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Sebelius Resigns as HHS Secretary; Mixed Messages from Australian Officials on Search; Fiery Highway Crash North of Sacromento; Kiev Investigating Former President Viktor Yanukovych; Heartbleed Bug Poses Internet Security Threat

Aired April 11, 2014 - 11:00   ET


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we were committed to get this done. And that's what we've done. And that's what Kathleen's done.

yes, we lost the first quarter of open enrollment period With the problems with, and they were problems. But under Kathleen's leadership her team at HHS turned the corner, got it fixed, got the job done, and the final score speaks for itself. There are 7.5 million people across the country that have the security of health insurance, most of them for the very first time, and that's because of the woman standing next to me here today. And we are proud of her for that.


That's a historic accomplishment.


That's right.


And by the way, in the meantime, alongside 7.5 million people being enrolled, health care costs under Kathleen's leadership are growing at their slowest rate in 50 years. I keep on reading folks saying, "Oh, they're not doing anything about costs," except they're growing at the slowest rate in 50 years. What does that mean? That's in part because of Kathleen's extraordinary leadership.

Health records are moving from dog-eared paper to high-tech systems. Kathleen partnered with the Department of Justice to aggressively pursue health care fraud and return billions of dollars, record sums, to the Medicare trust fund.

All told, Kathleen's work over the past five years will benefit our families and this country for decades to come.

So we want to thank Kathleen's husband Gary, the first dude of Kansas.


We've got two outstanding sons, Ned and John, who've been willing to share their mom with us these past five years.

And, Kathleen, I know that your dad, who served as governor of Ohio, and who inspired you to pursue public service, and who passed away last year, would've been so proud of you today.

So, Kathleen, we want to thank you once again for your service to our country.


Thank you.



Now, we know there's still more work to do at HHS. There's more work to do to implement the Affordable Care Act. There's another enrollment period coming up about six months from now. There's whole array of responsibilities to meet over at this large and very important agency, and I could choose no manager as experienced, as competent as my current director of the Office of Management and Budget, Sylvia Mathews Burwell.


Now, Sylvia's from a small town, Hinton, West Virgina. So, she brings the common sense that you see in small towns. She brings the values of caring about your neighbor and ordinary folks to some of the biggest and most complex challenges of her time.

She's a proven manager, who's demonstrated her ability to field great teams, forge strong relationships and deliver excellent results at the highest levels, and she's done it both in the public and private sectors.

As CLO and later president for global development at the Gates Foundation, Sylvia worked on the cutting edge of the world's most pressing health challenges.

As the head of the Walmart Foundation and a member of the board at MetLife, she gained firsthand experience into how insurance markets worked and how they could work better for businesses and families alike.

Here, as my budget director at the White House, she's already delivered results. After all, in the years since she arrived, the deficit has plunged by more than $400 billion -- I'm just sayin'.


That's happened during that time.


When the government was forced to shut down last October, and even as most of her own team was barred from reporting to work, Sylvia was a rock, a steady hand on the wheel who helped navigate the country through a very challenging time.

Once the government was allowed to reopen, Sylvia was vital to winning the two-year budget agreement that put an end to these manufactured crises that we have seen here in Washington, so that we could keep our full focus on growing the economy and creating new jobs and expanding opportunity for everybody who's seeking opportunity.

And all the while, she's helped advance important initiatives to bring the government into the 21st century, including our efforts to speed up job creation by dramatically speeding up the permitting process for big infrastructure projects.

So, Sylvia is a proven manager, and she knows how to deliver results. And she'll need to be a proven manager, because these are tough tasks, big challenges, you know, from covering more families with economic security that health insurance provides to ensuring the safety of our food and drug supply, to protecting the country from outbreak or bioterror attacks, to keeping America at the forefront of job-creating medical research -- all of us rely on the dedicated servants and scientists, the researchers at HHS and the FDA and CDC and NIH.

