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Health Care on Trial; Surrogate Sisters; Interview with Dominique Moceanu

Aired June 16, 2012 - 16:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Hey there. And thanks for joining us. We have a lot in store today.

Gymnast Dominique Moceanu, remember her, the 1996 "Magnificent Seven"? Well, she's going to stop by to drop an Olympic-sized bombshell.

Plus, a sister giving her brother and sister-in-law the ultimate gift: a baby. They are called surrogate sisters. The good, the bad, the ugly -- that's just in a few minutes.

But, first, we're putting Mitt Romney and your health care "Under the Microscope".

The Supreme Court will decide this month whether the president's health care law will stay or go. Now, the devil, of course, is in the details. But whatever the decision, Mitt Romney wants the law gone and he's promoting a very different sort of vision.

Tevi Troy is Governor Romney's top health care policy adviser and he joins me now from Washington. Thanks for joining us.


GUPTA: You know, the number one legal issue -- as you know better than anybody -- is it constitutional to make people buy health insurance? Which under the law you would have to do if you don't have a job or through Medicaid or something Governor Romney supported such a mandate in Massachusetts. It's a law there now.

What does he think the Supreme Court should say?

TROY: Well, he said I believe this week that the Supreme Court should make the right decision on this, that the individual mandate on a federal level is outside the bounds of the Commerce Clause and it's not something that the federal government should be allowed to do. So he hopes the Supreme Court rules it unconstitutional, as do I, and I think that's the way they're going to go. We don't know for sure. We'll see.

But either way, the Obama health care law is extremely problematic and needs to be repealed and Governor Romney has promised to do so.

GUPTA: So, let me make sure I have this right. You think the law gives too much power to the federal government but states should have the right to do what they like, even if it means requiring people to buy insurance?

TROY: Well, I'm not in favor of that approach necessarily. But I think that we do have a Constitution, and the Constitution determines what the federal government is allowed to do and the question before the Supreme Court is whether the individual mandate is constitutional across the entire federal system, and I think it's not constitutional and Governor Romney does. Some judges at lower levels do. I think the Supreme Court is going to find the same thing.

GUPTA: When you say you're not in favor of what's happening at the state level, specifically Massachusetts, obviously, Governor Romney was. He was in favor of a mandate in Massachusetts at the state level.

Look, I spoke to the Governor Romney back in 2009. Take a listen to what he said specifically.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Republicans have been very interested in what we did here, but I've gotten no calls from my Democratic friends and no analysis done at the federal level to say what can we learn from the Massachusetts experience that might be helpful in fashioning a federal plan?


GUPTA: As you know, the president himself now says Massachusetts was basically the model for the Affordable Care Act. I mean, you know, I'm not sure exactly if you can parse out what Governor Romney was trying to say there. But is this really fundamentally, Tevi, just a states right issue versus a federal issue? Because I think for the average citizen, they're going to say, you know, is that really that big of a difference?

TROY: No, it's much more than that, Sanjay. You said it right there. President Obama said basically the same.

Well, as you said earlier, the devil is in the details. They have some things they call similar to the Massachusetts plan but there are so many huge differences and so many ways that President Romney would not want to go in pursuing a federal approach to health care and ways that are different from -- between Massachusetts and the Obama health care law. As I said earlier, the Obama health care law raises taxes on innovators and medical devices. The Obama health care law cuts Medicare by $500 billion. So there are a whole bunch of differences.

GUPTA: Let me bring up something else. Governor Romney has this standard speech line he has given a few times now specifically about the Affordable Care Act. And it's about Obamacare in specific. Let's listen to this.


ROMNEY: He's attacked the very cornerstone of American prosperity, our economic freedom. Today, government at all levels consumes over 37 percent of the total economy or the GDP. And if Obamacare is allowed to stand, government will reach over almost half of the total economy.


GUPTA: So, I'm sure you've had discussion about that particular comment, "The Washington Post" and other fact checkers we've checked with say it's just not true. That is a false statement, that 50 percent number. First of all, do you stand by it? And if so, how do you justify it?

TROY: What I will say is we spent something like over $2.5 trillion in health care every year and about half of that is government. So government is a huge part of our health care spending and Governor Romney doesn't want to keep increasing that.

