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Bill Clinton Talks Obamacare; Ariel Castro Found Hanged; 9/11 Flag Missing.

Aired September 4, 2013 - 11:30   ET




I want to take you live to Little Rock, Arkansas, to the Clinton Presidential Center, President Clinton's presidential library, where he is just being introduced right now. If you're not aware of a three-year-old law called Obamacare, you're about to hear what it means for you for the next month in particular because the open enrollment for Obamacare begins in a month. And yet, so many Americans, A, didn't know it existed still. B, are not clear about what it means to them and what they need to do. And, C, they're not aware of a massive campaign push that is about to start. It is like an educational push for information, particularly for young people. Because when you have a big insurance pot, you need a lot of young people to boost those dollars up because the older people tend to use it more. This is why the president is going to kick off this big campaign. But you're about to see deejays, librarians, states leaders, pharmacies, celebrities and insurance companies also jumping on this bandwagon. And the Baltimore Ravens, a football team, Super Bowl champs, will also get on board and join this education push.

I want to bring our chief domestic affairs correspondent, Jessica Yellin, who has been covering this story today.

Jessica, this is the explainer in chief, now dubbed the secretary of explaining stuff, at his best when he gets an opportunity to speak to the people.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN DOMESTIC AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ashleigh. The White House is not shy about referring to him that way. They have had a challenge trying to communicate health care's advantages. And former president Clinton does not just explain things well, but he is seen as somebody who has a special connection to people who are in Latino communities, African-American communities, some of the communities that are most under served by the health care system and most in need of enrollment for the system to work. So while he is speaking to an audience there, that's doctors, professionals, and it is intended now to reach out to journalists and professionals who will spread his message, the hope is that this message will also reach out to some of the people who are not aware of what it takes to get enrolled in health care reform, and do it before the enrollment period begins next month.

BANFIELD: Jessica, let me just jump in right now. The former president, Bill Clinton, is about to address this audience and the greater audience.



BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Governor, Senator and Mrs. Pryor, Speaker Carter, Senator Lamberole (ph), Senator McDaniel, all of the other officials here and my friends of many years.

But first, I want to thank Mara for her introduction and for sharing a little of her story.

Today, the work my foundation does on health care in America largely concentrates on the issue of childhood obesity, and the role that plays in dramatically increasing rates of type-two diabetes, the kind you get from living. But we can never forget that there are people like Mara who were born with conditions like type-one diabetes, and that these two conditions combined account for an enormous percentage of health care spending because of the consequences that they bring to the people who bear them and their families. And if not adequately treated, they can shrink rather than increase the horizons of our gifted young people.

So thank you for being here.

My work today in health care is mostly, as I said, trying to improve the health care of the baby boomer generation so we don't bankrupt all the rest of you.


But around the world, I work with people with no money, no health care system, no nothing, all of the things we take for granted. However, all this work began when I was attorney general, worrying about the quality of health care (INAUDIBLE), or when I was governor, to try to deal with the fact that there were still substantial numbers of rural communities where people had virtually no access to health care, where it was not possible to deliver a baby safely, where the infant mortality rate was well above the national average. So I have been involved in this subject for a long time. And I have believed that the role of government was to work with the private sector, the nongovernmental groups, and communities and ordinary citizens, essentially to empower people to have better life stories. And that is what this whole issue is about.

I have agreed to give this talk today because I'm still amazed at how much missed understanding there is about the current system of health care, how it works, how it compares with what other people in other countries pay for health care, and what kind of results they get, and what changes are actually occurring now and are going to occur in the future. So I have done something unusual for me. I actually wrote this whole thing out.


I am going to try to use very few adjectives.


Explain how this works, what has been done, what has to be done, talk about the remarkable work that has been done in Arkansas, thanks to the governor and leaders of the House and Senate and the bipartisan coalition here, and what lies ahead. And I'm going to argue as best as I can that we'll all be better off whether we support it or oppose the president's reform law. Whether we like it or don't, we would all be better off working together to make it work as well as possible to identify the problems and fix them instead of keep replaying the same old battles. That is my belief. And I hope that I can persuade you that it is correct, and that we should support leaders like the governor and the leaders of the House and Senate here, all over America, who are just trying to figure out what is best for the people and get the job done.

In 2010, nearly 100 years after President Theodore Roosevelt first proposed affordable health care access for all Americans, Congress adopted and President Obama signed the Affordable Health Care Act. The bill was designed to address the two biggest problems of the American health care system, it's extraordinary cost and last of coverage. And to so in a way that improves not just the quality of our health care. Before the bill passed, just 84 percent of the American people had insurance coverage, and we were spending almost 18 percent of our GPD, 17.9 percent of our national income on health care. That's about $2.5 trillion. Other countries at our income level cover everybody and do it for far less costs. Between 9 percent GDP -- that's Japan -- and 12 percent of GDP -- that's the Netherlands and Switzerland -- with countries like Germany and France in the middle. The difference between 17.9 percent and 12 is $1 trillion a year. A trillion dollars if you go to pay raises or to hire new employees or to make investments that would make our economy grow faster or to provide more capital to start small businesses or expand others, or to support diverse buying and strengthening agriculture, you name it. A trillion dollars is a lot of money to a highly competitive global economy. It would be worth it if we got a trillion dollars of better health outcomes. But that's not what the research shows. It shows we rank first by a country mile in the percentage of our income we spend on health care and no better than 25th to 33rd among all nations in our health outcomes.

