by Dana Offenbach


In 2006 Dana Offenbach's sister, Marla was struck by two maladies:  a very rare, deadly form of cancer and a not so rare condition of inadequate health insurance coverage.  Her courageous fight against cancer nearly broke my heart.  Marla, her husband and her 2 kids live a middle class life in the New York City area.  A blue collar family who drives to the beach for a vacation every year.  They have a car and a house.  The kids attend public school and have an Xbox.  They certainly weren’t prepared for the impending financial firestorm about to hit.  

As has been well established, America faces a healthcare crisis. Forty-seven million people have no health insurance, and millions more have inferior coverage. If you add those who are losing their jobs and thus their health insurance, a third of the nation is one act of fate away from preventable death, disability, or bankruptcy. 

USA in ICU follows the filmmaker, Dana, and three pivotal professionals as they explore and explain to the audience the problems with health care and what are the possible solutions: (i) a physician with a family practice whose cares more about his patients than about making money, (ii) a psychologist who became a lawyer to fight insurance companies to help people get their health care, and who now, in addition to struggling with managed care, teaches about health care at one of the nation’s top law schools, and (iii) a professor and an historian who understands the complex roots of the problem and can place the health care system in the societal context necessary to explain not only the problems but the solutions.

The film is an examination about what is broken in the system and what can be fixed.  It looks at alternatives, not only in providing health care to all but in making the system function as it should. 

These three professionals will form the focus of our film.  We will speak with them about their ideas and their experiences, about the patients the physician has treated and those the attorney has helped.  But we will also interview many others, patients who will speak about their struggles and critical thinkers speaking about their solutions. 

The film will purposely intertwine different styles of visual elements:  talking head documentary footage combined with frozen portrait like moments of victims.  We will utilize both color and black and white footage as punctuation marks to convey the urgent need for healthcare reform.


Join the conversation on Twitter: #nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts