Today on CNN Newsroom

The latest news and information from around the world. Also connect with CNN through social media. We want to hear from you.
August 15th, 2009
04:55 AM ET

What We Are Working On This Morning...

There’s plenty of coffee brewing while writers, producers, segment producers, bookers and the production crew prepare for this morning’s show. Here’s what we are working on right now in the CNN newsroom: A developing story out of Afghanistan... While you were sleeping a massive explosion rocked Kabul killing at least three people and injuring dozens. We’ll tell you who may be behind the attack.

Plus, the hot button topic of health care reform. People on both sides of the issue want their voices heard. They will get their chance at one of the many town hall forums going on across the country today. We’ll tell you where they will be happening. Also, the CNN Truth Squad will try to get to the bottom of this question: Will health care legislation give the government access to your bank account? Find out what our Josh Levs learned.

Earlier this week President Obama named the Medal of Freedom recipients. It’s America’s highest civilian honor. Reverend Joseph Lowery and actress/singer Chita Rivera were among the many recipients. Our Betty Nguyen will speak live with them both later this morning around 10:15am ET/7:15am PT.

The new book “Family Affair: What it Means to be African American” is a compilation of thought provoking essays written by a variety of celebrities discussing topics such as family, culture, relationships, community and self. Our T.J. Holmes sat down with soap actress Victoria Rowell who authored one of the essays.

We'll have those stories and much more this morning. So start your Saturday with T.J. Holmes and Betty Nguyen in the CNN Newsroom at 6am ET/3am PT.

soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Michelle

    A person who participates in dog fighting does not turn a new leaf in such a short period of time. I am willing to bet my last penny, that he really doesn't get how wrong he was. He is only agreeing that it was wrong because the majority of the public feels this way. He needs therapy. I do not feel that he should be back in the public eye playing sports, but that is just opinion. I do not want children thinking you can do bad things and suffer no conquences. Children do not understand that someone "lost" everything, all they know is that he wasn't playing football and now he is again.

    August 15, 2009 at 6:17 am |
  2. Matt Laux

    I seriously doubt anyone at the Seattle Hempfest are smoking hemp(cannabis ruderalis), as that species of plant isn't going to get them high. Cannabis sativa or cannabis indica will probably be smoked, as they are what we refer to as "marijuana". The condescending-tone used when you refered to the Hempfest was not appreciated by this viewer.

    August 15, 2009 at 6:27 am |
  3. Beverly

    I'm am happy that Michael Vick is getting a fresh start. My best friends niece was killed by a drunk driver. The drunk driver received no time in jail. Let the Vick play

    August 15, 2009 at 7:35 am |
  4. Mitch Dworkin - Dallas, Texas

    I cannot tell if Michael Vick is being truly sincere by offering to help the Humane Society or if he just did and said the right things so that he could get back into the NFL and make millions of dollars.

    What I think that is important to remember is that playing football in the NFL is not a right that Vick is entitled to, it is a privilege that should have to be earned and deserved. Michael Vick in my very strong opinion has forfeited any opportunity of being able to play in the NFL again because of his criminal and inhumane behavior to animals!

    Just because Vick paid his debt to society in prison, that does NOT automatically mean that he should be rewarded for his inhumane behavior with a contract in the NFL that is worth millions of dollars which he could never get outside of playing in the NFL. He should still be working hourly jobs right now as far as I am concerned!

    If Michael Vick is truly sincere, then he would help the Humane Society out of conviction expecting nothing in return because it is something that he really wants to do. With Vick being allowed to play in the NFL again, there will always be some doubt that he is just using the Humane Society as a photo-op so he can make a lot more money in the NFL than he can by doing anything else right now!

    Michael Vick is very lucky that he did not serve much more time in prison for the horrible and inhumane crimes against life that he is guilty of. If I was able to pass judgment on Michael Vick, then he would think that Guantánamo Bay was a hotel resort in a very short period of time after I got through with him!

    I will never watch the Philadelphia Eagles ever again even if they are in the Superbowl and I will definitely boycott any products that the Philadelphia Eagles advertise along with their sponsors. I also hope that every Philadelphia Eagles game is so swarmed with protesters that the media pays more attention to the protesters than they do to the actual football game!

    My decision is absolutely firm and it will never change under any circumstances!

    Mitch Dworkin

    August 15, 2009 at 8:14 am |
  5. David Schneider

    Your comment to the Grand Junction Mayor of "that's interesting" was snide, rude and uncalled for. He is right to allow his constituents to ask the questions. You should apologize.

    August 15, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  6. Greg

    Dog's that are untrained in the wild are naturally agressive and will attack each other, and humans. I am not justifying it, but it is not as serious of a crime as people are making it seem. If you want to talk about cruelty wouldn't "spading" or neutering are just as cruel if not more cruel.

    August 15, 2009 at 8:42 am |
  7. Greg

    Spading or Neutering just as cruel as dog fighting.

    August 15, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  8. Pat

    Michael Vick did the time received. He needs a job to be a productive member of society. He knows football, what else would he do? Most of us (humans) don't have room for "stone throwing!"

    August 15, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  9. Joe Ann

    Michael Vick deserves another chance. He has served his time. If all information presented was true, he clearly did what we all did not like to the poor little dogs. All the stone casters should look at the beam in their eys and stop behaving like a bunch of "rabid" animals. Just wonder how many of the stone casters are living in sin out of wedlock, had a child out of marriage, etc.

    August 15, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  10. Cee Cee

    Regarding Michael Vick. He deserves another chance. It would not be fair to deny him the ability to generate an income in an industry where he once thrivedr. I think his comments were genuine and honest. It takes a real man to admit his mistakes. Many others have been given second chances, why can't he get one? Anyone judging him should take a close look in the mirror at themselves, and their own familes and acquaintances

    August 15, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  11. Charles Rucinski

    RE your interview with Dr. Madison in Grand Junction, CO–his closing statement was about the rest of the country getting the same level of health care that our Senators and Representitives get (at a comparable cost). Like everything else, they are so insulated from what the average American pays and gets in return for health coverage that they have no incentive to do better for the average citizen. We ought to challenge them to provide the average American with the same level of health care they receive at the same cost–that's the baseline they ought to start at.

