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Debate Rages Over Government-Backed Health Insurance; Dems Rally For Reform to Counter Protesters; Backlash in India Over Bollywood Star's Detention by U.S. Immigration Officials; Breaking Down Health Insurance Reform; The Truth About End-of-Life Issues; Psychological Wounds of War; Tom DeLay Will be "Dancing with the Stars," Truth About Health Care Reform and Eye Care

Aired August 18, 2009 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING. It's Tuesday, August 18th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Thanks for joining us on the Most News in the Morning. We're following several big stories that we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes, including dead or alive.

This morning the White House under pressure to say whether it's reversing course on creating a government-run health insurance program. Already, lawmakers and the president's own party are throwing up a warning flag. We're live at the White House with all the details this morning.

CHETRY: Also this morning, supporters of President Obama's health care proposal are fighting back against angry protesters at town hall meetings across the country. But is their rally for reform too little too late?

ROBERTS: And we're tracking the season's first hurricane in the Atlantic this morning. Hurricane Bill is gaining strength. Now a Category Two storm. We'll tell you where the storm is headed and just how strong it is predicted to come.

CHETRY: We begin this morning, though, with growing questions for the White House and where it really stands on creating a government-run health insurance program. For months, the president has said that a so-called public option was a must for any health care reform bill.

This weekend, though, right here on CNN, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius hinted that the administration may be stepping back from that. And this morning, the White House is saying that that's not the case. But already, members of the president's own party are sounding a warning.


REP. ANTHOY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: I would love to be one of the big supporters of the Obama plan, but I've got to know that it includes a public option. Walking away from the public option seems to me a surefire way to walking away from passing something in the House.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: It's a deal breaker because the whole idea, the kind behind health care reform is to bring down the costs. We cannot bring down the costs unless there's a public option that will create competition. We cannot turn this over to the same people who have been, you know, making the costs of health care just go off the scale.


CHETRY: Suzanne Malveaux is the only reporter live at the White House this early. And so, Suzanne, what are you hearing from your sources about this back and forth over whether the public option is a must for this administration?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, you know, the White House is bombarded with criticism yesterday. And so obviously they went into overdrive to try to push back on all of this.

So there were e-mails that went to reporters yesterday. We saw spokesman Robert Gibbs essentially saying that the administration was consistent on this position. There were talking points. They went out to dramatic lawmakers.

There are two things that they want the American people to know because they don't want them to get jittery or upset or scared that there won't be a public option. This is not something the White House says that they're abandoning, necessarily. But there are two things that they want to emphasize. One is that they want to slow down the costs of health care, the increases. And then, secondly, provide some sort of competition to private insurance companies and their plans. So that if they can achieve that, then that essentially is what health care reform is all about.

But you know, there are a lot of people who were quite worried when they heard the words from Secretary Sebelius and others who seemed to be downplaying the idea that the public option was still an option on the table -- Kiran.

CHETRY: I mean, even the president himself at that town hall or that forum that he held in Colorado said that's just a tiny fraction, or I think he said a sliver of the overall change that they want to see. So we're hearing, you know, the debate go across party lines, across the country. But what's happening behind closed doors at the White House today?

MALVEAUX: You know, Kiran, last week, it was interesting. There was one day the president didn't have any public events on his schedule and that always worries us because we think, well, what is happening here at the White House? There's going to be a press conference or something.

Well, the president was sitting down with his top staff and very quietly they were going over all their options with health care reform. And essentially they realized they didn't have the votes in the Senate supporting the public option. They want to bring on some Republicans, more Republicans, the Blue Dog Democrats, those fiscal conservative Democrats, as well as assure people, the insurance companies -- private insurance companies that believe they're going to go out of business, that health care reform is not a bad idea. So if they de-emphasize a little bit the public option, they just want to see what else percolates, what's out there -- perhaps this idea of a co-op.

And so you see kind of the back and forth here. When one is de- emphasized, another one pops up. This is all about to say, give us something, guys. And what's going to stick here? Because ultimately the health care legislation that he believes he'll sign into law is not going to look the way it looks today. It's not going to look the way it looks yesterday. And so they are just trying to get a balance, if you will, to see what is the formula that ultimately is going to get the most support.

CHETRY: Interesting you said to see what else percolates out there. And a little bit later at 7:10, we're going to be speaking with Congressman Weiner that we saw in your piece about what he said. He says that a public option, if it's off the table, it means losing dozens and dozens of House members, Democrats in the House. So we'll have to see how that plays out.

Suzanne Malveaux, thank you.

ROBERTS: President Obama taking a break from publicly pitching his plan for health care reform. He has no plans to talk about it today, and was mostly silent on the issue while traveling in Arizona yesterday. But as the president steps back from the fray, his supporters are stepping in.

