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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  June 17, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, june 17: a u.s. navy ship collides with a container ship off the coast off japan. mistrial in the bill cosby sexual assault trial. and, in our signature segment, obamacare in alabama. what happens when only one insurance company offers a plan? next, on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg.
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corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening, and thanks for joining us. seven american sailors remain unaccounted for, following a pre-dawn collision between their ship and a container ship off the coast of japan. it happened in clear weather, but under darkness, 65 miles southwest of yokosuka, when the guided missile destroyer u.s.s. "fitzgerald" collided with a commercial container ship four times its size. the navy says the fitzgerald suffered significant damage on its right side, including the section where some of the 270-member crew had been asleep.
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the navy pumped out water that flooded the ship, and along with the japanese coast guard, scoured the pacific for the missing sailors. the navy said the missing sailors could have been trapped inside the fitzgerald. the navy airlifted two other sailors and the ship's captain to a hospital for medical treatment. the fitzgerald was later towed back to its base at yokosuka. the damaged, filipino-flagged container ship has arrived in tokyo. none of its crew was injured. the u.s. military says seven american soldiers were wounded today when afghan soldiers fired on them at an afghan army base in the northern city of mazar-i- sharif. in return fire, one of the attackers was killed, and another, wounded. this is the second so-called insider attack in the past week. an afghan soldier killed three americans in eastern nangarhar province last saturday. london police say the number of people presumed dead from wednesday's massive fire in a 24-floor apartment building has risen to 58, but it could take weeks to recover and identify all the victims. today, british prime minister
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theresa may met with 15 survivors and emergency responders to the fire, even as up to 2,000 protesters gathered outside 10 downing street, some saying her government's response has been lacking. may has announced a $6 million the pennsylvania judge in the bill cosby sexual assault trial declared a mistrial today, after the hung jury said it could not reach a unanimous verdict following six days of deliberations. cosby had no comment as he left the courthouse, and remains free on $1 million bail. he did not testify in his own defense. district attorney kevin steele said he'll re-try the 79-year- old actor and comedian, though it's unclear when a new trial could begin. the jury deadlocked on charges that cosby drugged and molested temple university employee andrea constand at his home in 2004. 18 people were arrested in protests last night following the acquittal of jeronimo yanez, the minnesota police officer who shot and killed motorist philando castile during a traffic stop last july.
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approximately 2,000 protesters marched down the streets of saint paul. the arrests came when they blocked traffic on interstate 94. during the trial, yanez testified he had feared for his life when he shot castile five times, after castile had alerted him he was carrying a gun, with a permit to do so. the case gained national attention when castile's girlfriend, who was in the car along with her daughter, live- streamed the aftermath of the incident on facebook. despite the acquittal, the city of saint anthony fired yanez yesterday. >> sreenivasan: this week, the trump administration signed a $12 billion deal to sell the persian gulf nation of qatar three dozen f-15 fighter jets made by boeing. the deal comes a week after president trump labeled qatar a "funder of terrorism" in the middle east. for that reason, saudi arabia, egypt, and other arab nations have severed diplomatic ties with qatar and imposed an economic boycott. yet, qatar has also been a key u.s. ally, with the largest u.s. military base in the region,
