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tv   To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe  PBS  September 25, 2010 11:00am-11:30am PST

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>> funding for "to the contrary" provided by: >> the new 2011 lexus is. it isn't real performance unless it's wielded with precision. >> the life technologies foundation is proud to support "to the contrary" on pbs. our foundation seeks to advance science education and to further society's understanding of the life sciences including the impact of genomics on the practice of medicine. >> and by: sam's club, committed to small business. and the spirit of the entrepreneur. and proud to support pbs's "to the contrary" with bonnie erbe. additional funding provided by: the colcom foundation the charles a. frueauff
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foundation and by the sanofi aventis foundation. >> this week on "to the contrary" health and human services kathleen sebelius explains changes in the health care law that took effect this week. behind the headlines: actress meryl streep says women need to keep pushing the boulder up the hill. welcome to "to the contrary," a discussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. up first: obama cabinet member kathleen sebelius. as the nation's highest-ranking health official, secretary sebelius played a key role in
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the passing landmark health care reform. this week marks six months since president obama signed the bill into law and some of the law's new policies now start taking effect. democrats are using these changes to try to get out their base out to the polls in november. >> any young adult under 26 can be added to a family plan as long as he or she doesn't have employer-based coverage. this year preventive care begins being offered with no co-pays and deductibles so kids' immunizations and cancer screenings, we think it is really good for people to get preventive care up front and not pay for the disease in the long run. this year small employers get a tax credit for covering their employees and that will carry on. this year seniors get a $250 check to help close the doughnut hole. next year, they'll have a 50% discount in the cost of the
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drugs and that gradually goes up. >> what is the toughest mart companies don't put more costs on the employee or what is it? >> what the president knew and what members of congress who were supportive knew from the beginning is that we really have to tackle quality costs and access all at the same time. a lot of work on some of the prevention and wellness issues that are going to be very critical to lower the health care costs in the long run; fewer smokers, getting a handle on diabetes, getting a handle on obesity which is really a national health crisis in this country. so those efforts are beginning. funding the future workforce so that we have more primary care providers; and not only doctors in primary care, but nurses and nurse practitioners and mental health techs, building new
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community health centers. so there's a lot going on right away all at the same time. >> you fired a warning shot i think it was earlier this summer in june or so to employers not to move costs to employees as but do you have power to stop them from doing that? >> first of all, we are going to put some extra resources out for state insurance commissioners. i was a state insurance commissioner. i did that job for years. i worked in this area. the first line of regulatory oversight is those folks on the ground in states across the country. but many of them don't have the statutory tools that they need to do the broad overview. a lot don't have the technical support. you need actuaries to look at cost trends. you need analysts. so part of this bill provides resources to the states saying,
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oversight make it more transparent; put information out for consume. but i think, bonnie, that is the second piece of the puzzle is there is a real power for transparency. there is a great new website, easy to use, people can, for the first time, see all of the private programs available to them and all of the public programs. and this fall we're going to add cost information. there is a notion that the companies abuse their customers, if they're rate increases are excessive, there are a couple of tools, there's a medical loss ratio which begins nebs year. so 80-85% depending on the market, of the health dollar needs to be spent on health costs, not on overhead, not on profits and if not, there is a rebate to consumers. >> the fact that the bush administration dealt with prescription drugs, does that
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make it easier for you? not just for congress to pass but for you to implement this program because prescription drugs are a huge part of how diseases are cured in american medicine today. >> well there's no question that having part b of the medicare program was a big step. the problem with the bill was that it was written with a fatal flaw i would say in the so-called doughnut hole so the seniors who used the most drugs actually hit a wall; run out of insurance coverage when they needed it most and then have to pay 100% out of pocket. so part of this health bill fixes this doughnut hole over time and eliminates the gap. the second part of the flawed legislation in the 90's was that they didn't pay for it.