Carol Costello is live in Washington this morning. And, Carol, some of these health care rallies now taking on the tone of a campaign event. You almost think you're in an election here.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Or something else. You know, the health care reform protest has taken on a sort of "I know you are but what am I" kind of quality. Democrats are now organizing to outshout Republicans at town hall meetings. Get ready for some noise.


COSTELLO (voice-over): It was like a good old-fashioned duel. On one side, those opposed, armed with sharp words.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop Obama now. Stop Obama now.

COSTELLO: And signs that cut right to the chase. But this time, Obama supporters roused themselves and fought back. But they didn't exactly throw stones. And at this protest, they didn't carry signs calling the other side controversial names.

SARA EL-AMINE, ORGANIZING FOR AMERICA: They're staying respectful. We are, you know, out for the first time I feel like it's a real turning point for us. Folks have really been focusing on the other side, and we've outnumbered them at least three to one today, if not more.

COSTELLO: The pro-Obama crowd is part of the president's organizing for America Grassroots Network, the same network that worked so hard for him during the 2008 campaign. It's just one weapon the Democrats have been using lately to combat combative town hall meetings.


NARRATOR: Why is Congressman Boehner taking the side of the insurance companies and the health care debate?


COSTELLO: These ads are part of the strategy too, paid in part by pro-Obama union groups. Some analysts say it all comes way too late.

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: A lot of Democrats would say it's about time or it's past time. The administration lost control of the message on health care. And once a president loses control of the agenda, it is very difficult to get it back.

COSTELLO: Sabato says the president never did control the message because he didn't come up with his own plan, leaving that to lawmakers who crafted several plans, all open to interpretation and rumor. Like the death panel -- want something like they want to kill grandma -- is out there -- it's tough to fight even though the president has tried.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For all the scare tactics out there, what is truly scary, what is truly risky is if we do nothing.

COSTELLO: Well, his supporters are now trying to do something more.

SUPPORTERS: Yes, we can.

COSTELLO: Even if they only succeed in drowning out the competing noise.


COSTELLO: But analysts like Larry Sabato says scary seems to be working. Although the president denies it, as you heard, his administration left some wiggle room in at least one important Democratic idea, the public health insurance option. It would force private insurance companies to compete with a government-run insurance company, so to speak. And presumably that competition would lower insurance costs. Sabato says if that idea goes by the wayside, expect the president to pass a plan but one that's been seriously scaled back -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, maybe he won't get what he wanted after all. We'll see. But these debates still ongoing, only just in the middle of it.

Carol Costello for us this morning. Carol, thanks so much.


ROBERTS: At town hall meetings, we've been hearing all sorts of claims, including talk of death panels. But what's really true about end-of-life counseling? We'll ask Laurie Jacobs. She's a geriatrician who deals with end-of-life care on a regular basis. That's coming up in just a few minutes.

CHETRY: Also new this morning, Hurricane Bill is now gaining strength in the Atlantic. The good news is it's still far from land. But the Category Two storm with winds of about 100 miles per hour could grow and could turn into a major hurricane within the next day or two. It's also on track to graze Bermuda by the end of the week. Our Rob Marciano is tracking all of it from the extreme weather center.

ROBERTS: Michael Jackson's mother is said to be considering a wrongful death lawsuit against concert promoter AEG Live. According to Katherine Jackson's attorney, AEG had a "very, very active role" in Michael's life during the last six months, including paying for Dr. Conrad Murray and the house that Jackson was staying in.

Meantime, the three-city exhibition of Jackson memorabilia is in limbo. Katherine Jackson's attorney, the executors of Michael Jackson's estate and concert promoter AEG, have been unable to reach an agreement on the exhibition which is worth about $5 million.

CHETRY: And federal health officials are scaling back estimates of just how many doses of swine flu vaccine they'll actually have ready for the fall. That's when a national vaccination program is set to begin.

About 45 million doses will be available by mid October instead of the anticipated 120 million. But officials are saying this is not a shortage. They're just blaming the delay on manufacturing issues. Clinical trials on the swine flu are now under way.

ROBERTS: OK. Well, consider the fact that you're probably just getting up and maybe didn't have a great night's sleep. Your opinion on this might be a little bit skewed. But if you had to choose between a good night's sleep or great sex, which one would you take? Well?

CHETRY: You're asking me.

ROBERTS: The Western Hotel chain and the National Sleep Foundation just asked 12,000 travelers in about a dozen countries that question. And the results might surprise you.

CHETRY: Or maybe not, depending. But 51 percent of people said...

ROBERTS: Whether you're a man or a woman. CHETRY: Right. Well, 51 percent of people -- I guess they didn't break it down yet -- said they'd rather have a perfect night's sleep over the sex. In fact, the only group that shows sex -- wait -- obviously it's 49 percent of people chose sex, right? Canadian travelers. They're the ones who are much more likely to say sex.