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hosting 10,000 troops. for more, i am joined from washington by "wall street journal" reporter jay solomon. jay, i'm a little confused by my own comments here. are they, on the one hand, fund of terrorism at the highest levels, as the president said, or are we selling them fighter jets? >> i mean, it's a very complicated situation for sure. you have the airbase, which is the main staging ground for u.s. airstrikes against islamic state in syria and iraq. you have huge exxon business interests in qatar. you've had a lot of counter-trump cooperation. but at the same time, there has been concern going back years that there is money coming from qatar that has reached al qaeda elements, that since the arab spring, they've supported factions that are aligned with al qaeda elements. and even back to the bush administration, a lot of concern that al jazeera, its main source
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of soft power stirs up anti-heav american sentiment at times, or stirs up sentiment against qatar's neighbors in saudi arabia and the u.a.e. so it's very much a conflicted picture. >> sreenivasan: so this week, it seems those conversations have moved to washington, d.c. the sides are lobbying. >> it's amazing. every one of these governments-- saudi arabia, the u.a.e., qatar-- have flooded the zone, as some say, into washington to meet secretary tillerson, secretary mattis, meet press. and these countries have so much influence in washington through investments and think tanks, through lobbying firms, just through their business and defense contracts that it's-- it's a very much a conflict that's playing out here, as much as it is in the gulf. and each side has real equities that they bring, and i think that's part of the reason you've seen such mixed messages from the trump administration. and i also think they're here because they don't really know
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what the trump position is because he's said things that on the surface appear at odds with his secretary of state, and his defense secretary. >> sreenivasan: so the secretary of state has tried to kind of calm the temperature down. but then the president says what he says. >> secretary tillerson has been working the phones aggressively over the past week and meeting with foreign ministers from these countries, basically saying this economic siege being pushed on qatar should be eased. and there's a concern that counter-isis operations could be impacted if this feud doesn't end. so he's very much pushed that line backed by secretary tillerson. the problem is, president trump, on his tweets and in public comments, has seemed to side with saudi arabia and want u.a.e. against qatar saying, you know, this high-level support of terrorism that has been allegedly seen. >> sreenivasan: has this broken the gulf alliance, created an opportunity for iran.
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we reported they were one of the first people that sent food eight aide to qatar. what's happening with that? >> no, i think definitely. president trump when he went to saudi arabia has basically been trying to create this bloc of gulf arab states against isis, but also against iran. and iran's loving the fact that there's this feud. and a lot of these countries, whether it's qatar, bahrain, the u.a.e.-- i mean, they're pretty vulnerable to iran. and this hope of not just the trump administration but the obama administration, as well, that they could create a bloc against these six countries in that region against iran, these very visible fissures play to iran's advantage. they are playing a very astute diplomatic game, because this plays into their hands. >> sreenivasan: "wall street journal's" jay solomon. thank you. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: former president
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obama's affordable care act mandated that all americans obtain health insurance and created exchanges to help the uninsured acquire a plan. but after only a few years, big insurers like aetna, anthem, and united health have quit the exchanges. this year, only 57% of obamacare enrollees had a choice of three or more insurers, down from 85% last year. in five states, enrollees now have only one choice. in tonight's signature segment, newshour weekend's christopher booker visited one of those states, alabama, to assess the impact. >> chocolate sauce or caramel sauce, whichever you want. >> reporter: of all the things sisters caitlin lyon and michelle novosel had to consider before they opened their chocolate store in huntsville, alabama, healthcare carried particular weight. caitlin would be giving up a full-time government contracting job with good benefits. >> that was one of the huge considerations in leaving that job, was, not only, you know, was i going to make less money, but suddenly the whole landscape for insurance was changing. i have to have insurance.