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this bill is done very differently. congress in fact said that we need to pay for the expansion of coverage, we need to pay for the investment in primary care, and we need to pay for this as we go forward. the bill will not add to the deficit, but all of the accountants who have looked at the bill said it actually reduces the deficit by $110 billion dollars over the course of the next 20 years. that's a big deficit reduction. >> one of the changes that took effect this week requires health insurers to cover children with pre-existing conditions. in response, several of the nation's largest insurers announced they would stop issuing child-only policies. they argue health care reform will make the market unstable and unprofitable. child-only policies comprise less than 10% of single-coverage plans with between 100,000 and 700,000 children covered by them.
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insurers say the only way to balance the government's mandate and remain profitable is by requiring all americans buy coverage but that part of the law does not take effect until 2014. meanwhile, parents with young children in the affected states will have to go back to buying more expensive family coverage plans. >> will the fact that these insurance companies have now started dropping child-only plans in response to the changes that health care reform made boomerang on democrats at the polls in november? >> no. the problem for democrats in health care bill is that the a least democrats from republic leaning districts are hard to run on bill whose does not click in for several years. >> on the health care passage the majority of americans were against that bill, six months later a higher majority of
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americans are against that bill. that's because they see the facts and figures, trillion dollar price tag, concerned about reduction in quality and increase in cost and individual mandate which some think is unconstitutional. >> i think this is a tragedy. health care reform was a major victory not only for obama and the american people. the republicans are doing such a good job in a hostile environment, the fact that people are not celebrating the opportunities that are going to be ahead. they're complicated of piecemeal aspect is a tragedy. >> i still think that the economy is going to be the biggest problem. >> health care will weigh on people's finances. they don't know how it's going to work out. >> but first of all we all agree that the number one issue is economy, economy, economy. we were able to get this interview with hhs secretary sebelius we wanted to end the first changes went in to affect this week. we want to stick to the -- stick to the health care reform.
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but congresswoman norton, you were part of it, isn't it foreseeable that every time a government puts a mandate it's going to cost more on health insurance companies, they're going to come back and raise rates? >> can you ever -- you know it's kind of like, fixing holes in a dam. can you ever fix the dam? >> what is foreseeable is insurance companies take advantage whenever they can. this bill has a lot in it. that -- now the problem with the child care part of it is one that i am not onesimo that at the time particular with. the reason this bill works is for the first time united states of america all of us are in the same pool. that reduces the cost of health care. what the insurers are saying, if you slice off this small, tiny but rather troublesome part and regardless of preexisting conditions, we have to in fact
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give them health care, we just don't know what that will cost. all i can tell saw that that reinforces, validates the way in which the health care bill is structured to include the largest pool possible, virtually 90-some% of the american people. >> president obama's own medicare and medicaid, it's going to cost much more money than was projected. it is absolutely irresponsible to say that this is a republican set up when over 35 democrats voted against the bill in house, that eleanor knows. congresswoman knows. i want patricia a to find me ten districts in the country where someone is running ad brag can that they helped pass health care reform, because it is part of the economy. people are outraged not just about jobs but really nervous about all the spending. health care of of the biggest ticket item. more than tarp which many
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people, including me, have a problem w. the bail out of detroit which were obscene. but it's another -- just another example when the government tries to get involved in a private sector. who can't find the way out of paper bag is going to have a superior plan to already just out in the market -- >> what other solution do you have? i am for universal health care access, i'm not totally in favor of the piecemeal approach because this is what's happening. you cannot sustain it politically. even though when you look at the whole picture, it's a great plan. eventually you will have all the pieces together, particularly after 2414. you have mandated care. in the meantime you have a political nightmare. i dot disagree with you that because it's a piecemeal approach is a political nightmare. >> you know, when we talk about how this impacts the economy, there is a piece of this that people are not thinking about.