    August 15, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  12. Dana

    TJ, on a more serious side concernig Mr. Vick, you have to see Americas History surrounding a black man in this country. A black was used as property and pictures reflect a man being carried as a pet by the neck.. This issue is not about a dog ring this is about the man. He was rich in their eyes and his life was worth something. As our history shows nobody cried out when balck men were being hung, put in tar, and feathered, barbecued and drowned to death. You did not hear a peep from animal rights groups or no one else for that matter. Actually people sent post cards to these public hanging events and people would take the train to see them. I seen the pictures from those times in many books. Yes he did wrong and paid his debt, but America has not paid theirs until they apologize for the many black men and women they treated such as the animals lost in the dog ring. Read the book " Least we not Forget" I say leave Mr. Vick alone and fine some else to advocate about; Under the constitution he is a free man.

    August 15, 2009 at 8:52 am |
  13. Tonya

    Why do we make it so easy for those who have fame and money to forget the crimes they have committed? Michael Vick should go to work at a animal hospital where dogs have been severely abused, or made to take care of the dogs he did abuse for one year and then return to football. I believe in second chances but these animals probably did not get a second chance.

    August 15, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  14. Bernard

    It is sad to say that a person here in america does not deserve the opportunity to be employed, after incarceration. All penal institution encourage parolees to become employed. Why is Michael Vick different? Is it because he can make millions? You could name others who make millions after coming out of prision.

    August 15, 2009 at 8:58 am |
  15. Chris Thorowgood

    Michael Vick has done his time. Michael Vick has apologized to his family, his friends, and his fans. Michael Vick seems very contrite and sincere. But, and this is important, I have never heard Michael Vick apologize to the animals or show any remorse for the way he treated the dogs who trusted him to take care of them, the ones he brutally tortured, maimed and killed. He's only sorry that he disappointed family, friends, and fans.

    August 15, 2009 at 8:59 am |
  16. Regina

    I am elated the Eagles have given Mike a 2nd chance. Everyone makes mistakes. The biggest mistake Mike made was hiring his team of attorneys. I could have represented him better. He should have hired T.I's attorney, worked with Peta and the Humane Society prior to his sentencing and I promise you he would never have gone to prison. Now moving forward, I wish him much success. He who has never sinned, cast the first stone. Everybody needs to keep their negative comments to themselves. I AM A FOREVER MIKE VICK FAN!! Can't wait to buy the jersey!!!

    August 15, 2009 at 9:00 am |
  17. Seba Krumholtz

    To Betty Nguyen,
    Thank you for giving Dr. Madison time to speak. At 8:30 am today his last point that Congress is not going to be "under the same plan" that they will eventually pass was misunderstood by you. He was saying that Congress as patients should be using the same plan they are endorsing not that there are different plans being endorsed by different segments of the government (which is true). Please have your producers feed the accurate info into your ear so important statements by interviewees do not get misinterpreted. By the way, our family adores you as a CNN anchor/moderator.
    Seba Krumholtz, M.D.

    August 15, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  18. bev dogchick

    Michael Vick was charged with bank rolling the dog fighters ring.
    He had the money, he paid the price.
    What happened to the guys that actually viciously killed these dogs
    Aren't you concerned about them, those goons are the ones we should be protesting and watching. They don't have anything to lose.

    That should be told as well. Michael Vick will never be in this spot again
    All Eyes are on him.

    He Gets It!

    August 15, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  19. ehubbard@gnt.net

    Betty. While you were interviewing the doctor from Grand Junction you ask him what his concerns were about the health care. You misunderstood his second comment and misrepresented what he said. He said something like this, "If the new health care is so good why aren't the congress under the same plan?" You interpreted his comment to say "yes the house and the senate should try to come up with one plan. His point was "If it is good enough for the common citizen why isn't it good enough for congress?"

    August 15, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  20. sean hamilton

    the health bill may not pay for illegals–but will the hospitals and physicians be allowed to deny these individuals care when they present to emergency room. physicians need to be allowed to have a tax deduction for all the uncompensated care they perform. hospitals and attorneys can write off the uncollected bills.
    also trial lawyers are trying to undo tort reform.

    August 15, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  21. Mike B.

    Regarding your coverage of the Grand Junction, CO Town Hall, I found Betty Nguyen's "editorial" treatment of the town's mayor inappropriate. It was perfectly correct for him to state that he intended no questions for President Obama, but instead would play the role of respectful and neutral host. I do not understand why Ms. Nguyen chose to find this so incredible that she felt it necessary to continually press the question. For someone who so recently extolled the virtues of Walter Cronkite's brand of journalism. she doesn't seem to have learned anything from him.

    August 15, 2009 at 9:36 am |
  22. Darrick B in Cincinnati, OH

    The Health Care debate is not focusing on the the right things. The current proposals are not addressing the issues responsible for rising insurance costs. We need to address real Health Care Reform and by that I mean "HEALTH" and "CARE" reform. It is not coincident that over the same period of rising health care costs, there was an almost comparable decline in health and quality of care. To lower the cost of insurance for ALL, we need to help make Americans healthier. This is the ONLY way to reform Health Care.

    I wrote the President a 10 page position paper on this topic. I'm not optimistic he's going to get a chance to read it, but if enough people see it, maybe we can focus our attentions on bringing real change to America.

    http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-314207

    August 15, 2009 at 9:42 am |
  23. ANNA OLSON

    Hi Tj,
    I am hoping that you can find this out for me.
    Ok President Obama is always talking about in his healthcare
    PREVENTIVE CARE. Now in California as of July 1 2009 has made it to where anyone over the age of 21 cannot be taken care of for Dental and for a eye Dr. The only time that Medicad in California will take care of an adult is in a Emergency only. How is this a PREVENTIVE CARE.
    Is this what is in the President's Plan as well.