ROBERTS: They're a fun bunch of people.


ROBERTS: Other revelations on the study, 42 percent of people said they would rather find a sleeping pill under their pillow instead of the usual chocolate. And 60 percent say their BlackBerry has often gotten in the way of a good night's sleep while they're traveling.

CHETRY: And what does that say about us? You'd rather have a sleeping pill than chocolate?

ROBERTS: We're all after a good night's sleep.

CHETRY: I guess so.

ROBERTS: Absolutely.

CHETRY: I guess so. There's another study out that said women would rather have $50 in cold hard cash than great sex. So, go figure. Blame it on the economy.

ROBERTS: How is that surprising?

CHETRY: Well, we're going to get some reaction now to the Bollywood star who was questioned by U.S. immigration officials. A huge backlash now in India. People are saying that this is totally outrageous. But some are saying perhaps this is a bit cynical, but was some of this drummed up to promote his new documentary?

Ten minutes past the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Milwaukee's mayor is home from the hospital this morning. Tom Barrett was admitted over the weekend after being attacked at the state fair by a man with a length of steel pipe. It happened when the mayor came to the aid of a woman screaming for help. He suffered a fractured hand along with cuts and bruises. Police have a 20-year-old suspect in custody.

CHETRY: The wife of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is opening up in the latest issue of "Vogue." Jenny Sanford says she's willing to forgive her husband after he confessed to an extramarital affair with an Argentinian woman, but "the ball is in his court" if he wants to save her marriage. She also went on to say that she never thought her husband would do anything like that because he was a person -- the person that she married was "centered on a core of morals." She also went on to say that her husband has some issues that he needs to work on about happiness and what happiness means. She said that a lot of men get to this midpoint in life and start asking questions they probably should have asked a long time ago. Meanwhile, Jenny and the couple's four sons moved out of the governor's mansion this month.

ROBERTS: And next month's public memorial for the late CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite will be a star-studded affair. President Obama is one of the dignitaries scheduled to speak at the service. Others include Bill Clinton, Andy Rooney, Buzz Aldrin, Bob Schieffer and Tom Brokaw. The legendary newsman once dubbed "the most trusted man in America" died last month at the age of 92. The Cronkite memorial will take place September 9th at New York's Lincoln Center.

CHETRY: Well, he's a household name in India, the biggest star in Bollywood right now. And this morning, fans and officials in India are directing their anger at the U.S. after the movie star was stopped and questioned by immigration officials at a U.S. airport over the weekend. It was at Newark.

CNN's Mary Snow is following developments for us.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, some describe him as India's Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise all in one. That's how big he is. But Shah Rukh Khan says it's his Muslim last name that caught the attention of U.S. immigration officials and it's kicked off a firestorm he's now trying to quell.


SNOW (voice-over): He's an icon in India. Shah Rukh Khan, known for his energetic dance moves, has starred in more than 70 Bollywood movies like "Kal Ho Naa Ho," which featured scenes in New York. But despite Khan's star status when he arrived at Newark, New Jersey's airport Friday, immigration officials questioned him for roughly an hour.

SHAH RUKH KHAN, ACTOR: They keep telling me that, you know, it's because your name is common. And I was too polite to ask, common to what? You know? So it's a bit of an issue.

SNOW: As Khan posed for pictures with fans Sunday in Houston, fans in India were outraged that U.S. officials at the concept he was detained. Protesters took to the street. Some even burned an American flag when government officials suggested subjecting Americans to the same kind of treatment when they visit India. Aseem Chhabra, a columnist with the "Mumbai Mirror" says the anger isn't so much about racial profiling.

ASEEM CHHABRA, COLUMNIST, "MUMBAI MIRROR": It's more about how dare you, America, stop a very well-known, our most famous actor and insult him.

SNOW: The U.S. ambassador to India even weighed in over the weekend noting Khan is a global icon and a very welcome guest in the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection denies Khan was detained. A CBP spokesman says Khan was selected for secondary inspection which he calls routine. He would not say why Khan was singled out, citing privacy issues.

He said it caused Khan's luggage on this British Airways flight got lost. The interview lasted longer than usual. As for the anger over the incident, the CBP said in a statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection strives to treat all travelers with respect and in a professional manner while maintaining the focus of our mission to protect all citizens and visitors in the United States." Khan says he understands the need for security but adds...

KHAN: The attitude obviously is better to be safe than sorry. But in that, maybe you do tend to elongate the process for regular people who want to be -- if not welcome, at least feel not unwelcome when they come to your company.


