"Article 99" is sort of a "M.A.S.H." about veteran's hospitals. Set in a Veterans' Administration hospital in Kansas City, it shows an overworked staff dealing with an inadequate budget, outmoded facilities, and a seemingly sub-human boss concerned only with his government career. Although many of its patients are decorated heroes, we see them shuttled from one ward to ward, as its dedicated young doctors try to save lives by outsmarting the bureaucracy. If the government won't pay for a heart bypass, for example, the doctors schedule prostate surgery and do the bypass unofficially.
Told by young intern Dr. Morgan (Sutherland), who plans to finish at that hospital before moving on to a lucrative private practice, the plot draws him into the circle of a staff rebel leader, Dr. Sturgess (Liotta), who stages midnight raids on supply rooms to steal unauthorized items like Pacemakers. Sturgess is in mortal combat with Dreyfoos (Mahoney), the inhuman administrator who cares much less for human lives than for his budget or for government regulations.
The message of "Article 99" unfortunately isn't new, and yet is still needed. Washington slashes VA hospitals' funds to the bone, and veterans promised lifetime medical care in return for risking their lives in battle are still treated as pawns, under federal policies that penalize the powerless. The movie, however, isn't the best vehicle for its urgent message, and "Article 99" seems too gimmicky story to leave the viewer somewhat entirely clear about its message.
Keifer Sutherland, Ray Liotta, Kathy Baker; John Mahoney, Forrest Whittaker
VA Hospitals; underfunded, M.A.S.H.
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