Health care costs keep wages down, business profits down, economic growth down. Accounted for 60 percent of the personal bankruptcy filings before the economic crash. And every single year, for an entire decade now, they have been going up at three times the rate of inflation, manifesting themselves in higher premiums, higher co-pays, and higher deductibles.

The costs are so high for several reasons. Almost everybody pays health-care providers for each procedure, medical device or service. Not for the overall quality of health care. In most states, health insurers have almost no competition. In 80 percent of states, one or two companies have 80 percent of the market. Therefore there is very little constraint either from competition or regulation on limiting prices or their ability to not cover people with preexisting conditions or to do so at unaffordable prices. The paper work cost of our system, because there's so many different people paying into it, are incredibly high, about a dime on the dollar higher than the next most-expensive country in the world. That's a lot of money. And we all pay for that. We also pay more for drugs than people in other wealthy countries, about $70 billion a year more. And as I said earlier, our lifestyle has led to a higher number of preventable problems than citizens of other county trips have, especially diabetes and the conditions related to it.

Now, the Affordable Care Act is designs to address these issues by improving health coverage available and more affordable to all Americans. By improving health care delivery and paying for it based on its quality, not the number of procedures performed and products provided and by providing more affordable options for uninsured people and small businesses. That is what Arkansas Governor B.B. (ph), and the legislators are leading the country, I think, in bipartisan efforts to do.

Now the law has generated a lot of opposition, as we all know.


It has been attacked from the left, believe it or not, for not having a public option, that is, for leaving the insurance companies with too large of a role in health care. And it has been attacked from the right for increasing the role of government in health care delivery. People who are already ensured have been told they're about to lose what they have. Small businesses have been told they will be priced into insolvency. Poor people without coverage have been told they won't be able to afford it when it comes. In Congress, there have been 40 votes to appeal this law, but no real alternatives to fix the system. Opposition has been fierce in many states, which matters, because states are given a very big role in implementing this. Something --


BANFIELD: It is a critical message that you're hearing the former president Clinton begins to deliver to the American people. He is the first of many dignitaries and officials from the administration who are rolling out a big education push on what Obamacare is, what your role in it is. Hint, if you don't have insurance, you could get fined. He is now laying out the case for where you can find it, what the health care exchanges are, and what you need to do to be part of it as the open enrollment season begins in a month and lasts six months.

Our chief domestic affairs correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is listening in with me.

One thing that I think is so important, Jessica, and this was a huge argument that many of the critics brought up -- 51 percent of Americans generally don't get this. They don't understand. They don't have enough information on what Obamacare is all about, and that's that. But even worse, 62 percent of young Americans, 18 to 25, say they don't have enough information. Jessica, isn't that all basically on a foundation of young people paying into a pot they don't use as much as older people?

YELLIN: You're absolutely right. In that, they need for this system to work. The health care system needs for young people to start to enroll. They need to start signing up. So it's very important that young people start getting informed about the system, and start signing up for their health care exchanges and get involved. That's why I think you will see more celebrities, like funny or die, and some of the young stars that have come into the White House start putting out ads that are amusing on television and that short of thing.

What you're hearing Bill Clinton do right now is lay out a case that is just starting, and I bet by the time he's done, he will sound a lot more revved up, like that passionate Bill Clinton we're used to hearing. It might take an hour or so to get there. Who knows?


But one thing that struck me, Ashleigh, is you heard him roll in his experience with health care reform with President Obama's experience in this respect. President Obama made his case for reform all about cost and how much it is costing America. When Bill Clinton tried to argue for health care reform, it was about compassion and how many more people need to get coverage. And at the beginning of this speech, he said this is about both coverage and cost and I'm going to show you why. By the end of the speech, I bet you will hear him try to make the case that Americans should care for both of those reasons.

BANFIELD: And when Ted Cruz talks about Obamacare, it's all about how expensive it is and how the America public needs to defund it. So who knows if that campaign of the critics of Obamacare will be as loud in the coming months as this campaign.

YELLIN: I think that is why Clinton is trying to add in the coverage. You can't win this debate -- Democrats can't win this debate on cost alone. So there has to be the -- they think they have to have a compassion component.

BANFIELD: Well, get set because we're about to hear a lot more about this in the next 30 days.

Jessica Yellin, thank you for that.

Coming up, I want to give you updated information on the suicide in his prison cell of Ariel Castro. You will not believe what the county prosecutor has said about this suicide, the death, the passing of that man. Let me give you a hint, he is mad. We'll going to read it for you in just a moment.



