care Act and the debate about its impact “yet Americans are still unclear about what is broken and how best to move forward. ESCAPE FIRE seeks to explore possibilities to create a sustainable system for the future and to dispel misinformation in order to create a clear and comprehensive look at healthcare in America,” they added.

Heineman and Froemke say it is time to create “escape fires” in the nation’s healthcare system.

The University of Alabama sponsors of the ESCAPE FIRE film screening hope the event will be the start of a dialog about potential healthcare escape fires for Alabama.

 “We are all involved in training health professionals for the future,” Streiffer says. “We have the ability to change the conversation in a meaningful way.”