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i have several chronic illnesses that i have to have lab work every couple of months. and i see, like, three different specialists every three to six months. >> reporter: as their store, pizzelle's confections, opened in 2013, obamacare became an option. they shopped for a plan on the federal insurance marketplace, established as part of the affordable care act. the sisters were among the 98,000 people in alabama who signed up. caitlin opted to enroll with blue cross blue shield, michelle with humana. >> it was, you know, a little bit of a headache to begin with. but i got a good subsidy. it turned out to be really good at the beginning. >> reporter: like 81% of obamacare enrollees nationwide, the cost of their plans was offset by federal government subsides determined by their income. as recently as last year, alabama residents enrolled in obamacare had three providers to choose from: humana, united healthcare and blue cross blue shield. but this year, only blue cross remained, and it already controlled more than 90% of alabama's private insurance market. both united healthcare and
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humana cited the high costs of individuals enrolled in the marketplace as the reason for their departure. >> that's when everyone saw that huge jump in premiums, and that's when everyone kind of got scared, as to, are we going to have health insurance? are we not? >> reporter: blue cross declined our request for an interview, but in a previous statement, said rising premium costs are in response to the greater use of medical services and diminished health of obamacare enrollees. this year, premiums increased by an average of 39%. for michelle, who had been with humana, having to switch to a blue cross plan meant her monthly premium rose slightly from $157 to $167 a month. caitlin, who was already on blue cross, was facing a much steeper increase. she says the plan that covered her and her husband went from about $800 to $1,200 a month. >> it was more than our mortgage payment, and there was no way to fit that into our budget. i don't know a lot of people who have an extra $1,200 a month to
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spend on just the premium. that doesn't even count any of the co-pays and the rest of it that you're going to pay when you see the doctor. >> reporter: alabama is one of five states now with a single insurance provider through obamacare. and like alabama, blue cross blue shield is each state's only provider. since the beginning of the affordable care act, subsidies from the federal government have played a role in the cost of insurance plans. determined by individual or household income, it helps offset monthly premiums. so, as caitlin and michelle's income rose, the level of their subsidy declined. alabama hospital association president don williamson led the state's department of public health as the affordable care act took effect. what does healthcare look like in alabama within the public exchange market? >> blue cross has been our dominant insurance for an awfully long time. where it really comes into play is when you look at what the premiums and what the subsidies are. for alabama, we now have 178,000 people on our exchange.
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of those 178,000, 90-plus- percent of them get a subsidy in the marketplace, and that's extraordinarily important. >> reporter: williamson says the obamacare subsidies have kept pace with the rise in premiums. the average out of pocket cost per enrollee in alabama is now $111 a month. >> for the 90% that are getting a subsidy, the fact that our premium cost is higher is really not a particular issue. where it becomes an issue is for that 10% that don't get a subsidy. >> reporter: leaving people like caitlin lyon feeling the squeeze. the subsidy is the only way peach farmer hank adcock can afford obamacare. we visited adcock one evening on his birmingham-area farm, started by his grandfather. the 62-year-old had never had health insurance before obamacare. >> we couldn't afford it. for me and my wife, it was like $1,600 a month. >> reporter: but with the government subsidy, insurance for him and his wife costs them under $200 a month.
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>> it's this wonderful thing that, to know that if something major happens to me, i can go to the hospital, they can work on me and fix, you know, try to fix me. >> reporter: something major did happen to adcock a few months after enrolling. his hand got stuck in a hay baler, cutting off two of his fingers. the medevac helicopter and hospital bill was $111,000. but his insurance plan covered it. >> i was insured. if i hadn't, i mean, i'd have lost the farm. i couldn't have paid the bills, you know. i don't know what they would've done. i can't complain about blue cross blue shield. you can't beat it. >> reporter: adcock also represents another complicated piece of alabama's insurance puzzle-- the state's decision to not expand medicaid during the adoption of the affordable care act. alabama is one of 19 states that rejected the medicaid expansion. how much do think alabama's decision to not expand medicaid has influenced the current playing field? >> what you've done is, you've now put people on the exchange in alabama who, in a state that