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i happen to sit on the board of directors of a midge or corporation, we have about 100,000 employees. i just got a briefing on what this implementation is going to do to us in 2011 and 2014 as it becomes effective. the fact is, it's can go to cost literally millions of dollars to corporations not to provide health care, but to do the changes in their computer systems. to have the reporting of the w-2s that are required. to get information from employees. in our case we have a lot of unions, the employee, the unions are providers of health insurance we have tutwork out a system to get information from them. those millions of dollars are money that could be spent hiring people and expanding our businesses but instead -- >> in a sense you have -- paperwork, but somebody's got to run the computer, won't that create some jobs, some clerk jobs, some hi-tech computer networking jobs? >> you know, i suppose somebody out there is going to make
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money. doesn't mean that the company that is providing the health insurance to its employees is going to be. >> when you do a major reform like that, transactions costs. that's true. so, if you want to give health care to every american, there will be a period, it will be very limited where you have to change your computers and do other matters. but then, that's why this is all so troublesome. this whole thing needs to get in to place before anybody is going to say, see, i told you so. >> and i think the other part -- >> but why did congress phase it in like that because -- i mean from a political perspective, i not even going to be fully enforced until 2012. something that the democrats wanted to run -- want president obama wants to run on it in 2012 it's not there yet. >> we phase it in, because unlike my colleagues on the other side of this table, we insisted upon paying for our
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bill. the only way to pay for our bill was to save it -- phase it in gradually. had they done the same thing with prescription drugs, we wouldn't be carrying the this whole hole that they left dasher. >> was it something like $6700 or $480 that seniors have to pay -- >> pay when they hit the wall, yes. >> this health care bill is an assault on seniors and fall business owners? again, you have doctors pleading. it hurts seniors. politically stupid to that. it's obscene. small business owners, the people that i provide full health coverage for my employees here in washington d.c., they have eye, dental, comprehensive. they're going to be so much worse off once this kicks in, so much worse off. how am i going to coat with the
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big guys to attract and retain -- >> under 50 employees -- >> well, we're -- >> by law that -- >> i'm not wried about doctors or the insurance companies. they come off big. they're not enough doctors. i'm not worried about the insurance companies because they have whole new pool of people. we've had to put money in the bill to create more doctors and many of those doctors will take medicare patients because they are going to be primary care doctors. let me tell you another thing about the seniors, seniors now have to copay in order to get a wellness exam. to get a physical. this bill says seniors, look, you are like everybody ese, you get your wellness exam, you find out if -- >> like everybody else, there are real benefits to seniors in this. >> i have to tell you, absolutely right. she's right. it is impossible now if you --
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i'm getting to that age where i'm going to be medicare eligible and required to take medicare, you can't find doctors now in the washington d.c. metro area who will in fact take new medicare patients. and some of them are firing the patients they have on the books no my best friend -- >> primary care doctors -- >> the reality is -- is beyond the bill. there's been a whole transformation of the health care system, the hmos, the practitioners, you put it -- there's a major transformation. i would not blame the health care bill on that. >> lack of tort reform. you ask what the republicans wanted, go to see what the health care bill included. >> i find it so hard to be very serious issue that we have a solution that they will be providing care for children, that they will be protecting senior citizens. people are complaining about the paperwork. >> one of the major flaws is
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this bill had the worst of both worlds. you still have insurance tied to employers. as long as you do that i think it's going to be a bureaucratic nightmare and -- >> don't say that, because i am with you on that. but you will not find republicans or democrats willing to switch. >> that takes real political courage. you're right. there's no goo reason. no good practical policy to tie health care to your employer. >> we hope that will change over time. behind the headlines: a national women's history museum. a group of high-powered, politically-connected women have been trying to build a women's history museum on the national mall for about a decade-and-a-half. all they want from congress is permission to buy the last remaining tiny tract of land along the mall. the house has approved the purchase. the bill has been stalled in the senate for a year. the museum's spokesperson, academy-award-winning actress
