tv KQED Newsroom PBS August 20, 2016 2:00am-2:31am PDT
hello and become to kqed newsroom. i'm thuy vu. coming up on our program a closer look at proposition 61, a pat local measure aimed at lowering prescription drug prices. author josh le. ws explains why paternity leave is critical for business and society. wildfires have been raging across the state. a wildfire in lake county north of napa has displaced hundreds of residents and burned about 4,000 acres. this week governor jerry brown declared a state of emergency in southern california for a devastating the blaze that has sent more than 80,000 people fleeing their homes in san bernardino county. while wildfires in california are nothing new, experts warn they may be getting
more frequent skin tense. joining me to explain why is scott stevens, professor of fire science at uc berkeley, welcome. so far this year we've been hundreds of square miles of acreage burned in wildfires in california. how does this compare to previous years? >> southern california and central california are ahead. i think we've had a real dry period in southern california. el nino year, usually that means 150% precipitation in southern cal, this year they got about 75%. very dry. they really are ahead, they have really dry conditions. north of the golden gate we haven't had that many fires. as you alluded to there's a terrible fire in lake county. >> will things get worse as september and october roll around? that's when the santa ana winds kick in. >> that's right. we go into later into the season, we would expect worse conditions. especially in southern california. the santa anas come in october, november. really severe winds out of the east. that's our worst season. >> california has had five years of drought.
how does climate change exacerbate drought conditions and the fire danger that comes with that? >> it really increases the temperature so we do have drought like you mention. we've had droughts in the past but we don't have hot droughts as much as today. the hotness of the drought causes vegetation to dry faster, so it predispolicies the fuel bed to more flammability. >> what are we looking at, is in the new normal with all these intense fires occurring more frequently? there is in some ways especially the shrub lands. they turn eped socally and burn stand replacement. nose systems are predisposed to big fires. climate change is going to make that more difficult, more drought, more variability. the forests are a different condition. you can do some things to them to predispose them to reduce the potential for bad fire, bad fire effects. can't really do that in shrub lands. >> why can't you do that with chaparral, for example?
>> chaparral, you can't underburn it. you can do some treatments like chip and it do things like that. sometimes that has bad ecological consequences like nonnative plants increase. so when you try to do work with it, you can burn it and cause a mosaic of vegetation. but under severe conditions like santa anna, even the mosaic can be overdone bit wind. >> so from a forest management perspective, what can be done to reduce the impact of wildfires? >> what we need to do is restoration at scale. what that means is essentially trying to reduce the density of trees, reduce the density of shrubs. the surface fuel, the wood on the ground. we want to reduce it. we want to get it to a point when it does burn, we have a five-year drought, essentially maybe 70% of the forest survives. so actually the forest continues, evolves, all that goes on, instead of having these large mortality patches where we lose everything. we're going to work on the forests before the fire, before the drought, so we can set it up to be more resilient. >> and trees do have an incredible amount of survivability when it comes to fires. you brought an example of a tree.
show us what the rings on it demonstrate. >> sure. this is a ponderosa pine cross section from a piece of wood just outside of quincy, california, northern sierra nevada. what this shows is a sequence of injuries. the injuries are recorded for individual fires. so the fire comes and burns at the base of the tree and causes an injury, small lesion. the lesion is recorded in the tree ring. this particular tree has about 20 different fire scars. it survived 20 fires in its lifetime. the first around 1650. the last one around ape 50. >> what does this tell us about how we can do controlled burns? >> what that tells us is we go into the site, we start to manipulate them by burning or thinning or combinations of burning and thing. we're right inside the ecology of the organism. it's actually an organism that's really adapted to frequent disturbance so we can go in there five years, 15 years, work with it, reduce density, do some burning and we're inside the ecology of the ecosystem. >> is the u.s. forest service doing anything now to update its forest remanagement practices? >> they are. right now in the southern sierra nevada we're going through a
land management revision process. this hasn't happened since 1985. >> that long? >> 1985. climate change wasn't even on the radar then. now the inyo, sequoia, and sierra national forests are going through land management revision. they're thinking about resiliency, about climate change, about fire, and trying to come up with a way to manage forests. >> in your research you have said that that type of forestry management, they need to do it ten times, at ten times the level what they're doing now. is the plan they have in place good enough to achieve that? >> i think it is. the plan, i've looked at them, they're looking forward, thinking about managing lightning fire, remote areas to get more fire on the ground ecologically, thinking about restoration. you're right, ten times the current level is the back of the envelope calculation and sometimes people think, that's nuts. but if you don't change trajectory on these forests and build resiliency into them, integrate it, we're going to set