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expanded medicaid, would not be on the exchange. and to the extent that, because they have a lower income, and they may have higher underlying conditions, you've created a less healthy pool over which you have to spread risk, which may contribute to some of the higher premiums. >> reporter: and those that have neither obamacare nor medicaid directly affect alabama's hospitals. david spillers is c.e.o. of the huntsville hospital health system, which runs several different hospitals across northern alabama. from the hospital's perspective, were you distressed when alabama decided not to expand medicaid? >> clearly, i was disappointed. the block of people who would have qualified for some type of insurance under the expansion is a large number of people in the state of alabama. those people having insurance would significantly help providers like us who are providing healthcare but not getting paid for it. >> reporter: how much of a hit was that for the hospital? >> well, it, the hit was-- last
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year, our cost of free care was about $65 million. now, not all of that would've been covered, had we expanded medicaid. but a portion of that would've been covered. i mean, every, every bit helps. >> reporter: there's long been a discussion that if the number of insurers were to increase, costs could come down. do you think that's a fair assessment? >> i don't think that having two or three more insurance companies in the state of alabama is immediately going to change the landscape. and the reason is, blue cross of alabama is so large, and they negotiate rates so low with us, it's hard for us to go give those rates to somebody else. >> reporter: sonja smith helps residents sign up for obamacare as a project coordinator for ving a single insurer on the public exchange has not drastically changed the insurance marketplace. >> i never heard anyone say, "oh, i wish i had more options." having a limited number of plans, we actually found it easier, because we were better able to do a side-by-side
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comparison for people, for them to really see, "okay, well, this is what works for me and this is what doesn't." >> reporter: do you think that if there were more options, if there were more plans, because there were more insurers, that the prices would, would come down? >> i really can't necessarily say that it would make that much of a difference. >> reporter: in the end, caitlin and michelle found work-arounds. michelle, a newlywed as of this past month, is now on her husband's plan, offered through his employer. meanwhile, caitlin purchased a group plan with two employees, bringing her and her husband's monthly premium down to $645 a month. >> reporter: i feel like your story encapsulates healthcare in america. you've got a growing small business, and this headwind that affordable care and insurance has put on you is tremendous. >> healthcare seems overly complicated in the united states right now. it's not okay that people should have to make decisions about jobs, or their business, or these big decisions, based on
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whether or not they're going to be able to afford to go to the doctor. many of our employees, most of them get subsidies through the marketplace, because it's a better deal even than getting a group rate through our business. and these are real people with real problems, who have to think about insurance, like, every day. >> sreenivasan: a 12-person canoe paddled home to hawaii today after a three-year trip around the world. read more at www.pbs.org/newshour. >> sreenivasan: truck drivers are a crucial link in the supply chain of getting imported goods from ports to stores. an investigative report by "usa today" shows those drivers work long hours for low pay, all while being heavily in debt from leasing their trucks. the story, "rigged," published yesterday, recounts how at least 140 truck companies in southern california have been accused of labor violations, and forcing truckers into working conditions
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akin to indentured servitude. the article's author, brett murphy, joins me from naples, florida to discuss this. tell us what's happening to these truckers? >> well, the companies found a loophole in the labor law. by calling these guys independent contractors instead of employees, no real rules apply. they can kind of do whatever they want-- or they think they can. so what they've been able to do was sort of find a large population of truck drivers, mostly immigrants, about 16,000 immigrant drivers. and when the state told these companies that they had to use newer, cleaner trucks, instead of paying for it themselves, they came up with this idea of lease-to-own contracts, lease-to-own agreements. and when the drivers came into work one day, just like they had been for decades, the company said, "if you want to keep your job here, if you want to keep driving, you need to sign this contract." they didn't translate it. they didn't explain it. and the guys thought that they would just be getting a new
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truck after five or seven years, and if they worked hard, they'd get good pay, just like they'd always had. >> sreenivasan: so there's nothing wrong inherently with the lease-to-own model. because they owe money to their boss every week, the companies use that as sort of a constant threat of punishment or retaliation. so, for instance, if they don't want to work 14 or 16 hours, the boss might say, "well, then, you can't work tomorrow." so they use it as a control to make them work around the clock. we are looking at guys doing 100 hours a week, 120 hours a week. and even if the pay is so bad they're taking home pennies on the hour, they have no choice but to say yes. if they fall behind, for instance, on a week, the debt carries over to the next week. and they can actually owe their boss money come friday. and we saw cases where guys would come home after double shifts-- 16, 18 hours a day-- they would try to go home, you know, back to their families, they were tired. and the boss would actually lock the gates to the parking lot and say, "no, you need to go back.