    August 15, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  24. Dee

    6 million is a lot of money for a man who is still in his twenties, a felon with prison record, didn't finish college and has fathered several children out of wedlock.
    Shouldn't we Americans make sure that other felons are placed into jobs at above minimum wage when they are released? Maybe the recitivism rate would decrease.
    Instead, we pay first responders/firefighters, paramedics, and even teachers who have done the right thing in life only slightly above minimum wage. Where are our priorities? Or are we becoming ancient Romans and paying to see the gladiators?

    August 15, 2009 at 11:27 am |
  25. bj mincey

    Betty....that guy with the cap on at Obama's townhall meeting yesterday, why don't CNN find him. The camera was constandly on him shaking his head. Anyone can read his lips saying NO WAY in disagreement with Obama was saying. I would love to hear what he had to say. I'm for Health reform, but I still willing to listen to others.

    August 15, 2009 at 11:30 am |
  26. scotte Hampton VA

    Let's not forget that before Vick was charged dog fighting was a misdemeanor and was changed to a felony. He was charged by the Feds, not the state of Virginia. Was this done to make a high profile
    person an example and send a message to curb/stop dog fighting?
    They hung Vick, but dog fighting still is rampant as attested by the
    PETA/SPCA representative of Pennsylvia on your your newscast today. She stated 80% of dog fighting cases are pit bulls and she/we
    know what kind of people/culture participate n this illegial activity. I would like to know what people/culture was she reffering to and has
    she kissed her dog today?

    August 15, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  27. Bob Conway

    If those who rescue pit bulls from dog-fighting kennels can rehabilitate the dogs, then why can't Michael Vick be rehabilitated also? I deplore what Vick did, but I also applaud the Philly Eagles and Humane Society for giving Vick a second chance.

    August 15, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  28. Bob Conway

    Hundreds of thousands of unwanted domesticated animals roam the back alleys and woods of America. Many of these animals are diseased and starving, and many end-up as road-kill or are euthanized by county and city animal control departments. Spaying and neutering our dogs and cats is far more humane than allowing animal overpopulation to remain unchecked.

    August 15, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  29. Connie

    Dog fighting, cruelty to animals, etc., has been going on before, during , and is still continuing to, Michael Vick became a household name. I do not remember ever hearing this much talk and outrage of this sort behavior that has been and is still going on today! Where were the advocates when this type thing started years ago? What are they doing about it now? Why does Michael have to be the spokesperson for animal cruelty, when everyone on this board and in America, knows someone who has mistreated animals, and also people? As long as money is to be made, this will continue to happen. People are so quick to get angry about a subject when a well-known person's name is tacked on to a particular situation, knowing full well that they know that this has been going on for years and will continue on for more years.

    August 15, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  30. Bob Conway

    Reasonable tort reform may legitimately be included in health care reform legislation along with the inclusion of a meaningful public health insurance option. That could be the Great Compromise of 2009.

    August 15, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  31. Timothy Rucker

    I am truly disturbed at some of the responses to Michael Vick returning to the NFL. It is a sad day in American when somoeone gets more prison time for dog fighting than a child molester, murderer or a corporate embezzler. Michael Vick was wrong for what he did, but the bible says that all have sinned.... Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. He has paid his debt to society and he has admitted he was wrong. God has forgiven Michael and so should everyone else.

    August 15, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  32. Connie

    To me, the most saddest thing about this whole situation, is that people are so easy to point out someone else's sins, while overlooking their own. They see and know about crimes being committing everyday and yet they turn a deaf ear or choose to "keep out of it". How many people know a friend or relative who abuses children, their spouses, neighbors, etc., and they just look the other way? The most popular saying is "Not my problem", or "If I just ignore it, it will go away eventually". Instead of getting actively involved, we just shirk away from our responsibility as humans to protect the rights of other humans! Get outraged about that too, but do something about it!

    August 15, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  33. Rochelle

    I am so happy that M. Vick is out of prison and a free man. Yes, the dog fighting is horrible, but Mike has paid his debt to society and should be treated equal now that he has done his time. I think the Philadelphia Eagles has made the right decision by adding Vick to the team, he will be an even more asset to the team – Mike PLAY HARD AND PLAY STRONG/STAY STRONG! WE STILL LOVE YOU! I believe he is truly remorseful of his actions and will sustain from doing anything of the sort again. And for him to be hired by the Eagles, tells me that they believe that his a Superbowl material and when he gets the chance to prove himself of this, he will do so. Ridiculers need to seriously take a look in your own backyards and clean up your own mess, as Michael did, cause i'm sure you have some . . . . . or you wouldn't be ridiculing.

    LOVE YOU MIKE, PLAY ON!

    August 15, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  34. Joe in La Quinta, CA

    What about public option plan PREMIUMS?? Seems I never hear about how the public option health insurance premiums would fit into things. You would think that the premiums would cover most or all of the costs!? Especially when you consider that private insurance can make huge profits with just their premiums.

    I never hear a word from opponents or proponents about how that plays into the formula. Why not?? Would some people pay and not others (too poor).

    August 15, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  35. Pamela Bailey

    I need a clarification on the following statement: "If you earn over $250,000.00 per year you will be taxed to help pay for the uninsured."

    Does this mean if I earn $260,000.00 I will be taxed only on the $10,000.00 over the $250,000.00 limit or does this mean as soon as I go over $250,000.00 by even $100.00 I will receive an automatic retroactive tax on the entire $250,000.00.? If the second question is true will it be possible to use a tax shelter to prevent going over the $250,000.00 mark? Finally, has a percentage been discussed yet?

    August 15, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  36. che

    When are the CNN announcers going to get it right .. the topic is "health care insurance reform " ... not health care reform ... that is a much bigger topic and way too confusing ...