SNOW: Khan just finished filming a movie dealing with issues of racial profiling in the U.S. following 9/11. It's called, "My Name is Khan." And while he's getting plenty of support, there are some skeptics on blogs questioning whether he's seeking publicity -- John and Kiran.

ROBERTS: Well, you know, any publicity is good publicity, right? No such thing as bad publicity.

CHETRY: Yes, especially on racial profiling when that sort of thing happens.

ROBERTS: It almost seems to be too perfect, does it?

Hey, we've been talking a lot about this, this public option for health insurance and whether or not it's going to fly or whether something that might be better would be co-ops. What exactly is a co- op? How would it work and how would it apply to the health insurance industry?

Our Tom Foreman is going to break that all down for us coming up in just a couple of minutes.

Eighteen minutes now after the hour.


ROBERTS: Many people are still finding it hard to get a loan these days. Christine Romans here "Minding Your Business" this morning with more on that.

Good morning to you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. A new survey that the fed did with a senior loan officer shows what you've all been telling us again and again every morning that it is difficult to get a loan. The banks are still reluctant to lend. And here's why. Here's what we know from the senior loan officer surveyed from the fed.

They say that demand has actually weakened for new loans. The recession has meant that more people are simply not coming in and try to get loans to grow their business, to start a new business, or expand their business. And also, these loan officers said the credit worthiness of loan applicants has worsened. That means two years into a very difficult recession, a lot of people who are coming in and think they need loans frankly don't have the credit to do so.

The credit limits are lower. The banks are lowering the credit limit. Half of the banks surveyed lowered credit limits. They're also raising the standards for credit card applicants. You have to have a better background, better standards for your credit card applicants. Lending standards in general tighter and these banks expect this to continue into next year.

So when we look at this survey compared with maybe the beginning of the year, fewer banks are saying that they're tightening their standards. But overall, the standards still remain very, very tight. And what that means is what you're all telling us. It is harder to get a loan. That's exactly the situation.

CHETRY: But in some cases, this is what they were hammered for, for not making sure that people could eventually pay them back. For not making sure that people, you know, have the ability to back up what they were trying to borrow.

ROMANS: That's absolutely right. You have a position where the banks are -- people are screaming. The public screaming for the banks to make these loans, to make money available. Look, there's stimulus money for loans. There's money -- TARP money. Think bailout money, get some money to the people. But at the same time, the banks are also being told, don't make loans that aren't going to be paid back. And we know that people are defaulting on their loans at record rates.

CHETRY: All right. You have a numeral for us this morning.

ROMANS: I do. And the numeral is 133. And this has to do with money the people are starting to get. This has offers.

This is 133 emergency stimulus loans every week of $35,000 or more. A hundred thirty-three of these emergency loans are being written every week, just getting started. Six months after the stimulus, there are emergency loans for small business available.

The rules are all written out there. They're called ARC (ph) loans. You can go to this Web site and you can see it for yourself. But there are some emergency loans that are being written for small businesses. To get this, you must have been profitable one of the last two years. So keep that in mind. If you've been profitable one of the last two years and you need some emergency money, there is the money available. So, check that.

CHETRY: And this is for businesses, not for individuals.

ROMANS: They're small businesses. That's right. ROBERTS: Good tip. Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" this morning.

ROMANS: OK, thanks.

ROBERTS: Christine, thanks so much.

So there's a provision in the House bill, health care that's going through Congress right now about end-of-life care. Sarah Palin called it death panels. But what exactly is end-of-life care?

A geriatrician from Montefiore Medical Center is going to be joining us in the next couple of minutes to break down exactly what end-of-life care issues are all about. This is something you're going to want to learn about.

Twenty-four minutes now after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Twenty- six minutes past the hour now.

In the make or break debate over health care reform, the White House is trying to clarify its position on a key piece of the plan after officials seemed to suggest the president could do without it. We're talking about the so-called public insurance option. So what does it actually mean, and what would happen if it was taken off the table? CNN's Tom Foreman is breaking that down for us.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, if you want to understand what's really happened with this whole health reform debate, think of the insurance business as a big shopping mall. There are a bunch of private stores that sell insurance. The supporters of reform say they don't really compete a whole lot with each other, so they let the prices get higher and higher. And there are people like this who really don't go anywhere and they don't fit into insurance reform.

So the goal of reformers, many of them, is to say let's have a government insurance office in the middle of this mall. They will be heavily funded. They'll give a place for these people to go so they will have some kind of place where they can have insurance. And because they're offering a lower cost alternative because they're not out to make a profit, they will force the other places to lower their prices and effectively have a sale that will benefit everyone.

Now critics of this program say that that's not what's going to happen. They say instead of having a sale, what you're actually going to have is people, they're driven out of business. They will simply be not enough business once all the people start being attracted to the more cost-less expensive government insurance.

