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Medicaid Recipients Work; Search for Survivors in California; Trump's First In Office Medical Exam; New Documentary on Wildlife Conservation. Aired 9:30-10:00a

Aired January 11, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Poor health, women are pregnant, people in areas with very high employment.

And, John, really interesting, it also specifically calls out the opioid epidemic, saying that time spent in treatment can count toward this mandate to work or community involvement and people in intensive recovery programs can be excused from this requirement. Many governors you know, including Republican governors, have defended the Medicaid program as critical to addressing the substance abuse crises. Medicaid, of course, covers now nearly 75 million low income children, adults, elderly, disabled Americans.

Republicans have long wanted to add these work requirements. President Obama expanded Medicaid coverage to millions more low income, working age adults without these work requirements. That administration just focused on getting people covered. Critics say Republicans are just using this, John, to thin the Medicaid rolls. They fear recipients won't be able to meet this mandate and will lose insurance.

We're also keeping track on the stock market this morning. Major averages, John, looking to rebound after some losses yesterday. One potential mover I have my eye on, Walmart. Walmart raising its minimum wage again, handing out tax cut bonuses because of the new tax law. Workers will make at least $11 an hour starting next month. Employees will be eligible, some of them, for a bonus of up to a grand.

You know, the retailers have the biggest to gain from the tax bill. You know, you look at 35 percent tax rate all the way down to 21 percent tax rate. Walmart has the money to do it. It's going to raise wages again. Also it's in a food fight with Amazon and other online retailers, so it behooves them to keep their employees happy.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Christine Romans, great to have you here with us. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: All right, it is a race against time in California. Hundreds of search and rescue crews digging through rivers of mud looking for missing victims in the deadly mudslides there. New developments ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [09:36:24] BERMAN: A desperate search underway for survivors in southern California. Deadly mudslides in Santa Barbara County killed at least 17 people, including children. Seventeen people at least still missing. Also, the much traveled 101 freeway closed in the area, at least until Monday, while first responders search for signs of life.

Paul Vercammen is live for us in Montecito, California, right now.

Paul, what's the latest?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, as you look behind me, you can see just one of the many homes damaged or destroyed, some 100 homes completely destroyed and 300 damaged by this mudslide just to give you a sense from the depth of it. If I just took one little step in this direction, you would see how deep I would sink in right here. This is just a slushy mess and this is what these search and rescue crews are going to have to deal with today, John, when they go through places like this and houses and creek beds and debris basins and debris flows.

You'll note that there's that orange x on this. This means that a search and rescue team has been through here already. But here's the word that we're starting to hear and this is what makes this very sad and grim. They say 17 are still missing and there are more and more calling it search and recovery, because as the hours wage on, the chances of finding survivors alive are less. In this area where I am right now, in Montecito, there's talk of two missing sisters and an entire neighborhood with a colossal lump in its throat as they worry about these sisters.

And there's just a lot of stories about this. It was just such a quick, rapid, raging mudslide that tore through here. In many instances, we know that people just didn't have a chance to get out, John. And they've also put kind of a number on the scope of it, 19,000 acres ravaged by this -- we'll call it now the Thomas flood.

BERMAN: Paul Vercammen for us out in California. Paul, thanks so much for your reporting. Appreciate it.

Well, questions have been raised recently about the president's stability. Tomorrow we could learn more about his fitness. The president's first medical exam since taking office.


[09:42:45] BERMAN: So, President Trump undergoes his first physical exam as commander-in-chief tomorrow. His personal doctor during the campaign professed that Donald Trump would be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency. So what will we find out tomorrow?

Joining us now, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, thanks so much for being with us.

At this point, you know, the president's personal physician during the campaign aside, what do we know about the president's health?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we kind of know the basics I would say, John. We know his height, his weight. He's 6'3", he says 236 pounds, making him a little bit overweight. We know that there's a concern about cholesterol levels for him. A concern about -- he takes a staten medication. He also takes an antibiotic for rosacea. He takes Propecia for hair loss. He takes a low dose aspirin. These are all things that were released as part of a summary of his -- of his overall health.

But that's -- that's -- you know, those are sort of the basic things that we know. We've gotten some more insights, not so much from his doctors or his medical exam in the past, but more from his recent descriptions of his diet, for example. But in terms of his objective medical records, there's just the basics that we have so far.

BERMAN: So what will we learn, and I suppose just as importantly, what will we not learn tomorrow?

GUPTA: Yes, that's a good way of phrasing it. You know, first of all, in terms of what we learn. You know, a lot has been made about his lifestyle and the stresses of the presidency. He -- we will -- I guess the best way to describe it, we'll get an idea of what the impact of those things have been on his health to some extent. Have they affected his cholesterol levels. Have they increased his risk for heart disease, for example.

He will likely also get asked questions about things like anxiety, about stress, about depression. Those are pretty standard questions that get asked, even in a primary medical exam.

What we -- what we won't get, it sounds like, the White House has telegraphed this, is any more details sort of about his mental health. Even things like a mini mental status exam, which takes five to ten minutes. Doesn't sound like it's going to be done. Certainly no evidence that a brain scan or anything like that would be done. No neuropsychiatric evaluation, things that might find even things like early onset dementia. Those things aren't, to be fair, are not typically done as part of just a physical exam, but we're hearing specifically that they won't be done in this case either.