    August 15, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  37. Bob

    You stated that a report on Bank forclosures was coming up next with a report on an American Idol winner after the break. You showed the report on the Idol winner after the break but never showed the reoprt on the Bank Forclosure information. So, it's been 45 minutes and no report. Is this CNN's way of keeping the consumer watching their station for ratings? Possibly some day the government will require you to actually do what you say instead of making people sit in front of a TV waiting for a report that never comes up. I am personally fed up with this practice that the news media uses on a regular basis. I for one will find a new station to watch my news on.

    August 15, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  38. Roy J. Meidinger

    "Healthcare: Your Questions Answered"
    Health care expenditures of hundreds of billions or a couple of trillion doesn't mean anything to Congress or me.
    What is relevant is how much is the average cost of a Medicare Beneficiary now, and what will it be under the new legislation?
    What is the average cost of a privately insured individual or family plan now and how much will it be under the Government run health insurance plan?
    Also, what is the average cost of a veteran's benefits?
    The last question is how much would the cost be for a single payer system?

    August 15, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  39. tom betten

    i understand what you just said on tv about no illegals will be covered by the house bill on healthcare. the illegals go to the emergency rooms and just do not pay and me as a life long taxpayer ends up paying. this has to stop also. the only way is to send them all back to there country of origin.

    August 15, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  40. joe Angsten

    Three questions: 1) What is the factual basis for the 46-50 million uninsured Anericans that the government is constantly stating need insuranc e coverage? 2) What is the factual beakout, by categories, of the 46-50 million uninsured? 3) Why is there the statment that up to six million Americans will still not be covered? How can the administration stating coverage for all Americans ansd still have six million not coverd?

    August 15, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  41. Vicki Dale

    While I voted "YES" that I believe Obama WILL get this Bill passed, I, in NO WAY, want it to pass. But because of his "High-Dollar" backing to PUT him in Office, he WILL get it thru, unfortunately for all of us Senior Citizens and Elderly, while caring ONLY for youth Education, College for all, etc. and to "HECK" with those over 50. Our Gov. has said if it passed, Texas would "Opt-Out", and I PRAY to God he sticks with that Commitment for us Texans!

    August 15, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  42. Frank Starnes

    Josh how would the health insurance reform legislation deal with an obstacle that I have encountered, which is doctors who will not accept medicare as a payment form? It is a good tool but if it can not be used it just isn't any good.
    If the government forces the issue, is this not government control?

    August 15, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  43. amy miller

    For Josh Levs on health care: I have an individual health insurance policy because I am self employed. The premiums increase each year, recently approved by CT Health Commissioner to increase 20% again next year. My 700 dollars a month will go to $850!

    If no public plan is included in the health care bill, and it looks like that may be what we end up with, will my individual policy rates be regulated and to what degree? Will my insurance company be prevented from these yearly increases. And is it possible my rates will actually decrease?
    Thanks very much.

    August 15, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  44. Sue in Newtown, PA

    Re: Mike Vick – I believe he should have a second chance – as a waterboy or janitor – not being paid millions by the fans who are now forced to decide whether they continue to support the team they love, or boycott the team forcing the Eagles to terminate his contract. I can't believe the ignorance of the decision-makers who think their fans are so insensitive that they could forget what he did, all for the big business of football. Animal abusers are no different than child or spouse abusers. Would Vick have been signed if he had abused children or women? I would hope not.

    August 15, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  45. kevin

    As a resident of the "insurance state", Connecticut, I have personally had it with companies trying to make a profit off other peoples misery. Health care should not be a "profit" industry. We were much better off when Blue Cross-Blue Shield was the only game in town. I recall paying $14 a week for health insurance, I think the deductible was $100 a year. We don't need to be paying the salaries of 25 administration infrastructures!
    As to "choices", I don't want any! If i get sick I want to go to the doctor and get fixed, simple ! who needs choices?
    "Choices" simply adds a lottery aspect to insurance (am I covered?) and an easy out for the insurance companies.

    August 15, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  46. Kelly, Austin

    Thank you for finally re-starting the truth squad. Starting several days ago, long before CNN did, I wrote several of the forcasters blogs asking CNN to do more to correct the misinformation being espoused. It was obvious to me that things were getting out of hand and all across the nation people were asking the same misguided questions. This revealed an extreme lack of understanding of the facts on the ground, as well as, total lack of understanding of the words they are reading. When they were confronted with the facts they refuse to believe the information. So keep it up and spend all the time you can debunking the lies, do little to nothing to reinforce mis-information as it happens.

    August 15, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  47. michael armstrong sr.

    Well ladys and gentelman it's what your not working on that's the problem recovery is the problem putting people back to work instead our government's agenda has turned to a less effective deployment of the tax payer's money's to a survival mode instead of a recovery mode the only true way to fix the problem is thrue jobs not wellfair we are heading for a comunist regime.

    August 15, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  48. Gabrielle King

    I'm an avid CNN viewer. It's where I get my news, however lately I've become frustrated by all the noise that's being reported rather than the facts about the healthcare reform bill. It would be helpful if your reporters who are covering these town hall meetings would focus on the details of the bill rather the protesters, their signs, their NRA hats and comments on their personal opinion of President Obama. You are giving way to much airtime to thier rhetoric rather than the facts of the bill and how it will impact patients, taxpayers and small businesses.

    I agree that the potential for substantial cost savings exists in Medicare and Medicaid by eliminating waste and fraud, however it can't be at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens. Whatever happened to treatment teams and disease management where physicians talked to each other and work together to treat disease. This starts with every patient having a medical home that would help to decrease the need for emergency room visits. And since I'm on the subject of saving money, if we all agree that emergency room and urgent care are one of cost drivers in the healthcare system, lets start by incentivizing patients to change their behaviors about their health. Those who take an active role in making healthy lifestyle changes that reap measurable improved health outcomes will be rewarded with incremental reductions in their premiums or co-pays.