So the bottom line is, this is the fear of those who say this is a bad idea. So, if this does not happen, then what do you look at? Well, one other option is an insurance cooperative system. What is that? Well, an insurance cooperative basically would take people all across the country who can't afford insurance no matter where they are and it would connect all of these people to each other. By connecting them, it would make it possible for these people to share the costs of their medical expenses with each other.

They would essentially form a small private insurance company that they would run with their own board of directors. It's a nonprofit, so it would also create competition for existing insurance companies but possibly push the prices down.

At least that's the theory. But this is also very much up in the air is exactly how it will work, who would be involved and what it would really cost and what the benefits might or might not be -- John, Kiran.

CHETRY: Tom Foreman for us, thanks.

And also if you want to read more about the health care debate or get some answers to your questions, go to

ROBERTS: Well, we're coming up to the half hour now and checking top stories this morning.

Former President Bill Clinton returns to the White House today. He's going to meet with President Obama this afternoon. On the agenda, of course, President Clinton's trip to North Korea where he helped win the release of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling. It is the first face-to-face meeting on the subject between the two men.

CHETRY: An update on the story that we brought you yesterday, about the bureaucratic backlog in cash for clunkers, payments to the dealers, the car dealers. Well, the Obama administration now says it is tripling the number of workers to reimburse those dealers of up to $4,500 per car.

The Transportation Department says it's hoping to have 1,100 workers processing these vouchers by the end of the week. That would be up from about 350 of those processing them last week.

ROBERTS: And chances are if you open up your wallet, you are carrying an illegal drug. Well, trace amounts of it, anyway. A new study found 90 percent of all paper money -- 90 percent of all paper money in this country is contaminated with cocaine. Researchers say the bills could become contaminated during drug deals by other bills or in currency counting machines. 90 percent -- unbelievable.

Well, it's make-or-break month for health care reform in America. And there are lots of urban legends out there including a phrase with the grave name. But it addresses a very serious issue, end-of-life care.

Joining me now to talk about this is Dr. Laurie Jacobs. She's a geriatrician and vice chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center here in New York City.

It's great to talk to you, Doctor. Thanks for coming in this morning.


ROBERTS: So end-of-life care, this provision in the House bill is described many ways, most pejoratively as death panels. And there is plenty of evidence out there to suggest that this is no way, shape, or form as death panels. What's your understanding of this provision in the bill?

JACOBS: This provisions really supports physicians to have conversations with their patients and the patient's family if they wish about care and what they would like at the end of life about what their illnesses, their prognosis, what to expect, what options they have for care, and to elicit from patients what their values are so you can decide together how to manage their care.

ROBERTS: You know, for all of the claims that these are death panels provided for in the House health care bill back in 2003. The then Bush Department of Health and Human Services was recommending very much the same thing with the exception that they didn't recommend federal funding for it.

What takes place in this consultation?

JACOBS: Well, physicians talk with patients all the time about their prognosis and their disease and what to expect. What you want to elicit is what the patient's view of their illness is. What are their values? What do they want for themselves? What is their view of their illness? The physician brings information to the conversation and the patient brings information to the conversation. And then over time as things change, you can alter your conversation to become more detailed and make some decisions together.

ROBERTS: And how do these consultations aid not only the patient, but the family members as well?

JACOBS: Well, it gives an opportunity for patients to say what they think. And many times they're afraid to approach physicians. They're afraid about what might happen to them. And this is an opportunity for the physician to elicit those fears. To reassure them that they're going to be there with them through the end, and that there are treatments that they can offer all the way along the way.

In addition, the patients can identify someone to help them make decisions that they should be unable to. Something called a health care proxy. And for families who were that proxy, it's really important for them to know what the patient wants for themselves. So that should they have to make decisions for them, they have an idea of what's important.

ROBERTS: Now President Obama has been talking about this during many of his town hall meetings that he's been holding. Most recently in Grand Junction, Colorado, pushing back against this idea that he's going to pull the plug on grandma for this legislation.

In talking about that on Saturday, he even talked about his own situation with his own grandmother. Let's listen to what he said.


OBAMA: I know what it's like to watch somebody you love who's aging, deteriorating, and have to struggle with that.


ROBERTS: So the president says he's got his own experience with this. He knows what it's all about. But this is not pulling the plug on grandma. But sometimes when you get to these end of life issues, you do have some difficult decisions to make?

JACOBS: There are difficult decisions. And some people are ready to make them, and others are not. There's no provision that forces anyone to make any decisions. The point of this provision is that we should have conversations about what patients want for themselves in form by what physicians have to offer, which is comfort and information about prognosis, and that they'll be there for them and listen to them all the way along.

ROBERTS: You know, when we talk about some of these difficult decisions, they are pointing toward the issues of living wills, do not resuscitate orders, things like that.