All of them are an extraordinary team and sometimes the American people take for granted the incredible network of outstanding public servants that we have who are helping to keep us healthy and helping to improve our lives every single day.

So I want to thank Steven (ph), you know, Sylvia's husband, and Matthew (ph) and Helene (ph) for sharing wife and mom with us a little bit longer. We'll miss seeing you around the White House, but I know that you're going to do an outstanding job as America's secretary of health and human services.

I hope that the Senate confirms Sylvia without delay. She's going to do great. Last time, she was confirmed unanimously. I'm assuming not that much has changed since that time.


And with that, I want to give them both an opportunity to say a few words, starting with Kathleen.




I want to start by thanking you, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to serve in this cabinet. I want to thank my HHS family, many of whom are here, at least the health leaders are here, for their incredible work. And my personal family, represented today by our older son Ned and my wonderful daughter-in-law Lisa. My husband, Gary, is on the bench in Kansas today doing multiple hearings, which he does each and every day. And our younger son is in Ecuador, but they're with us in spirit.

The president has already made this case, but I want to remake it. HHS is an amazing department. It's full of bright and talented and hardworking people who believe strongly in our important mission, providing health care and essential human services to all Americans.

Now inscribed on the wall of the Humphrey building, where your office will be, are the words of the namesake. And what Hubert Humphrey said is, The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children, those who are in the twilight of life in the twilight of life, the elderly, and those who are in the shadow of life. And that really, I think, describes what we do at HHS.

From our work on birth-to-kindergarten initiatives, to providing the for the elderly and disabled, our employees help their friends and neighbors every day. The researchers in NIH labs and scientists working to improve new drugs and devices are helping change the face of humanity by advancing new cures, research and innovation.

We're advancing public health in the U.S. and around the globe with anti-smoking efforts and promoting maternal and child health. Finally, behavioral health and physical health issues will be considered both part of essential treatment, and that's a big step forward.

Our workers, as the president said, look out for a safe and secure food and drug supply in a global market. And our smart diplomacy, sharing health expertise and advances win the hearts and minds of nations across the globe. We have done transformational work in tribal communities across this country that will never be the same again.

So, at any point in our history, that mission would be highly rewarding, and some of the most important work anybody could do.

But I've had an additional, amazing opportunity. No one has ever had this before. I got to be a leader of HHS doing -- during these most historic times. We are on the front lines of a long overdue national change: fixing a broken health system.

Now, this is the most meaningful work I've ever been a part of. In fact, it's been the cause of my life. And I knew it wouldn't be easy. There's a reason that no earlier president was successful in passing health reform, despite decades of attempts. But throughout the legislative battles, the Supreme Court challenge, a contentious reelection, and years of votes to turn back the clock, we are making progress: tremendous progress.

And critics and supporters alike are benefiting from this law. My professional work as a legislator, an insurance commissioner, and a governor, have been tremendously helpful in navigating the policy and politics of this historic change. But at the end of the day, health is personal. It's personal to all of us. Family illnesses and personal health challenges touch us to our core.

I've spent time as a daughter, navigating care for ill parents. As a mother and now a grandmother, I have experienced and worried about prenatal care and healthy babies. We've had family health challenges, as all of us have, and finding the right care can be difficult even with the best context and the right resources.

So, the personal reward for me, at the end of the day, are the folks who approached me. The strangers who approach me at a meeting or pass me a note on a plane, or hand me a phone with someone on the other end saying "thank you." Their stories are so heartening, about finally feeling secure in knowing they can take care of themselves and their families.

Unfortunately, a page is missing.


So, I'm just grateful for having had this wonderful opportunity.

The president was in Austin yesterday at the LBJ Library commemorating 50 years in the civil rights efforts led by Lyndon Johnson, and 50 years ago, my father was part of that historic Congress. He served in the Congress with the passage of Medicare and Medicaid with Head Start, and those programs are now in the agency I've had the honor to lead. It seems like a wonderful passing of the baton.