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meryl streep keynoted a fundraising dinner for the museum in washington this week and we sat down to talk about the importance of a women's museum. in her remarks to the group she expressed her discontent with the male members of congress who are blocking the museum's progress. >> all we ask, i have to say, it really does rankle me, i don't mean to be bitter, and i am bitter -- it bothers me that we must kneel and beg our brother congress members, please let us build a museum to honor their own mothers and grandmothers. [applause] >> wall the women in congress support the purchase of the property. at market rate, made up of private donations and without any federal support. streep herself made a $1 million commitment to the project during her speech. afterwards, i asked her why she has embraced this cause. >> well, this is sort of where everything else flows from. it flows from the generosity of
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generations of women to the crown thee and in a way that hasn't really been chronicled. when i say, my history, i don't know the heros of my own history. i didn't really learn about it. now i notice in my kids' textbooks there's the history and then there's like a special window for a woman's achievements. like, and also, and introducing -- in a movie. but it seems necessary because these things were left out of the writing. and it's necessary for our sons and daughters, our own heritage. >> streep is a long-time advocate of the museum, which now exists only in virtual form. >> what motivated me really was
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admiration for women of my grandmother's generation. and the fact that my grandmother was a mother of three and she had to go to the golf course with the names of the people that should be on the school board and drag my grandfather off to make him go vote for her. because she was not allowed to vote. and when we look around the world and we see cultures that seem to disrespect women in this same way, we think, my god, aren't they primitive. well, that was us. in my lifetime, you know, i knew a woman who was not left to vote i think that rectified, correcting sort of the record. it's important and also it's enlivening for people to -- from other cultures to come to
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washington and be inspired by the actions of women that came before, inspiring the kids, inspiring everybody. >> only two anonymous male senators are blocking final passage of the bill to allow the museum supporters to buy the space along the mall. >> and their mothers should be ashamed of them. that's the way i feel about it. >> what does that say to you about the state of women in politics? >> it means you got to just keep pushing that boulder up the hill. all it will cost them is the caloric energy it takes to get their hands up in the air and say "aye"! >> it was incredible speech she gave. two guys putting ahold on this? why? what could be the possible motivation here? >> first you got to understand
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this congress, i'll bet bottom dollars they're not democrats. let me just -- i was original cosponsor of this bill, i am chair of the subcommittee had to carry the bill through subcommittee. there were some technical problems with this bill, if ever you want land from the federal government there will be technical problems. we worked them out in the house. it's been sitting over there forever and the senate and we can't find out why. i think we can't find out why because they don't dare. often we can finds out who they are and begin to bargain with them. i think it's part of the hold that republicans are putting on lots of bills. i think it can happen. if not in this session, in the lame duck session. but the women who were at the says, they need to come up and they can get this bill out much the senate. >> did she give you website so we can tell everybody to go to the website and -- go for this,
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justification was outstanding in terms of telling the history and the struggle of our grandparents, great grandmothers who had nothing, no rights whatsoever. >> i was in new mexico, actually, helping support the republican female who is running for the governorship there. they were celebrating, it was republican federation of women that were celebrating the 60th year anniversary of the women's right to vote. >> wait a second. 90th. it happened in 1920. >> 1920. you know, i'm about 30 years behind. seems like 30 years ago to me. so the 90th anniversary. at any point they did a little skit they talked about the one man in the house of representatives bark when the equal -- voting rights came up. the one guy who was holding out and vote was split 50-50 in the house of representatives. finally this young man who was
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one of the youngest members of congress was persuaded to vote because he got a letter from his mother. we need to get letters from the mothers of these guys in the senate. >> all right. i am sorry, but we are out of time. that's it. >> only secret left in washington these two guys, who they are. >> everything else is known. >> that's it for this edition of "to the contrary." next week: the top companies for working moms. please join us on the web for to the contrary extra. whether your views are in agreement or to the contrary, please join us next time. >> funding for "to the contrary" provided by: >> the new 2011 lexus is. it isn't real performance unless
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it's wielded with precision. >> the life technologies foundation is proud to support "to the contrary" on pbs. our foundation seeks to advance science education and to further society's understanding of the life sciences including the impact of genomics on the practice of medicine. >> and by: sam's club, committed to small business. and the spirit of the entrepreneur. and proud to support pbs's "to the contrary" with bonnie erbe. additional funding provided by: the colcom foundation the charles a. frueauff foundation and by the sanofi aventis foundation. for videotapes of "to the contrary", please contact federal news service at 1-888-343-1940.
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