I think that's a smart way of going about saying, we don't want to have more and more government sponsored health care. And the more you have government paying for health care as our economy gets bigger and our population ages and as health care costs rise, you will have government being a greater part of the over all economy.

GUPTA: Half you think?

TROY: I don't know the exact numbers. I confess to not being an economist. I've seen the back and forth issue. I've seen the back and forth.

GUPTA: The candidate said that number. That's why I'm asking.

TROY: Right. I've seen the back-and-forth. I've not dug into the CBO and OMB tables that would determine this, but I do know that government is a large part of the economy getting larger under President Obama's vision, too large for my preference and too large for what I think would be good for the American people.

GUPTA: Again I don't want to belabor the point and you aren't the one who said it, but when your candidate says something like that, it is our job to ask specifically because it sounds frightening to the average citizen who is saying look I'm trying to make a reasonable choice here.

Appreciate you joining us. Hopefully we can talk about it again. There's going to be a lot to talk about certainly after that decision is made and all the way up to November as well.

Tevi Troy, thanks so much.

TROY: Happy to do it any time. Appreciate it.

We're going to be looking at this from all different sides in the weeks and months ahead. Of course, you can read more about this at any time at

Up next on SGMD, how far would you go to have children? Why this woman is now carrying her brother's baby. We'll explain.

Stay with us.


GUPTA: For some families, having children is the end all, be all. The question is how far would you go to make that dream a reality?

I want to introduce you today to one family that's taken things to what some would call extreme measures.

Now, over here this is Tiffany. She's married to Sean. And together, they have two kids.

Tiffany's brother is James, who's over here, and his wife Natalie. They have one son. After the birth of their first child, Natalie had to have an emergency hysterectomy so she could no longer carry the child.


NATALIE LUCICH, BIOLOGICAL MOTHER: October 30th, 2010, I was brought into the hospital because I was two weeks late. I had to be induced. After he came out, I got to see him and put him on my chest and I basically just started to not feel good.

JAMES LUCICH, NATALIE'S HUSBAND: The bleeding slowly I think over 45 minutes, it started to get worse as time went on, and basically, they had to take your uterus out after trying to save it.

N. LUCICH: We chose surrogacy as our first option because I still have eggs left and we were able to have our own child. It would be James and my child.

J. LUCICH: After a couple days in the hospital, my sister felt compelled to tell us that she would be more than happy to carry a baby for us. It really brought tears to our eyes that my sister was that willing to do this for us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are pregnant.

N. LUCICH: Yay, we have a baby!


GUPTA: It's quite a remarkable story. I think a lot of people are interested in what you guys are going through right now.

Natalie and James, let me start with you. We just saw the video of you guys finding out you were finally pregnant. I mean, I know this has been a long road. How did that feel for you? What was the moment like?

Natalie, let's start with you.

N. LUCICH: It was thrilling. It was like it was so exciting. We definitely had waited a long time for this to happen and to finally get the phone call that we were expecting was incredible.

GUPTA: What about you, James? Obviously this is something you thought about for a long time. This is an interesting relationship between families as a result of all of this. What was it like for you when you got the call?

J. LUCICH: Just like Natalie said, it was incredible, overflowing with emotions. You know, my sister has given us a second chance here to have a big family and, or a bigger family, and it's just unbelievable. Can't even, you know, put words to it.

GUPTA: I just got some -- a few goose bumps as you were saying that. The opportunity, Tiffany, to do this for your brother.

Tiffany and Sean, you both, I think it is fair to say to you've given up a lot to do this. I think that's fair to say. What compelled you to volunteer to be Natalie and James' surrogate, Tiffany?

TIFFANY BURKE, SURROGATE MOTHER: I guess the word opportunity is perfect here. I want to help in any way I can anyone I can, but I have a great uterus and Sean and I were done with natural children and it just kind of made sense that I'm done with it, so you can use it, you know? Except for morning sickness, I really enjoy being pregnant and feeling life growing. So, it just kind of seemed like a good opportunity actually to do something good for someone I love and it really worked out.

GUPTA: Sean, did you -- did you have any reservations about this? I mean, how did you respond or react when this was all first being discussed?