ourselves up for catastrophic outcomes in the the future. >> we've been seeing footage of the fires here and you have to feel for those families. the tens of thousands of families that have to evacuate because of wildfires. especially bad in lake county, they saw the same thing happen last year. how should land management strategy change to mitigate loss of life and property? >> that is a real challenge. the way we built in our environment frankly doesn't take fire into account. that's kind of a sad thing. we have housed disperses in ponderosa pine forests, chaparral. we can try to get people to revise their outside of their houses with flame-resistant materials. try to reduce vegetation near your home. try to make it less vulnerable to ember attack. embers come in from the wind and start small spot fires. the other thing in the future is better land management planning, land use planning, try to put houses in places that are less vulnerable to fire. so that is a real effort for the entire state. >> so what happens in 20, 30
years from now, if we don't do anything? >> i think what happens is we continue to chase our tail. and it gets worse. eventually we're going to have so many large first -- the rim, king, sierra nevada -- they begin to fragment our landscapes. that makes us nervous. wildlife habitat, all sorts of things. if we don't change trajectory in 30 years our kids and grandkids will have a different experience. forests will be fragmented. there will be forests. low density, shrubs, standing snags, less forest cover. it will be a different environment. but essentially we have to -- that's why i think we have 25, 30 years to begin that transformation. >> are you hopeful? that we can make that transformation? >> i'm very hopeful. because the research we have shows we can do it inside the ecology. we've shown that. others have shown it. i think forests soar important in this state. so important for water, wildlife, carbon, aesthetics. we can't led them go to the back, go negative. i am hopeful. i think the people of california and managers of california forests really want this to
happen. i'm hopeful it could happen. >> scott stevens, thank you for that explanation on wildfires and the science of it all. scott stevens, uc berkeley professor of fire science. on to politics. a look at a ballot measure that tackles prescription drug pricing. >> let's send the greedy drug companies and the rest of the country a loud message. no more profits over patients. >> look into the facts about the misleading state drug contracting initiative and you'll see that it's a problem masquerading as a solution. >> every year the state of california pays billions of dollars for prescription drugs for retired public employees, low-income residents on medi-cal, and prisoners. prop 61 aims to lower the price of those drugs. kqed senior editor for politics and government scott shafer has more. >> proposition 61 on the
november ballot would prevent state agencies from paying more for prescription drugs than what the u.s. department of veterans affairs pays. va is allowed to negotiate for lower prices on behalf of roughly 9 million veterans. joining me to discuss the pros and cons of prop 61 are roger salazar, spokesman for yes on proposition 61. and kathy fairbanks, spokeswoman for no. welcome to both of you. roger, you're in favor of this. how byte work? >> basically, it's very simple. all the measure does is simply tie the amount of money that the state of california pays for the prescription drugs that it purchases as a payee to the same price, to the lowest price of what the u.s. department of veterans affairs pays. this is a starting point. i think californians are tired of high drug prices. the price gouging going on by the drug industry. this is the first step in trying to rein in those prices. it's something the legislature
or congress has not done californians are taking this on themselves. >> you say it's simple yet the legislation analyst says it's not simple at all, there are a lot of aspects they're not sure how it's going to be implemented. >> i think some of the uncertainty is based on the threats that are coming from the drug industry. the drug industry is threatening to raise prices so therefore that creates uncertainty. the drug industry is threatening to pull out. these are things that are not in the measure but are threats we're hearing from the drug indust industry. >> based on the information va has to give and it's unclear whether the state can get that information? >> there's nothing under law that prevents va from showing what their prices are. in fact, we've done it through our freedom of information act requests. we've been able to do so. there's nothing in the law that prevents them from doing that. we think that anybody who says that you can't get it is simply not wanting to put in the effort and the work to do it. >> a huge amount of money has been raised to defeat this. $70 million, more than any other
ballot measure for or against. why do the drug companies feel so strongly? what is the threat exactly? >> well, there's a whole bunch of threats. you pointed to a few. it's not just the industry that's engaged, it's more than 130 other groups representing doctors, patient advocates, veterans, taxpayers, civil rights groups, business groups, labor unions. all are opposed to prop 61. because it is very complicated as you pointed out. >> but the vast majority of the money comes from drug companies -- >> that is true. that initiative would upend agreements that pharmaceutical manufacturers currently have with the various state health care programs, possibly with the va. it's a market shift. and it would require the industry to renegotiate a lot of those contracts and it threatens the relationships that some of the companies have with the state. the most important part though is the loss of these contracts. >> it threatens profits too for the drug companies, right? >> well, i don't know that i'd say that. i think it's more that this