And the Affordable Care Act is the most significant social change in this country in that 50 year period of time, so I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. I appreciate all of the effort and support. I thank my cabinet colleagues who are here on the front row, and not only are they here today on the front row, but they've been part of an all hands on deck effort making sure that that 7.5 million people were able to sign up for affordable health care.

So, thank you, Mr. President. And what I know is that Sylvia, in the year I've had the opportunity to work with her, is a trusted and valued friend, a great partner. She will be a terrific leader for HHS.

So, I'll turn it over.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, I'm John Berman here at CNN in New York, picking up our coverage, right now.

You've been watching President Obama saying goodbye to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. She has resigned. She'll be leaving her post.

And the president is nominating Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who right now heads the Office of Management and Budget. Looking at her right now, she's making some remarks.

The president, of course, talked about the role that Sebelius has played over the last five years at the center of one of the most contentious political debates this country has seen in a generation, over the Affordable Care Act.

He, of course, pointed out that he has his bumps and bruises from this debate. She has her bumps and bruises. He also pointed out that the country lost the first quarter of the year in the signups on the healthcare Web site. It was seen largely as a disaster by many people.

But he also pointed out, in his eyes, it is the final score that matters here, and the final score here, he thinks the Affordable Care Act, the fact that 7.5 million people have signed up for it, he noted that Kathleen Sebelius will go down in history as the person who ran HHS during this period. The question remains -- will she go down in history in a positive way or a less than positive way.

One sidenote here, a lot of people will make note of the fact that during her speech saying good-bye, she lost a page of her address, a glitch that some people I think will connect to the glitches perhaps at this Web site. But the president thanked her for her role in the administration and he looks forward to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, he says, getting a rapid confirmation in the Senate. He noted that she was confirmed unanimously in her last post last year, and he hopes that not much has changed since.

All right, ahead for us @ THIS HOUR.


TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: We are very confident that the signals that we are detecting are from the black box on MH370.


BERMAN: Hopes raised by Australia's prime minister quickly dashed by the official heading the search for the missing jetliner. So why the mixed messages about pinpointing those critical pings?


BERMAN: Let's get you up to speed on the search for flight 370. Authorities have determined that the newest acoustic signal, the one picked up from the sonar buoy yesterday, likely did not come from the plane's black boxes. The plan now is for crews to keep using listening devices deep on the ocean floor for several days before deploying a remote-controlled vehicle equipped with cameras to search the sea floor.

That's according to Angus Houston, the man coordinating the search effort. His statement came shortly after the Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, really raised hopes that the plane might soon be found.


ABBOTT: We have very much narrowed down the search area and we are very confident that the signals that we are detecting are from the black box on MH370. I really don't want to say any more than that because I want to get the most up -to-date briefing between now and my meeting with President Xi later today. And as a sign of respect to China and its people and in particular the 154 Chinese victims and their families, I would like to save any more detail for the briefing with President Xi later today.

I want to say how honored I am we are now getting to the stage where the signal of from what we are very confident is the black box is starting to fade. And we are hoping to get as much information as we can before the signal finally expires.


BERMAN: All right, I want to talk about this. Let's bring in our analysts, Mary Schiavo and Jeff Wise, to break down sort of the conflicting messages that we got today from the prime minister and the head of the search.

Mary, I want to start with you and the Australian prime minister. He really indicated there that he thinks they could be within miles of finding the black boxes; however, this is the same guy who saw satellite pictures of what turned out to be sea junk a few weeks ago, went before his parliament, and said he thought they were close to finding the plane. So how much should the optimism be tempered here?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I think maybe just a little bit. If he's been briefed by the task force leader Angus Houston -- as we said, he has been pretty stoic all the way along and even lately he's been quite optimistic. So I think what's occurring and what we haven't seen yet is that they have used the algorithms with the data points that they do have, with the pings that they do have, to try to narrow in, zero down, refine the data.