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you need to go back on to the road and deliver more containers." so they're constantly in these situations where they have really no agency or options. they can't take the truck and go work for somebody else. they're really tied to it. their whole investment gets tied up into this truck. they went bankrupt, houses got foreclosed on, all because they were pouring their life savings into this thing that they really never qualified for to begin with. they didn't have the creditworthiness. that's what the companies knew when they were drawing up the agreements, and that's why they stepped in to kind of be the middle man. >> sreenivasan: when you say working double shifts and working 120 hours a week sometimes, aren't there rules in the trucking industry that prevent truckers from working too many hours so that they're still alert behind the wheel? >> exactly, yeah. a driver is only supposed to be driving for 11 hours in a single day. we're looking at guys who are almost doing double that. and what they're doing is they cook their log books. they doctor their manifests. and a lot of the companies not only know that their drivers are
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doing that, but they require it. we found instances of dispatchers withholding paychecks until drivers doctored their log books. we had managers who were actually showing them how to do it every friday. and it's really illegal, and it's really dangerous. >> sreenivasan: all right, so the goods that are being transported by these trucks are making their way into most of the stores that we're familiar with and we shop at. when you ask those stores whether they knew this was happening and how these goods get to their shelves, what do they say? >> because they don't hire these guys directly-- they often hire shipping companies, or logistics companies that handle all this-- they didn't really want to comment. they didn't think it was their place, which is, of course, an argument they tried using in the past with a lot of their factories overseas. but what they were saying, really, was that we expect all of our vendors and contractors to adhere to the laws. we have our code of ethics. we want everyone to follow it. but as far as, you know, what i heard, a lot of the times, this was news to them. and, therefore, they didn't think they really were in a place to comment on it. >> sreenivasan: all right, brett murphy of the "usa today."
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the story is online right now. thanks so much. >> hey, thank you. >> this is pbs newshour weekend, saturday. >> sreenivasan: returning to the mistrial in the sexual assault trial of bill cosby, "washington post" reporter manuel roig- franzia joins me from philadelphia. how did the defense teem do it? >> the defense team really did it through cross-examination. they pounded on the inconsistencies in andrea constand's statements she made to police, the dates that she got wrong and then had to later correct. and the scenarios that started out one way when she talked to police and ended up another. >> sreenivasan: this was also interesting who was not there. bill cosby did not testify in his own defense and there are other people who have accused cosby in the past that were in the stand but did not testify. >> the prosecutor wanted to have 13 previous accusers of bill cosby to take the stand in this
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case. that might have had the effect of really flooding the zone, telling the jury that even if you have some questions about andrea constand's statements, that there's just such an overwhelming number of other women, that you just would have to believe her. instead the judge only allowed one other previous accusers. and at the end of the day that might have had some effect in giving the uncertainty to the jury that led them to this mistrial. >> sreenivasan: one of cosby's spokesmen came out kind of jubilantly and said his reputation is back. but he's not out of the woods yet. >> no, he's absolutely not out of the woods. the prosecutor, kevin steele, district attorney in montgomery county, pennsylvania, without hesitation said that he's going to retry this case. and i looked over at the defense table. i was just a few steps away, and there's bill cosby by himself, hands on his face, "looking down at the ground. at that moment i thought this is a man who is completely alone.
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>> manuel roig-franzia of the "washington post," thanks so much for joining us. >> my pleasure. >> sreenivasan: finally, the trumps are spending their first night at camp david. the president, first lady, and their son, barron, took off for the 125-acre, navy-run retreat in the maryland mountains this morning. mr. trump is the 14th president, starting with f.d.r., to visit camp david, which has tennis courts, a pool, a bowling alley, a movie theater, and a single golf hole. this comes amid criticism over the cost of his frequent weekend visits, at increased taxpayer expense, to trump properties in florida, new jersey, and virginia. that's all for this edition on pbs newshour weekend. i'm hari sreenivasan. thanks for watching. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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>> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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