JACOBS: Well, those are some of the decisions. At the very end of life, do not resuscitate orders may be put in place or not depending on the patient's wishes. But there are decisions all along the way. Where they would like to be cared for. Who they would like to have care for them. What treatments they want, aggressive, not aggressive. I think the physician's role is to provide information about what their options are, and to give them a sense that they're going to care for them and provide symptom relief all the way along.

ROBERTS: I mentioned a couple of moments ago that in 2003, the Bush administration recommended end of life counseling for patients and their doctors, but did not suggest paying for it. Why is it important for there to be federal dollars to aid in these consultations?

JACOBS: Well, these conversations are often with primary care physicians. And primary care physicians are spending a great deal of time talking about prevention, talking about patient's illness. But by highlighting end of life care, by funding it, it really raises this importance. And this is a critical issue for many Americans as they age and wanting to have a say about what might happen to them in the future.

ROBERTS: It's a very important issue. Dr. Laurie Jacobs, we really thank you for coming in this morning and explaining it for us. I know you've got a tremendous amount of experience with this. And we appreciate you sharing your expertise.

JACOBS: Thank you, John.

ROBERTS: Thanks so much. We have got a series running this week. It's called "The War at Home." It's dealing with the issues that returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are dealing with. Many of those issues are mental health issues, psychiatric issues -- posttraumatic stress disorder, the threat of suicide, depression, all of that.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at just how these soldiers are trying to cope and the degree that which their illnesses force them to cope coming up in just a couple of moments. Thirty-five minutes now after the hour.


CHETRY: Thirty-eight minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. The U.S. Army is reportedly planning to put all of its soldiers, and we're talking more than one million soldiers, through intensive mental stress training. "The New York Times" says this training is the first of its kind in the military, and its meant to improve combat performance, but also to help prevent depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide. These are things that affect some of the soldiers coming back from war.

Well, this morning in the second part of our series, "The War at Home," we're looking at the psychological wounds that soldiers coming home from the battlefield are dealing with.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has our report.


MATTHEW BROWN, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: There's blood everywhere.


BROWN: A little difficult to talk about sometimes.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a tough transition from Fallujah back to small-town America for Marine Veteran Matthew Brown.

BROWN: Constantly on alert, looking around. Is that McDonald's bag on the side of the road a bomb or just a bag? Is someone trying to get me? It's just different paranoia factors that wear on you after a while.

GUPTA: Just 24 years old, he joins the one in five Iraq war veterans returning from combat with post traumatic stress disorder -- PTSD.

BROWN: People knew I wasn't right in the head anymore. I wasn't the same person. And then I couldn't explain to them that there's no way I could be the same person after the things I've done and seen is happening to me.

GUPTA: His escape, abusing prescription painkillers and alcohol. At his worst, Brown says he was drinking a fifth of liquor a day.

BROWN: The pain is always there. The pain will never go away. But I was using way more than I was prescribed to, and then drinking on top of it, it always just, I guess indirectly just trying to end it -- end the pain for a brief moment or forever.

GUPTA: Brown is not alone. Alcohol is easily accessible, inexpensive and quickly becoming the drug of choice for veterans of the Iraq and the Afghanistan conflict. In fact, the study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association found combat soldiers under the age of 30 were nearly seven times more likely to binge drink.

TOM TARANTINO, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Nobody comes home from war unchanged. So it's going to take some time to come back into normal society, to deal with the sort of media onslaught that we have in this country. The sort of sensory overload. And that the support systems that we have set up from the military in the VA are stressed to capacity that veterans are falling through the cracks.

GUPTA: Groups like Iran and Afghanistan Veterans of America are pressing Congress to devote more resources to the psychological injuries of this war. They also launched a free on-line community for veterans like Brown to get help.

BROWN: The only people who understand PTSD are the people who have it. Life is still a constant battle with PTSD, but it's a lot better now. I try to live for the people I care. I'm trying to live up to what the people that died could have been.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Louisville, Pennsylvania.


CHETRY: There you go. And you know such a difficult transition coming home, not only for the soldiers that are deployed, but also for their families. And tomorrow, we're going to continue our war at home series. I sat down with two teenage girls from California. Both of their dads were sent to Afghanistan through the National Guard. And they came up with their own solution to their loneliness and isolation. And now they're trying to travel around the country and help other girls going through the same thing.

ROBERTS: That's great. Yes, there were so many, as you said, people coming back suffering so many difficult problems. And, you know, are there enough resources out there to take care of them. A lot of people stepping up to the plate, but more definitely needs to be done.