And we keep going through the map of the United States, first it's Texas, then it's South Carolina, West Virginia. Hopefully we'll get to the size of Connecticut soon. But I think that's what happened and they've used algorithms to do it.

BERMAN: So to be clear, Mary is absolutely right. Angus Houston, while he said the sonar buoy detection wasn't from the black boxes, he still does seem fairly confident that they are closing in on it.

OK, Jeff Wise, Mr. Skeptical here. Let's ask about that sonar buoy. If that did not turn out to be connected to the black boxes, does that raise doubts to you about whether the other pings they thought they heard from the towed pinger locator are valid?

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, , the sonar buoy really isn't a technology that was appropriate to use in this case. The water's too deep. We wouldn't expect a sonar buoy to be able to detect a pinger that deep. And if you look at the acoustic returns that they've found, they're spread over such a large distance that, again, they should not be from the same source, whether it is the black box or not. The range of these pinger locators is only about 2.5 miles and the search area is about 12 miles across where they found these different returns. So there is a lot of reason to doubt the veracity at least some of these pings. BERMAN: Still not a slam dunk, as far as you're concerned. Mary, I want you to clear up something and I think a lot of people are asking, it's sort of the common sense question here. Everyone understands they want to keep listening with the towed pinger locator to get any signals they might get from the black boxes, but what harm would there be in putting the Bluefin, the submersible, down now and start mapping the ocean floor. Get a head start, why don't you?

SCHIAVO: I think they are concerned about interference. They know there is a limited life on the batteries and they may be gone at this point. As Jeff said, if some of these turn out to be false positives on these data points and they haven't used every last day and every last ounce of juice in the batteries to try to get every ping that they can, then they will be in the position of later on finding out that some of these are dry holes and they won't have had every possible data point that they could.

So I think they are just being overly cautious. The black boxes are where the black boxes are going to be. And so the submersibles can be put down in a day or two later, and they will still have the job -- that takes several days, but they'll have to map the ocean floor either way. And I think it can do something like 40 square miles in a day, maybe? It is a long, slow process so they want to shrink that down.

BERMAN: It is a long, slow process. There are indications it could be soon though, within the coming days. Mary Schiavo, Jeff Wise, great to have you here with us as always. Really appreciate it.

Ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, we are going to take a much closer look at this search zone. It has narrowed considerably; five weeks since the plane vanished. How close are they now? When we come back.


BERMAN: All right, some of the headlines happening @ THIS HOUR. The California Highway Patrol investigating a fiery crash that left ten people dead. They're trying to determine why a FedEx truck crossed a highway median slamming head on into a charter bus full of high school students on their way to visit a college. This happened in Orland, about 100 miles north of Sacramento. Both vehicles burst into flames on impact. Five students, three chaperones, and both drivers were killed. 35 others were taken to hospitals.

Russia's top prosecutor says he sees no reason to extradite ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych to Kiev. Ukraine's interim government this week froze the bank accounts of Yanukovych and 66 others in his government. Kiev is investigating claims of money laundering and corruption by Yanukovych and his family. The former leader is also wanted in the deaths of scores of Ukrainian protesters.

Want to check the markets. Right now, the Dow is down about 45, nearly 46 points, after JP Morgan reported earnings that fell far short of investors' expectations. Why are we telling you this? Well, stocks took a beating yesterday. The Dow suffered its third biggest point loss of the year. The NASDAQ took the hardest hit with an unusual triple-digit dive. It has come back, the NASDAQ has, a few points today.

New developments this morning on a serious threat to your personal information online. It is called the Heartbleed bug and it's affecting major websites that you almost definitely go to. They're saying it is the worst security hole the internet has ever seen, ever. Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, OKCupid, and Wikipedia -- they say they have all fixed the bug. We are told it is good idea to change your password now for these sites.