changes the way the marketplace works. when you think about what the va program was created for, and roger's right, it is a program or it is a -- the va gets low prices for pharmaceutical drugs. it was created as a special program just for the va. it was never expected to be expanded to other agencies. >> why shouldn't it somebody how do consumers benefit when the government can't negotiate better prices as they do in other countries? u.s. is one of the few countries that can't do that. >> no, the state of california does negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers for drug prices. they negotiate very heavily. the department of health care services which oversees medi-cal fee for service, they negotiate very heavily. cal pers negotiates the department of general services which oversees for the prisons and local hospitals. >> the federal government for the affordable care act, for example, and the prescription drug expansion under president george w. bush, they're prohibited, the government is prohibited -- >> i don't know that that's the case. >> i believe it is. >> okay, well, it doesn't matter. this isn't going to affect the
federal government. it's not going to affect this program. it's going to affect californians. >> one of the claims your campaign makes is that if this occurs, and if these prices are linked to the va, that prices are going to go up for veterans. there's nothing in prop 61 that says that? >> that's correct, that's correct. but this program, the same type of thing extending va prices to other agency, was tried in the early 1990s called obra. prices to va went up, congress repealed the law because of that. >> why did they go up? basically you're saying the drug companies would raise prices on veterans? >> it could happen. we're not saying it will happen. all of this is as the lao pointed out a very complicated issue. and it depend on this the negotiations between the companies, the state, the va. one of the things we haven't touched on that the lao touched on was the fact that the va prices that prop 61 is linked to aren't even public. state law like prop 61, which is statutory initiatives, can't
override federal law. so it's not true that the prices could become public. >> some of that information is protected and there are exemptions to the freedom of information act. >> yeah, but we were able to determine what those prices were. >> no -- >> yes, we have. and again, i think what's interesting to me here, and look, we understand that the drug industry's going to be spending upwards of $70 million, some say up to $100 million, to try and defeat this initiative. it's not because they want to see lower drug prices. it's not because they're afraid not enough people are going be covered. they're afraid that this is going to basically start a tide from california all across the country -- >> there are also a lot of patient advocate groups, hiv groups, diabetes, they're concerned it's going to have a negative impact on them. >> a lot of it's -- there are a lot of -- the fearmongering, the fear that's being raised by the drug industry saying there are threats they're going to raise prices. also to be frank a lot of it has to do with the fact that a lot of these groups are beholden
financially to the drug industry. so i hear the arguments from the drug industry where they say, look, not enough people are covered and i think that's ludicrous. the drug industry arguing they're opposed to a drug relief measure because not enough people are being covered is like nra saying they don't like gun control because not enough guns are covered, it's ridiculous. >> a measure in the legislature that died this week to explain when the drug prices go up, the bill died in the assembly, and pharma opposed it. >> i'm not working for pharma -- >> but that's who's funding -- >> i can't speak to that bill, i didn't work on that bill. i can tell you that the supporters of that bill made it clear they intend to come back
next year and the year after that and the year after that and try to move another bill similarly through the legislature. i would argue that is where policy ought to be done. this is what's wrong with proposition 61. you've got one entity, the aids health care foundation, bankrolling the entire thing. they had their lawyer draft it in secret, didn't show it to anybody before it was put on the ballot. wasn't shared with prominent hiv groups, i know that. and you can't -- there's no opportunity to identify flaws like there is in the legislature. >> how would you advise -- how are you going to convince patient advocates and people who have diabetes and hiv and kidney disease who are concerned about this that they should vote are to it? >> again, we have to have a starting point from this. the examples that you just mentioned in the legislature where they couldn't even pass a transparency bill, how do we think we're going to be able to pass a drug pricing bill in the legislature if they can't even pass something that just deals with let us know what the costs are and how you come up with
your costs. one of the things we're going to be doing as we talk to voters, first of all, they're already with us. all the polling we've done shows that this has upwards of 70% approval from the voters. they are sick and tired of these high drug prices. if we can convince voters this is a start in lowering those drug prices, they're going to be with us. >> wouldn't you agree as a consumer at least drug prices are very expensive in many cases? gilead had a $1,000 a pill hepatitis "c" drug, for example. those things make a lot of news and fuel support for things like this, don't they? >> i think that's a very good argument to make for the yes on 61 side. certainly tap into people's concerns about higher health costs. the thing that we haven't heard yet is how will proposition 61 work in the real world, how will it lower drug prices? lao has acknowledged that the medi-cal fee for service, the state, the largest state program covered by prop 61 could face higher costs. not lower costs, higher costs.