    With regards to undocumented people and non-Americans, I believe they should be treated, however that process should be that they are triaged and then sent back to their native country OR requre their country's governent be responsible for paying their health care expenses.

    August 15, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  49. Patrick Ronan

    Dear Congress,
    Health care reform is very complicated. We must control the income and expenses. Expenses must be CUT and controlled on service providers wages(Dr. fees), hospital(nothing free for uninsured), medications(why are drugs cheaper in other countries), eliminate dropped coverage, eliminate preexisting problem, single record data base,all policies and plans reimburse at the same rate(medicare has to pay the same as private policy), equal access and coverage for all(Drs. and health companies cherry pick),pay for preventive care and anything else I forgot.
    The groups that have to agree to truly fix it and disregard their special interest are AMA, drug companies, hospitals, insurance companies and congress.
    I can see no way to have meaningful reform the way we are going about it now. It is a piece meal approach. All of these entities will never agree to what needs to be done. Somebody has to be in charge. That somebody should be congress and the administration.
    If it is not a single payer system we will continue this exercise in futility again and again forever. Congress will always be tinkering with details.
    Step up. We need to join the rest of the world and cut out all special interest in this important legislation. There are times in everyones career when you can really make a difference. This is yours.

    Patrick Ronan

    August 15, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  50. Martin

    Why is CNN and other news media not telling the whole story about health care reform?. when I hear people say we don't have to rush through reform why don't you remind them that health care reform is being talked about since days of President Harry Truman and may be even more. Only Democrat Presidents like President Clinton and Obama bothers to bring it up and Republican presidents don't even bother to say or do anything about it. (2) It took a Democrat President and congress to pass Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security Reform without Republican help.

    August 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  51. Alice Collette

    What about the people who are NOT interested in health care and even though they can afford to pay for health care they do not. If they get sick they go to the emergency room.

    I don't need to pay for people who don't want it. The new reform should only be for the uninsured who want it. And I guarantee the people who are uninsured WILL NOT pay for it. They are the illegals who want everything for free.

    August 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  52. Albert Bourgeois

    I don't fully understand health care reform.They say there's 46 million people without healthcare.There are those who say they can't afford it, but they choose to put everyday living in front of there future.(new cars,eating out ect.)What will healthcare reform do to stop this irresponsible behavior.They will continue to buy new cars and go to the emergency room when needed on the taxpayers dime.How fair is that for those who do act responsible?

    August 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  53. Minesh

    1. Why is Congress exempt from the Health Care Reform?
    2. Why is it 1000 pages long and complicated – what is it hiding?
    3. Why not just offer $5000 tax credit to every citizen towards a catastrophic health insurance plan using Health Savings Account?

    August 15, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  54. Martin in Katy,TX

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Why is CNN and other news media not telling the whole story about health care reform?. when I hear people say we don’t have to rush through reform why don’t you remind them that health care reform is being talked about since days of President Harry Truman and may be even more. Only Democrat Presidents like President Clinton and Obama bothers to bring it up and Republican presidents don’t even bother to say or do anything about it. (2) It took a Democrat President and congress to pass Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security Reform without Republican help

    August 15, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  55. Grammie Jeanie

    I am a strong supporter of health care reform. Those who say it is being rushed forget that we have been trying to do this since Teddy Roosevelt's time! I support Pres. Obama and agree, we need all the facts on the table.
    As a senior citizen, I do have one major concern. Pres. Obama says part of the costs of the reform will come from eliminating subsidies to the insurance companies that provide Medicare Advantage.
    If our gov't removes the subsidies incentive, won't that mean that many of the those companies will no longer offer/sell a Medicare Advantage program? Or worse, raise the premiums we seniors are paying now? Remember folks, Medicare does not cover everything. It is a safety net so folks don't go under. That's why the Advantage policies are sold, to fill the gaps Medicare does not currently cover.
    I have not heard this question addressed yet, and really want to know.
    I can't watch you guys 24/7 so is there any way you can find the answer out for me, and email me? Thank you.

    August 15, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  56. Daniel Berkowitz

    I am in favor of reform as most Americans likely are. Most of us are simply concerned that something so big and so important is being rushed through. For example an "apolitical" conversation on reform would at the very least include discussions and explorations on: *issues of tort reform
    *deregulating the industry so multi-state competition between health
    insurers could occur in the market
    *WILL qualified candidates still enter the medical field if pay rates and
    compensation are altered

    No one in America will take the debate seriously until ALL issues are included in the discussion for thoughtful consideration and not sidelined by the special interests that still sway our elected officials.

    August 15, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  57. ken boward

    WHAT HAPP-ENS TO US SENIORS THAT NOW ARE IN A hmo,dO WE STAY,CAN WE SWITCHTO THE GOVERNMENT INSURANCE?wE JUST DONT GET ALL THE INFO FROM ANYONE. pLEASE HELP.tHANKS kEN

    August 15, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  58. Sushil Mukherjee

    I posted a question to cnn.com/Tony but was not answered. I am now asking the same question to Josh. President Obama keeps on telling that he would eliminate $177 billion subsidizies currently paid by Medicare to private Insurance companies without any benefit cut/ reducing prescription drug coverage for the seniors. He also says that both Republican & Democratic Lawmakers agree on this amount subsidies which can be eliminated. If so why doesn't the President stop these subsidies immediately by Executive Order and put the money in a sort of Trust fund to finance the reform? If he can't, please ask him what are these subsidiies for? And which lawmakers sponsored these subsidies? May be Josh knows more about these subsidies and educate me in this matter.

    August 15, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  59. Jean

    I have worked for a company for nearly 10 years, I have seen my healthcare cost sky rocketed from paying $70.00 to $540.00 a month deducted from my pay check. I feel that the Company pays nothing for my healthcare and that hurts me me badly especially with a $5000.00 deductible. Because of that I had to back away from a procedure that was needed for my 6 year old daughter. it cost me nearly $7000.00 a year on health care contributions. aren't cases similar to mine embarrassing enough for a health care reform? Wouldn't the reform help regulate those outrageous insurance rates? Why do I feel that I am being penalized for just caring for my family?