[09:45:02] BERMAN: You know, Sanjay, I know you've thought a lot about this. Where's the line between a person's -- even the president's right to privacy and the American people's right to know or to be assured of the president's fitness to lead?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's -- we've thought about this a lot, as you know. We've been reporting on this for 16 years. I'd say if there's a line, it's heavily tilted towards privacy, you know, in terms of the president. Not only -- there's no standard requirement to even have these exams, let alone any requirement to release any of the results.

If there is an imminent danger that the doctor, in this case Ronny Jackson or the team that's with Dr. Jackson, finds that there's an imminent danger either to the president or because of the president, then that could actually trigger some sort of release of information. It is a very, very tough thing to discern. It is probably not -- almost guaranteed not something that's going to happen quickly. That would be the focus of a lot of discussions. But that would be sort of the criteria. That is the medical sort of interface, if you will, with the 25th Amendment, which could remove somebody from office. Not likely to happen though, John.

BERMAN: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, I am sure we will be hearing from you tomorrow and going forward after the exam itself. Thank you so much, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You got it.

BERMAN: All right, one story we have our eye on this morning, a political scandal in Missouri. The governor admits to having an affair, but he is denying allegations that he blackmailed the other person involved with a nude photo to keep them quiet.


[09:50:55] BERMAN: From Cecil the Lion to Harambe the Gorilla, the new CNN film "Trophy" takes an inside look at controversial big game hunts, the dangers animals can pose to the public, and the effort to save some of the world's most venerable species. Here's a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's human nature to be empathetic with the individual. And so the animal rights organizations, that's their thinking is the individual, as if that's somehow going to protect the entire area, it's going to protect the whole ecosystem. And it's not. So they think in terms of Bambi or Simba or Fefe (ph), because we can see Fefe and we know Fefe and we sent out photographs of Fefe's to our donors.

And that's great, OK. But Fefe might be in the right middle place and she's right in the most protected area and we're ignoring everywhere else around the periphery. And all people are cutting away and they're felling forests and they're clearing land and they're bringing their livestock right next to Fefe. And it all goes.

They're ignoring the fact that local people are being killed by loins, being trampled by elephants, they're losing their crops, that they do not share their value system. If you cannot empathize with the local people, then you're not going to be at all successful in protecting them in the long term.


BERMAN: All right, the directors of "Trophy" join me now, Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau.

And, guys, you know, Christina, why did you decide to make this film?

CHRISTINA CLUSIAU, DIRECTOR, "TROPHY": You know, I think initially we started at a place where Shaul came across photos online of somebody standing over a trophy that he had just killed. He was outraged. And I grew up in a place where hunting is a pastime in northern Minnesota. I'm not a hunter myself, but what we saw, as we went into Safari Club International and saw how huge this industry actually was, and we realized that the importance is looking at how -- when you place economic value on animals is this possibly a tool to help conservation.

BERMAN: Let's talk about that because one of these concepts that you do explore is the idea that hunting big game can somehow protect them. It sounds counterintuitive. Does it work?

SHAUL SCHWARZ, DIRECTOR, "TROPHY": It could. Look, as Craig Packer (ph) said in the clip, we need to look at all these different ways to bring value to the game, right? And when local people -- we -- you know, they don't see it like we do. They see elephants and they're destroying their fields. Loins -- if we had a lion running around New York, suddenly we wouldn't be happy.

So how do we get local people to want to take care of these creatures? One way is economic value. And in certain places tourism works great. In other places, hunting can work. Now, you have to do that very, very carefully. If you over hunt, if you don't pay attention to quotas, if there is corruption, that will fail. But the idea that just because it's very appalling to me to hunt that will never work, we found does wrong. And so I think what we try and do in "Trophy" is get people to be open minded about the subject, which is challenging.

BERMAN: Was there anything that really surprised you in the filming of this?

CLUSIAU: You know, for me, I think one of the hardest things was when we were witnessing an elephant hunt and it was something that you -- pulls at your heart strings. It really shocks you and you're very torn up about it. And it's something that you can't really grapple with. But then an hour later, the villages came in and they harvested all the meat from the animal. And I think the one thing that really shocked me was that I realized then that my relationship to these creatures is something that is entirely different than their relationship to it.

BERMAN: Shaul, is there anything you want to see change about hunting and conservation going forward?

SCHWARZ: I think it's one of these issues that is very polarizing. We don't tend to talk to each other. And I think if we -- we all want the same thing here. We want these creatures to be on this earth forever. I really believe that. Hunters, animal rights movement, all of us. And so it's going to take all of us to get there because right now the numbers are extremely bad.

So I think what we're trying to do is create dialog. Something I mean generally we need in this country at the moment. But on this subject it's unique because we want to get to the same place. And that's what we hope to see on issues like the rhino horn. The -- you're either against or for legalized (INAUDIBLE). It sounds horrible. But maybe there is an economic model here that can help. We just need to take a breath, be a little less emotional. [09:55:21] BERMAN: It sounds like it will provoke a whole lot of

discussions, guys, and maybe surprise some people.

Shaul Schwarz, Christina Clusiau, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

CLUSIAU: Thank you.

SCHWARZ: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right the CNN film "Trophy" airs Sunday night, 9:00 Eastern, that is right here on CNN.

BERMAN: White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway says that nobody in the White House talks about Hillary Clinton. Really? Nobody? Fact check. They do.