>> that's because they're worried about the threats of the drug companies increasing the prices. >> no -- >> we believe that if we can have an impact at the beginning with just -- first of all, the state of california pays $4 billion for prescription drug prices. if we're able to get the same discounts we get from va, 24% discount, that saves the state about $1 billion a year. that kind of pressure, it's going to lead to other state agencies wanting it, it's going to lead to private entities wanting it, it's going to lower costs overall. >> we've got less than a minute. best argument for voting yes on prop 61? >> like i said, californians are sick and tired of high drug prices, they're tired of leaders not being able to do anything about it. here's an opportunity for californians to be able to take these matters into their own hands by voting yes on prop 61 and lowering drug prices. >> not going to lower dangerous costs in california, it could lead to reduced access to head sin for some patients especially in medi-cal program, could lead
to litigation against the state of california because there's no implementation language. it's overall bad for the state of california. >> voters have 80 days to figure it out for themselves. hopefully this will help get them asking questions and maybe give them some answers as well. kathy fairbanks, no on prop 61. roger salazar, yes on the measure. thank you very much. in this presidential election year, paid family leave has emerged as a top workplace issue in the runup to the democratic nomination, both hillary clinton and bernie sanders called for a federal program providing 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. and before he dropped out of the race republican senator marco rubio suggested tax credits as incentive for employers to offer paid leave. in general conversation, when people talk about such policies, they're usually referring to maternity leave. our next guest is working to change that. josh webb is the author of "all in" which focuses on how our work culture fails dads.
welcome to the program. >> thank you so much for having me, i'm glad to be here, let's talk. >> let's talk about how we are currently doing as society in addressing fatherhood in the national discussion over gender equity. >> oh, boy. terribly overall. but it's part of the same problem. when we talk about how america is the only developed nation that has no paid maternity leave, the flip side of that is that there are all these pressures on dads as well to not be caregivers. we have a sexist structure. we've built our work structure in this mad men era with a mad men way of thinking. women stay home with babies, men stay at work. when i explain is we have laws, policies and statements that are keeping it that way. the workplace has clampld we have this traditional structure that people are working in that has not changed. let's talk about the stigmas about men who take paternity leave. we reached out to viewers on facebook about this and it seemed to resonate with a lot of people. we had a number of men write in, including joey who says he got negative reactions from other
men about his paternity leave, in fact, one co-worker told him, six weeks, i quote, "six weeks, ha, i was back at work the next day." >> that's a good thing. right. so what we have are recurring statements that have not gone away in the american workplace. the strange thing is by far the vast majority of today's dads do value family over work. value family over money. unfortunately, the few who don't keep getting raised up the ranks in the workplace, and the reason is that we have this work culture that still is based on this idea that if you're a man, you should keep working, working, working. and women should then stay home. so these cultures are actually making it so that even when paternity leave is available, which is rare, the vast majority of it goes unused. part of the problem is making sure that the stigmas are no longer there, that people in the workplace aren't thinking that they're saying something great about themselves by saying, go me, i came right back to work. you should never take pride in turning down paternity leave. >> this is all happening at a time when more and more women
are breadwinners as well. you say that it is important for companies to embrace fatherhood. >> crucial. it's crucial. when you embrace fatherhood -- one of the things i talk about in this region is the importance of raising women up the ranks. something that the tech sector talks about a lot. in general in america there are few women leaders, very few women executives. the reason that is we have these sexist tours. what structures. we need to embrace modern fatherhood. make sure in the workplace that we have policies and culture that encourages men to also be ones to stay home, to get flexible schedules,o take care of their children. the more you do that, the more you'll have real gender equality in the workplace. >> what are the barriers? you made a point that even when the paternity leave policies exist, a lot of men choose not to take them. why, are there negative consequences? >> yes, absolutely. in my book, you wouldn't believe the things that happen. one guy took paternity leave in a horrible emergency situation mr. when he came back he was
demoted then fired. ultimately in a deposition his bosses admitted they had a traditional macho view. i had a legal situation in what i faced at cnn. my legal case involved the same idea. the workplace -- >> tell bus that. >> sure. >> how you got involved in this topic. >> sure. i was a reporter, npr, then cnn. cnn, i was a fact checker. i started covering fatherhood and doing segments on it. then i became the dad in the news. because there was this policy at cnn in which anyone could get ten paid weeks to care for their child, except a dad who got his own wife pregnant. who had a baby old-fashioned way. >> what were the men given? >> two paid weeks. >> that was it? >> if i gave my daughter up for adoption and someone else adopted her, he could get ten paid weeks. it's the idea a traditional dad couldn't an caregiver. >> you challenged it? >> i did. unfortunately ultimately they made the decision to change the policy, which was great, a lot of attention came from that. but when so much attention came to me and my family i became fascinated as a journalist. why are so many people interested in my story?