SEAN BURKE, TIFFANY'S HUSBAND: Well, I told her I wanted to definitely think about it. Her health was a big thing but also the morning sickness is something that really was bad with our first son Holland and our second son Blake. And it got worse with Blake, so I could only imagine what it was going to be like with all the hormones and then, you know, it's very difficult. Yes, that was the first thing that came up in my mind.

GUPTA: Yes. This is an eye opening process for a lot of people seeing this for the first time.

Tiffany, you sort of talked about this earlier but what surprised you the most about carrying someone else's child?

T. BURKE: I don't know how -- how to say this without sounding insensitive but feeling different when I see the babies on the ultrasound shocked me. I thought -- I was afraid of maybe loving them as much as I love my own children or there is something when you see your own children on the ultrasound. And I love them, you know, I love seeing every ultrasound that we see but I was more interested in watching my brother and Natalie's reaction and seeing their love for the babies. It was kind of a relief but shocked me as well that, oh, I'm a little desensitize. I'm a little removed in a good, healthy way I hope. So, that shocked me.

GUPTA: Natalie and Tiffany, I understand that you guys also have a bit of news that you want to share as well.

N. LUCICH: We do. We just found out not too long ago that we are not expecting one but two. Two babies.

GUPTA: And that's exciting stuff. I mean, does it make it more exciting, more complicated, Natalie? How are you feeling about that?

N. LUCICH: To me, I couldn't ask for anything more. I am still kind of beyond words because it's still sort of sinking in and the reality that, you know, we're going to be -- we're going to have a 2- year-old and two newborns is pretty incredible. It's going to be fun. It's going to be a little crazy ride.

GUPTA: We're going to continue to follow the story in the weeks and months ahead right here on SGMD.

But up next, Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu, she's here to reveal a shocking family secret.


GUPTA: As the youngest member of the 1996 U.S. gymnastics team, Dominique Moceanu at age 14 fulfilled a life long dream of winning Olympic gold. But in her new book which is called "Off Balance," Dominique Opens up about the abuse she also suffered while training for the Olympics and also the surprising discovery of a secret sister.


GUPTA (voice-over): Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu hasn't lost the focus and the smile she's known for as a member of "The Magnificent Seven" in Atlanta. But behind that smile, she's hidden a lot of pain.

While she loved the sport, Moceanu says her coaches, Marta and Bela Karolyi, made her life miserable, severely restricting her eating, forcing her to hide any sports-related injuries and constantly chipping away at her self-esteem.

DOMINIQUE MOCEANU, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL GYMNAST: Name-calling like a piggy and fat. The Karolyis, for example, they hit me in a lot of personal and emotional places. They used my father as a medium of abuse.

GUPTA: She says the coaches would call her father to complain about her performance in practice and he'd punish her by hitting her.

MOCEANU: For so long, I was silenced by those very people who never wanted me to say anything.

GUPTA: The Karolyis declined to comment on her accusations, but tell CNN, quote, "We have known Dominique since a young gymnast and wish her only the best of success as she goes through life."

At 17, she went to court to be granted legal independence from her Romanian parents, to reclaim her money and choose her own coach.

Moceanu's younger sister, Christina, says she witnessed the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, but says Dominique reconciled with him before he died from cancer.

MOCEANU: I learned to take those experiences that were difficult in my life and in the adversity that I had overcome to use it for a positive change.

GUPTA: Moceanu retired from gymnastics in 2006.


GUPTA: Welcome to the show first of all. It's a pleasure to meet you in person.

What is it like to hear that story recounted?

MOCEANU: You know, it brings back a lot of emotions and that's what this seven-year process of writing my memoir has done. It's allowed me to really adjust and take it all in, because it took me every bit of that seven years to digest everything that's happened in my life and that I'm talking about so openly. I never thought I would be able to sit here without being terrified of talking about these things because so much of my life I spent in fear, especially my childhood.

GUPTA: You wrote the book in part because you wanted to tell the story. People who are watching now and say, she overcame a lot. I mean, she won Olympic gold but it was -- it was under a lot of tough circumstances.

What would you tell people like that who want to get through these types of things themselves?

MOCEANU: Well, first of all, I always loved gymnastics. That's why I started the sport. It's a passion of mine. And I want it to get better. I want to bring to light situations that were light years behind in defining the common scenarios of abuse and just defining abuse in our sport in general.