    August 15, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  60. Daniel Berkowitz

    To Josh: My wife and I run a small business. Our annual Payrol is $340,00. Soon we will be opening two new locations increasing our total payroll to $540,000. Currently we do not offer healthcare to our employees. Would we be required to do so under the current legislation being debated given our expanded payroll? Has there been consideration to the fact that companies may forego expansion plans to keep their payrolls UNDER the threshold if it is passed?

    August 15, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  61. Henya

    Hello Josh,
    I wonted to say what a great job you are doing by informing the public about what is actually is the truth. and not what the Republicans misleading information to the public, I do not have health insurance I just want to buy coverage at reasonable price, at this point it is imposable for me to do so, the system has to change the Insurance Companies are over charging every one , including the employer the government and the patients it is all about the how much money they will make. So I support our President to reform health care this year.
    Thanks

    August 15, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  62. Andrew

    Couple of things, why are only the people making over 250k having their taxes raised to help pay for the current problems. Obama, promised not to raise the taxes on the middle class, but I don't believe him. 5-10% of the population can't sustain the cost of all the programs that are being implemented. The government will sneak taxes in our everday expenses, watch out! All those that have an income should be taxed to help pay for the country's mess that it is in. Don't we all have access to government paid things ie roads, libraries etc, there is no segregation of classes there. Just to let you know i belong to the middle class.

    In terms of health care reform or whatever the president is calling it now, he seems to be making subtle changes to his objectives all the time. It is difficult to know where he will finally end up in health care. For now, I don't believe this rapid push for reform will do us any good. Everyone should have healthcare, but it should NOT be given for free. That would encourage the people who choose not to have care to continue what they are doing. I believe that healthcare should be MANDATORY and those who can't afford healthcare should be subsidized by the government and these same government officials need go to out to the people who can't afford healthcare and work out a plan for them. Shame on those who smoke and drink and have no healthcare, you can afford healthcare!!

    As for illegals, well, that's going to complicate more things. The president should address this issue too in terms of healthcare. Are the rich people going to pay for them as well or is everyone including the lower class going to have their taxes raised to pay for these issues?

    August 15, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  63. Larry Larry

    I have a few questions about this whole debate and how the complete facts about healthcare are laid out comparing what we currently have versus what is being proposed.
    Currently, what is the total cost of health care in the US. carried by the people that is not a direct payment, i.e. health insurance premiums and co-pays? This total would be the sum of medicare and other established government programs, costs absorbed by other agencies for medical services rendered to the under-insured and uninsured, and the costs passed on to the insured by insurance companies for the uninsured and under-insured. Add to this total, the percentage of the amount of malpractice insurance carried by doctors and hospitals just as a preventative that is passed on to the American people.
    If I could see that specific figure against what the proposed government option would cost and cover, then I would be better able to understand what the debate is really about.
    My concern is that the current debate is driven by the potential financial losses for the insurance companies and associated shareholders presented as little more than a McCarthy-ist Red Scare. The random cries of socialism I've heard are the same cries shouted during the early days of the Cold War.
    I firmly believe that the US needs some kind of universal coverage for all citizens and with the right and privilege of that coverage comes the responsibility of those citizens to make the best choices to maintain their health. The one echoing ideal that this administration has made that remains in the forefront of my mind is "responsibility". It is long past a time where the American people individually quit blaming others for their problems that are a direct result of individual choices. These include smokers, many overweight individuals and others where their choices have resulted in their health problems. Scientific information has been out for a long time about many of these risks and many people have chosen to ignore the results and refuse to modify even slightly their behavior.
    It is also obvious to me that a healthy, supported and covered American people can and will be more productive and industrious for the future of both the American and the World economies. Why is there such a fight against America? How can such actions support any kind of free speech when everyone is too busy yelling while no one is listening?

    August 15, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  64. annette

    Can the Congress pass a stand alone law ending discrimination for pre-existing conditions? And if so, why must we wait years for this protection? If insurance companies don't want competition from the Government, they should institute some humanitarian changes now and then there might be less of a push for universal health care.

    August 15, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  65. Eve LeBlanc

    with so many doctors not accepting medicare patients, a nice way of refusing them, their answer when calling make appt . we are not seeing new patients at this time , a nice way of refusing to see you. How can we be assured of being seen if this health care goes thru?

    with the doctors fees being out of reach , and unable to pay 185:00 dollars for the first visit, and also being told cash only , I am assuming the the $ sign comes first , Thank You

    August 15, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  66. James of Houston

    Dear CNN,

    With regard to the current health care debate, I now have some important concerns that make a lot of sense to me and that I had not thought of until recently. I would like to know if you agree with these concerns, and if you do not, please help me understand why the following conclusions are incorrect.

    First, we have been told that ~ 50 million Americans are without health insurance. I want to help these persons obtain the medical care they truly need, but we do not want our compassion to overwhelm and conceal our need for common sense. It is human nature to use more of anything when it is free, and health care, unfortunately, will be no exception. If we enact a program to include free health care for all these persons, or for people who make less than, say $30,000 per year, the system will be overwhelmed, we will not have a sufficient number of doctors or hospitals available in the U.S. to treat everyone, and it will take forever for any of us to get a routine office appointment or a hospital admission when we really and seriously need it.

    Second, we have been told there are ~12 million illegal workers in the U.S. The current health care bill will provide these workers and their families with free health care. The reason they will qualify for free health care is because their wages are not reported by their employers and tracked on any W-2 Tax Statements. Consequently, these persons are considered “indigent” and in need of federal assistance. By including undocumented workers, we will provide them with free benefits for which they do not qualify. Also, these benefits will became a “magnet” for people from other countries to come to the U. S. where they can gainfully work, receive good, unreported incomes and obtain free health care for their families. The new costs of providing these free benefits to our future non-citizens will grow beyond all proportions.