why are women's groups and men's groups and business leaders talking about this? i came to understand that we are all in this. everyone who wants real equality is starting to understand that yes, you have to focus on lifting women up the ranks but you have to make sure that you're also giving men the chance to be caregivers. >> you're in silicon valley a lot giving talks, you interviewed a number of silicon valley executives for your book. how does the area fare in comparison to the rest of the country on family leave policy? >> the good news is when i travel overseas, i talk about the bay area. the bay area in terms of the big tech giants starting to show that more parental leave, more paid family leave, that's gender neutral, is good for business. that is a fantastic sign. >> in san francisco recently, among the best policies in the nation, six weeks of fully paid time off. >> right, and it's interesting. because the state already has a model for paid family leave which is what we need especially, people pay into an insurance fund, it's not up to employers.
san francisco has called on employers to supplement. so it's 100% of pay during that time. but -- >> why do you think it's so hard to get a national policy on this? because san francisco's got one, california's got one that's more progressive. polls show a majority of americans support paid family leave. why is this so hard to get a national policy? >> it's proving good for business, and most independents, democrats and republicans want it. i've been on capitol hill. the challenge is getting brave republicans to do what the republican majority wants them to do which is support paid family leave. right now it's not on the radar of republicans. they're not so much against it as they are not focusing on it or thinking about it. what we need is true bipartisan consensus like you have here in california, new jersey, new york passed this. when we pass that we'll be helping families and businesses and we'll be increasing profits and growing the economy. so it's really a necessity. >> you talk about how much more progressive tech companies are than the rest of the country. but a lot of them are big and can afford this kind of stuff. what about the smaller
businesses? to give fully paid time off, 6 to 12 weeks, won't it hurt their bottom line? >> no. what i want is a system like what california has for the state. and that is where workers are paying into a fund through a payroll deduction. when they're off, they're paid through that fund, so the business doesn't have to pay them during that time. san francisco's new decision is unique. most of these are not going to do what san francisco did in telling employers that they have to supplement the rest of it. what we need nationally isn't a mandate on employers to pay people's salaries while they're off, it's to create an insurance fund that workers have this payroll deduction. when you need paid family heave to care for a child, elderly parent, sick spouse, or yourself, you get that. we know it's good for business. >> who does this hurt the most in the lack of national consent? even california's policy, it doesn't give you 100% pay for the time that you're off. it seems like if you're in a traditional blue collar or minimum wage job, these are people who have the least resources, who need this kind of
help the most. >> right, they are. and there are people in my book, including here in san francisco, who are at the lowest end of the economic spectrum. one of the biggest reasons we need a national paid family leave program as i lay out in the book is it will help people who are at the lowest end, anyone paying into social security, we also need to focus on things like transportation availability and living wages and making sure that there's affordable homes. all those things factor in. but when it comes to this, it's important to keep in mind, fathers and mothers are suffering and we can do better with these kinds of policies. josh le. ws, thanks for coming in, author of "all in." that does it for us. i'm thuy vu. thanks so much for watching. for all of kqed's news coverage, go to kqednews.org.