A lot of coaches at the elite level kind of take advantage of that I believe. There are great coaches out there, but for me, I want to use my voice to spark a positive change.

GUPTA: The karolyi's say, they didn't have much to say frankly. They said we wish Dominique the best. What do you say to that?

MOCEANU: Well, if you observe carefully they never denied the treatment. And I think that speaks volumes.

GUPTA: So many people, you know, they know you obviously and now they know the story and I think it maybe serves as a little bit of inspiration at least in their own lives that they can overcome. So, it's a real pleasure to meet you as well, Dominique.

MOCEANU: Thank you so much.

GUPTA: Thanks to you and your family and your husband was also a gymnast. Thank you very much.

Up next, from the balance beam to the basketball court, we're going to head out to dunk the junk literally. Stay with us.


GUPTA: All right. We're all too familiar with the numbers. One in three kids is either overweight or obese. I've said this hundreds of times. But we're about solutions on this program so when I discovered Kevin Strong who is a pediatrician who launched dunk the junk using things he liked as a kid like graffiti art, basketball, dunking, hip hop music to help kids learn to eat healthy, I decided I needed to see this for myself.


KIDS (rapping): Dunk the junk. Throw away the candy. That's what's up. That's what's up. Dunk the junk. Dunk the junk. Throw away the candy, that's what's up.

DR. KEVIN STRONG, CEO & FOUNDER, DUNK THE JUNK: In my community practice, I was having kids come in. They were 3 years old and they are morbidly obese and they didn't know what was happening to their bodies. I just felt not just their self-esteem but the internal damage that was happening to their bodies and I felt appropriately positioned to do something about it.

Guys, wish me luck.

I have a creative side and I wanted to make a cool, creative way to engage kids, excite them so it's their decision to eat healthy.

GUPTA: So dunk the junk.


GUPTA: I never think that fighting childhood obesity is quite like this. But this is what it takes sometimes.

UNIDENTIFIED KID (rapping): Veggies are a lifetime, eat them all day. If you don't want to be there, throw all the junk away.

MIKE RICH, DUNK THE JUNK ARTIST: I hope they can see graffiti art used in a positive way.

GUPTA: How big a deal is an event like this for you?

DOMINIQUE WILKINS, ATLANTA HAWKS: Being a guy who suffered from diabetes I know the importance of staying healthy. It's the start of something good that the parents particularly can take it home and start to teach themselves and their children.

JACOB TUCKER, NCAA DUNK CHAMPION: We're trying to get the sugar aspect out of their diet as well as processed foods and things like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to introduce Killer Mike.

KILLER MIKE, RAPPER: What I have to do is drink more water, eat less sugar, exercise more.

GUPTA: What does it mean to rap about healthy food and vegetables?

KILLER MIKE: Well, 20 years ago when I was a kid, rappers rapped about not eating unhealthy. Like they were the reason we drank beer, but they were also the reason we didn't eat fried foods. So, I think that hip hop has always had the ability to convey that message.

PRINCIPAL SHANDA BEADLES, EMMA HUTCHINSON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Killer Mike's rap and his introduction into why it's important to eat healthy shows the kids that the hip hop community is OK with eating healthy. The kids also got to have an opportunity to rap about eating healthy, so they had to really think about, you know, what is healthy and how do I get across to my peers that it's OK to eat healthy.

KIDS: Throw away the candy, that's what's up.


GUPTA: Well, guys, the sad truth, just in time for Father's Day, on average, women live about five years longer than us men. Why? There are lots of reasons, but partly because men are four times less likely to go to the doctor. Many of the top 10 causes of death are preventable if detected early.

So, guys, don't ignore the aches and pains. Most importantly get an annual physical. It usually takes about an hour of your time and could have a huge pay off. I personally like to schedule my yearly physical the week of my birthday so I never forget. You should, too.

While you're at it make an appointment to come back and see us here next weekend. Next weekend, I'm going to introduce you to this man, Dr. Lawrence Egbert. Some call him the new Dr. Death. He was on trial for what people referred to as assisted suicide. He calls it the hastening of death. It's one of the most controversial issues in America today and it's next weekend right here on SGMD.

Time now to get you a check of your top stories in "THE CNN NEWSROOM".