MICHELLE KNIGHT, KIDNAPPING VICTIM: I will live on. You will die a little every day as you think about the 11 years and atrocities you inflicted on us. The death penalty would be so much easier. You don't deserve that. You deserve to spend life in prison. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: That emotional and brave statement from Michelle Knight who survived innumerable physical, psychological and sexual assaults from Ariel Castro for 11 years, but she's not going to get her wish, her wish that he suffer in prison for the rest of his life because, last night, that man hanged himself in his prison cell using his bed sheet. He was pronounced dead at a hospital nearby about an hour later.

Now we have statement from the prosecutor, Tim McGinty. Here is what the chief prosecutor had to say about that suicide: "These degenerate molesters are cowards. They con and capture vulnerable children. This man couldn't take for even a month a small portion of what he had dished out for more than a decade. Let this be a message to other child kidnappers. There will be a heavy price to pay when you are caught. You won't enjoy the captive side of bars."

Absolutely chilling comments from the county prosecutor.

Our George Howell is live in front of what was Ariel Castro's home. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

Just a remarkable statement and a remarkable development in this story, George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, very strong words from that prosecutor. But when you look at Ariel Castro's attorney, it's a different story. He points to his client's mental state and says, basically, knowing what he knows, knowing what was revealed in court, more should have been done at this facility to keep watch of him. Keep in mind, back in 2004, he penned an apparent suicide note indicating he had problems. Also, in many ways, blaming the victims in this case. But the attorney basically making the point that, given what we know from that note, more should have been done at this facility. He was very closely watched. Every 30 minutes these guards would come through in staggered shifts to watch the inmates, but the attorney says that was not enough. Take a listen to what he had to say.


CRAIG WEINTRAUB, ARIEL CASTRO'S ATTORNEY: We made a request to the prison for us to have an independent evaluation done. We did that roughly two weeks ago, a specific request to the warden of that prison and our request was denied. If they did a forensic evaluation with him recently, then he should have been on a suicide watch. And there shouldn't have been a watch every 30 minutes. There should have been somebody outside of his cell more frequently.


HOWELL: Ashleigh, there will be an investigation here. The question, why wasn't he under a suicide watch here. That's what the attorney wants to know because, again, he says that more should have been done to keep watch of him in that cell. BANFIELD: So many people torn between wanting him to suffer a lifetime behind bars and other says good riddance, you'll be forgotten quickly.

George Howell, thank you, live for us in Ohio.

The untold story of the September 11th attack. What happened to that flag? Remember the one that was raised right there by the three firemen right on the site of the pile, the debris of the World Trade Center? Yeah, it's a mystery. That's ahead.


BANFIELD: That iconic flag that was raised over the wrecked World Trade Center has gone missing, and it's an unbelievable mystery.

Our Jason Carroll looks at it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It deserves to be up in the sky.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would think it would be in the museum.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the image seen around the world, three firefighters raising this flag from the ruble of Ground Zero. The photo, taken on the afternoon of September 11, 2001.

CHRIS PEDATE (ph), CORRESPONDENT, FOR THE RECORD: Everything had this grayish, blue tint to it. And there you saw the red, white and blue. I sat there and said that's an incredible picture. Danielle was standing behind me and she said, that's not a picture, it's an icon.

CARROLL: An iconic image that became the symbol of American resolve.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: My goodness. That was quite a picture. Whoever thought of taking it at exactly that time while the firefighters were doing it performed like a tremendous service to the country.


CARROLL: In the weeks and months to come, Americans saw what they thought was the 9/11 flag raised at the World Series and on battleships in the Middle East, but it wasn't, as revealed in a CNN film documentary, "The Flag."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We knew right away it was the wrong flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is another flag that became substituted for the original flag. Where's the original flag?

CARROLL: The documentary tracing the flag from the original owners to many who believe they had contact with it.

The film's director says the documentary is not only about the mystery of the flag but what it represents.

MICHAEL TUCKER, FILM DIRECTOR: That sense of unity, the sense of how we felt in those days and weeks after 9/11, that's really something we've also lost.

CARROLL: The film not only trying to recapture that feeling but trying to help put an end to the mystery. CNN has already received some credible tips but, so far, none have led to the authentic patriotic symbol that fateful day in American history.


BANFIELD: Jason, what if people know anything about this? How do they let on the tips?

CARROLL: Couple of things. What you can do, if you have a tip, you can go to and click on the link there. Leave any information you have. You can send an e-mail to

So hopefully, if it's already started to happen, more will start to come in.

BANFIELD: Yes. I have a couple of tweets I'm sending out during the special tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing that.

CARROLL: 9:00.

BANFIELD: Thank you, Jason.

And don't miss that debut of "The Flag," tonight at 9:00 eastern right here on CNN.

Meantime, thanks so much for watching, everyone. AROUND THE WORLD starts right now with Suzanne Malveaux and Michael Holmes.