    These are some very serious concerns that need to be addressed in the current legislation. We need to ask our congress members these questions and see if they have even considered them. I have a feeling they have hot!

    August 15, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  67. Boots in Los Angeles

    We keep hearing that other countries are offering good, even great health care at far less than like care costs in the United States. There have even been examples given where a particular procedure costs three times as much in the US as overseas – with patient outcomes being just as good when treatment is given there as here.

    This suggests there are costs being built into our system which are innately crippling the system and making health care impossible for Americans to get. Can someone please tell us where those cost differences are, and why they're so different?

    This can't be simply about profit being built in at every step, although I'm tempted to think what is thought of as "acceptable profit" differs in the US against such levels overseas.

    Could CNN perhaps do the research and get We the People a breakdown on all this?

    August 15, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  68. jeff woodard

    I the public option is implemented will the government administrate it or will it be contracted out. Every since the private sector got involved with medicare it has become a finincial nightmare just like the post office.

    August 15, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  69. Leslie Jack

    Hi, TJ and Betty. Glad to hear that your two pastore are supporting Health Care Reform.

    What I am adding here perhaps is a little heavy for this time of the morning but I think the idea I am expressing should be examined as time in this debate advances. But here goes.

    President Obama should press ahead with his health care initiatives instead of being a perfectly nice person to get agreement from everyone. He has the power, he campaigned on delivering this service and now he should get on with it. He is a nice person as indicated by reaching out to the other side already but trying to get everyone onside is becoming a sign of weakness. Many of his political enemies do not want health care because likely they are satisfied with the status quo. President Obama likely joined government to help others and just because others may not have his ideals is no reason to slacken off from his promises; let his enemies accuse him of ambition, communism, socialism or whatever else. He has denounced these accusations and anyone who is listening to him can see they have no bases in fact. Get a plan out there and if the democratic party has to get the cudos for this service so be it; the republicans had their chances to do the same but didn't have the interest to do so. In the meantime while the politicians daddle their citizens do without a basic need. A smooth-running Government fills the need, not wants, that no other sector of society fills to the best of their finances allow.

    Although Democracy has a lot of virtue in the abstract there are many improvements that can be made in its application. One for me is that there is not of it practiced. One big way this can be overcome, and this is a NEW IDEA that will take some time to disseminate, is to allow all civil servant employees, since they are all paid from the public purse, to elect their managers and supervisors at all levels of the bureaucracy. Then, I suggest, there will be no more insolvable problems in our Democracies, which now appear to be present in Public Education, the Post Office, and now used as an excuse for not having Public Health Care. President Obama even made an oblique reference to the problems in the Post Office during his town hall meeting in Portsmouth, North Hampshire the past week.

    An Elected Bureaucracy would have to compete for their jobs whenever there is a general election in the level of government that pays their salaries. This would provide the competition that is necessary between the private and public sectors. This whole idea could be applied to the present complaint in the proposed Public Health Care Delivery along with the money that would be provided to it. Everything can be accomplished with adequate money and thinking people and something can be accomplished with some money and thinking people.

    In the present health care debate why can't the U. S. government come out with their own health care plan for the uninsured or underinsured; they could do this in the following manner using the duplications and wasted money that is presently in the Health Care Delivery System? Just to prove to the doubters out there that they can deliver this in an fiscally responsible manner they even could use less resources than private health users, as much as say 25%. For example, if 1/6 or 16% of U.S citizens have no or inadequate health care or benefits then put 16% of the total health care delivery program into the government health care plan; and just to show that it will not exceed that part of the budget even take a further decrease from that absolute 16% that logically could go towards the government plan. That is, take up to a further 5% to 25% from this amount which would then only leave 0.25 x 16%; this would bring the total public commitment down to as low as 12% of the present health care delivery budget and use only that amount for the government health care budget.

    With a democratically-elected Civil Service along with a reduced Public Budget that logically could be argued to be available for it, I think those presently in the Private Health Care System would clamour to join the Public System. I suggest that likely the empathic care from such a publically funded Health Delivery System would provide just as good care as the more expensive private plan. Over the ensuing years these annual hundreds of billions of public dollars could be used to build a wide ranging public system which over time could completely care for persons in the public plan. It’s the government’s money to do as the politicians wish with it and with all the managers running this public system being elected by their employees, in the system the least waste possible would occur, with the public funds being protected as well, or even better, than those at the highest levels of present government.

    If you wish to see the argument above extended and perhaps clarified you may do so by going to http:/way.to/Education. Thanks, Leslie

    August 16, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  70. Lawrence Goldstein

    If you are a homeowner loosing your home on a Short Sale, out of work or working a low paying job because there is nothing better out there, then the recover has totally fallen flat.

    The money was there and it has been kept at the top.

    August 17, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  71. James of Houston

    This response is for Boots in Los Angeles.

    Boots, the reason our medical procedures in the United States cost so much and are so expansive is as follows.

    First, when the private hospitals treat emergency-room patients and indigent patients who cannot pay for their medical services, they charge the private carriers more for their procedures and services (like $20.00 for two aspirin!) to make up for their operating losses. If they don’t recover these losses, they will close their doors and go out of business. (This has already happened to three hospitals here in Houston.) The insurance providers, who are charged the brunt of these charges, then pass these charges off to us and our employers in the form of higher premiums.

    If you have no health insurance and are admitted to the hospital, you will pay the same costs as the hospital and doctors charges the insurance providers. Again, these higher costs enable the hospital to recoup their expenses for treating the poor and indigent patients who are unable to pay their hospital bills. … From this example, you can see we have a “universal“ health care system now; it is very expensive and not very efficient! … It also includes all naturalized citizens and all illegal residents!