Forty-two minutes now after the hour. So far, we've had a pretty, I guess, quiet hurricane season. But there's something out there. Hurricane Bill, which looks like it may be coming precariously close to the northeast somewhere along its track. Our Rob Marciano is monitoring it, giving you the information that you need to know. And he'll be along in just a couple of minutes. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

A live look at Atlanta right now. Currently, 72 degrees and cloudy. Going up to 88 degrees today. Keep the raincoat handy because thunderstorms are in the forecast. That sky does look a little bit threatening this morning.


ROBERTS: Forty-five and a half minutes after the hour. Rob Marciano monitoring the extreme weather here in New York. Well, not particularly in New York, but he's monitoring from New York.


ROBERTS: We got Hurricane Bill out there. And I guess the big question is just how much re-curve will that hurricane experience. And will it take it away from the northeast or toward it?



Hey, road show.

CHETRY: Yes. You've been getting suggestions.


MARCIANO: We have.

CHETRY: You went to the yo-yo -- world yo-yo championships and you also went to the longest yard sale in the world, and you bought yourself a pants.

MARCIANO: Every Friday -- and John was very jealous of me being at the yard sale because (INAUDIBLE).


MARCIANO: Here's some of the suggestions that we've gotten on the Web site. First off, and these probably aren't going to make the official list, but...

CHETRY: Don't ask people (INAUDIBLE).

MARCIANO: The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum in Lacrosse, Kansas. Apparently that has largest barbed wire collection in the world.

ROBERTS: But does it do a lot or they just sort of sit there? Because we want action here on this segment.


CHETRY: Then don't pick the Coon Dog Cemetery.

MARCIANO: That would be next. Because what people do at the Coon Dog Cemetery, John, is they just sit around and tell tall Coon Dog tales, somewhere in northwest Alabama. I know we have time for that.

Here's some action.

CHETRY: I was just going to show and finish my drink so you could show people how to do it.

MARCIANO: I'm going to show? I don't know how to do this.

CHETRY: Flip cup.

MARCIANO: The world's largest flip cup tournament. And your --

CHETRY: Lipstick on this. Sorry.

Go ahead. Do it.

ROBERTS: Your lipstick is smeared.


A little bit -- I used a larger cup. Anyway, you get the idea.

CHETRY: That's a no.

MARCIANO: So far that's the front-runner. I don't think they're going to send me there. If you have an idea, send it in to, and every Friday until we basically run out of money.

CHETRY: Or you get let go.

MARCIANO: Or we go to the Barbed Wire Museum and I get, you know, hurt really bad. That would be the action, John, at the Barbed Wire Museum testing it out.

ROBERTS: What do they got? A climbing wall there?

MARCIANO: Maybe. Maybe so. Anyway, thanks for your suggestions. We're having fun with it.

CHETRY: Hey, I have one for you, "Dancing with the Stars." Maybe Rob could try out for "Dancing with the Stars."

MARCIANO: I'm as good at that as I am flip cup.

CHETRY: All right. Well, they did release the 2009 line up by the way. There's people like Michael Irvin, former Dallas Cowboys' player. Kathy Ireland -- you remember the beautiful swimsuit model. How about this one? Tom DeLay, a former congressman and former majority leader of the house. How do you think his dance moves are? ROBERTS: I have, you know, I've never seen him dance, you know. He knew how to bob and weave certainly while he was in Congress, but does that help you dance, I'm not sure.

CHETRY: I don't know.

MARCIANO: If they're as good as Hillary Clinton, then he might have a shot.

CHETRY: See that? All right. Maybe he's getting lessons from her, you know. Maybe this will be a bipartisan effort. Still ahead, we're going to have more on what's going on with Tom DeLay being on "Dancing with the Stars."

It's 50 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Eight minutes to the top of the hour right now. You know back in the day when he was house GOP leader, Tom DeLay's preferred move was the strong arm, I guess you could say. He had the nickname "The Hammer" there in Congress. Well, now, he'll be showcasing his footwork.

ROBERTS: On "Dancing with the Stars," CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a look at the former Texas Congressman's TV two step.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not since conservative commentator Tucker Carlson good-naturedly made a spectacle of himself...


MOOS: ... has the political establishment licked its lips in so much anticipation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixteen new stars will take center stage. Tom DeLay...


MOOS: The former Republican House majority leader, also known as "The Hammer" -- no relation to this hammer.


MOOS: The other hammer tweeted the news that he'd be "Dancing With The Stars" and set up a Web site, "Dancing with DeLay." His daughter told "The Washington Post" he's already lost 12 pounds working out. In anticipation...

KARL ROVE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Get out his gun because he's shooting quail.

MOOS: ... we bring you dancing with the politicos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't believe he hasn't hurt himself yet.

ROVE: Look at him jumping up and down and ready to hop.

MOOS: From Karl Rove's rap...


MOOS: ... to the first couple's slow dance...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's a six.