    Second, the Federal Government then uses Medicare transfer payments to offset the inflated (50-75%) treatment costs our hospitals now charge our private insurers. However, if everyone were included in the present Federal system, the government subsidies (50-75%) we now pay to the private insurance companies would instead be used to cover everyone who is now uninsured with no net increase in cost to the taxpayers. The only people out any money, and rightfully so, would be the people who would have to pay monthly premiums for the new coverage they receive when they enroll in the existing Federal Employees health insurance plan! … Case closed, Problem solved!

    August 17, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  72. Marilyn - FLorida

    BARNEY FRANK ... I love you!! Would that all Democrats had that kind of courage. To see him ask that woman "what planet do you live on?" and confront her about that nasty, anti-American defaced picture of our President. I wish ALL our leaders had his bravery and truth in speaking!!

    August 19, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  73. Marilyn - FLorida

    I do agree with Sushil above: Why can't some of the changes, improvements in health care, be done by Executive Order. Certainly the lack of health care for almost 50 Million (and perhaps higher daily as people lose jobs) puts our country at a security risk. Whenever security is an issue, Executive Orders can come into play. I'd think many of the "cost saving" factors could be started without Congress.

    Congress does control the purse strings BUT they can't object to Executive Orders that reduce the cost of things. When that money is immediately made available, their objections to other things may have to go "poof" into thin air.

    Certainly HMO and insurance companies running healthcare now has caused gigantic cost inflation. Talk about beauracracy running healthcare! Your healthcare NOW has layers and layers of waste that go to big CEO's who are only there to make a profit. Listen to the old Nixon/Haldemann tapes about how much profit the "insurance" i.e. HMO companies can make on healthcare and how that would benefit the Republicans.

    Government run healthcare would put thousands of worthless CEO's out on the street! Awwww, shucks! They've been making fortunes off the death and pain of people they've denied coverage. I'd love to see them suffering by having to give up their Mercedes and their McMansions!!! They should be moved to packing grates under freeway overpasses, with a shopping cart for transportation!

    August 19, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  74. Marilyn - FLorida

    How deeply sad it is to have lost Don Hewitt this morning. While the public didn't see him often, we did see and hear enough to know that he was the genius who improved our access to accurate, in-depth information. He never seemed to be hung up on "sound bites" but in getting to the meat of a topic. I hope everyone remembers what a terrific person he was and continues his tradition of excellence in information delivery.

    August 19, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  75. Marilyn - FLorida

    Could ONE of your health "research" staff dig out statistics on what percentage of the cost of current HMO dominated health care coverage goes to PURELY salaries for Executive Directors and administrative staffing? How much of the current cost of health care goes to those people who call you up and say "oh, sorry, you've been declined for coverage on that particular test or procedure"? How much of the current cost of health care goes to litigation between HMOs and patients (or estates of dead patients) who were denied care that would potentially have saved their lives? Many of these executives have no medical training, no medical knowledge. They are high-paid bean counters. And they practice "CYA" to the max by putting big bucks into the pockets of "their" politicians.

    Relevant questions like the above would be those Don Hewitt would have looked at with happiness! And would have provided to us!

    August 19, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  76. James of Houston

    This comment is for Marilyn of FLorida.

    Marilyn, check this out:

    http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/reprint/4/4/50.pdf

    ... all you want to know about Health Care Cooperatives!

    "The marketplace is becoming increasingly complex and difficult to negotiate.The unabated growth of technologies, the emergence of new healthcare arrangements, and the multiplicity of insurance and direct pay options present consumers with a confusing array of choices. It is virtually
    impossible for many older people to assess intelligently all available options.

    Consequently many, if not most, are making suboptimal choices.The health care marketplace for older persons is actually an agglomeration
    of several separate but related industries each characterized by its
    own mix of private and public financing. Major sectors include hospital
    care, physician services, nursing homes, drugs and medical supplies, home health care, dental services, eyeglasses and appliances, podiatry, and medical quackery.Despite the panoply of public programs, private financing accounted for more than 40 percent of the nation’s total health care bill for the elderly in 1981.

    Over the next fifty years, it is likely that most sectors of the health care
    industry will continue to grow robustly, and the marketplace will probably
    be characterized by growing oversupplies of providers, continued development of new services and products, and heightened competition
    for the dollars of older consumers."

    August 20, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  77. James of Houston

    Ms/Mr..Moderator, Here is the corrected version!

    If we now pick up the people without health insurance and include them in the state Medicaid systems, then these people will be insured, and they will have access to the medical care they need. If the private companies don't get their acts together and their costs under control, more-and-more people will switch to the state Medicaid programs because they cannot afford to purchase private insurance.

    Eventually, if this happens, we will end up with a Government-run Medicaid health care system for almost everyone (Federal employees and large corporations with price leverage excluded), and many of the private insurance companies will be forced out of business because no one will be able to afford the high monthly premiums for their expensive policies! ... Again, case closed ... problem solved!

    August 20, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  78. Health Care

    There are examples all over the Western democracies of government health plans that work well. The big questions is, Why can't we do in the US what they do? The answer, I fear, is a combination of irrational fear of government combined with domination of the political process by big corporations. Maybe we'll have to solve these problems before we can tackle health care.

    August 22, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  79. James of Houston

    Sarah, I agree with you completely! Let’s first get people back to work and then worry about re-vamping our health care system. With a bi-weekly income, they can then purchase the health care policy that best fits their needs (single, self and family, dental coverage, prescription drug coverage, HMO or health co-op coverage, or catastrophic coverage only) and not a “one-size-fits-all” policy with all kinds of expensive “bells and whistles” like Government -mandated legislation will force on each of us.

    BTH, did you see the coverage last night of the state-run health care system that the state ligislature enacted in Hawaii? They had to cancel it after one year because it was much too expensive! … They learned when a state service is offered for free, people use it much more frequently. … What a new revelation for our legislators to recognize!

    August 22, 2009 at 5:46 pm |