MOOS: ... we let the people judge.


MOOS: For instance, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright giving Macarena lessons in the U.N. Security Council.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A brilliant show of international dance diplomacy.

MOOS: Or Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She bites her lip while she's rocking, OK?


MOOS: One of the lowest scores went to an almost legendary clip of President Bush.


MOOS: The question is, can Tom DeLay disprove the Republicans can't dance notion?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happens at the Republican Convention is bad, bad, Leroy Brown. The Democrats, bad, bad Leroy Brown.

MOOS: Barack Obama's moves were blown away by Michelle.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, oh, very nice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The moves -- oh, those were some serious moves.

MOOS: For perfect tens. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are those the hips of the first lady?

MOOS: The hand over mouth reaction...


MOOS: ... was reserved for CNN's very own Wolf Blitzer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He kind of reminded me of a bobble-head doll and I like the way they move.

MOOS: But CNN commentator Roland Martin got the highest marks.


MOOS: And a 10,108 for Roland Martin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's sitting down and he's dancing better than the last 12 people we saw.

MOOS: And when all else fails, let your partner sit on you.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHETRY: There you go. I can't wait to see it. He may surprise us all.

ROBERTS: Tom DeLay? You know, they have to do -- to Tom, he always used to wear cowboy boots, so, you know, what kind of dancing can you do in a cowboy boot except for the two step, you know.

CHETRY: I don't know, but...

ROBERTS: They're made to...

CHETRY: Yes. And they got a tango, and they may have to do a couple of other quite difficult ones so we'll see.

ROBERTS: So there's more misinformation about health care out there, such as under the new proposals, you can't get eye care until you go blind. We're debunking that one. We're bringing out the truth squad. Alina Cho is here just a couple of minutes.

It's 55 minutes now after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

It's a make or break month for health care reform. And there are more town hall meetings on tap today. But we're going beyond the talking points coming from both sides and give you some of the facts that you need. Our Alina Cho is back on the Truth Squad. And, Alina, we're hearing about this claim when it comes to eye care. What's covered in that? There seems to be some scary stuff floating around out there about eye care.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is floating around. And like many rumors out there, it is being floated on the Internet.

Good morning, guys.

Good morning, everybody.

You know, it is a pretty shocking one. Much of what we're seeing is flooding around over chain mails, and this is the case here. We even got a question from a viewer about this.

Florence in North Carolina who wrote, quote, "I got a disturbing e-mail that said the new health bill would not help a person with macular degeneration until they lost the vision in one eye first. Is this true?"

First, let me tell you what macular degeneration is. It is an eye disease that can gradually destroy your vision. It's more common the older you get. It's actually the leading cause of blindness for people 65 and older affecting some 10 million Americans. So it's a pretty big problem. That's fine. But the question is, is it in the health care bill?

Well, to be clear, there's still no final bill. Many people know that. But we have pored over the thousand pages in the House version and the 600 pages in the Senate bill, and we found no sign of macular degeneration. No -- the word macular, the word degeneration, the word eye wasn't even there. And beyond that, no special rules governing eye health.

So where is this claim coming from? Well, here's what we found. In a commentary about the stimulus bill -- the stimulus bill published by "Bloomberg News" back in February, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCoy said, quote, "In 2006, the UK health board decreed that elderly patients with macular degeneration had to wait until they went blind in one eye before they could get a costly new drug to save the other eye." McCoy was arguing that the stimulus bill, again, the stimulus, not the health care bill, would lead to similar rationing. So it appears her words were taken out of context.

And, well, you know the rest. So the verdict on this one, pretty clear, false.

There is no -- I waiting for the sound effect.

CHETRY: You wanted a...

CHO: I wanted some sort of sound effect.

CHETRY: There you go.

CHO: Thank you. No such rule governing macular degeneration or even eye health in any version of the health care bills that Congress is currently considering.

You know we were doing these truth squads during the campaign. We always have this great -- we got to work on those sound effects.


CHO: Nonetheless...

CHETRY: But...

CHO: We're going to be bringing...


CHETRY: (INAUDIBLE) out there, people can find it, a link to as well. We're putting a lot of this up on our site.

CHO: We got the whole truth squad team, and they're looking at every aspect of health care legislation. This is obviously something that a lot of people care about. And President Obama, as you know, he wrote an op-ed piece in "The New York Times" over the weekend to get the message out there, and we're watching it, too.

CHETRY: All right, Alina, thanks so much.

CHO: You bet.

CHETRY: Meanwhile, if you have a question, if you're not really sure if you're getting the full story out there, or if you've heard a claim about health care reform that maybe doesn't sound right, give us a call, tell us about it. And we'll try to get to the bottom of it 877-my-amfix.

And, again, your health care questions, you can go to our special Web site,