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Health Care Reform Passes; Strike at British Airways

Aired March 22, 2010 - 10:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Amid the health care noise supporters of immigration reform don't want their cause forgotten. Tens of thousands of people, many holding U.S. flags and signs, rallied on Washington's National Mall yesterday. Speaking by video to the crowd, President Obama says he'll do everything in his power to reach a bipartisan deal this year.

And checking on their investment, Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton headed to Haiti today to see how recovery efforts are going. Their fund has raised $37 million for relief so far. This will be President Clinton's third trip to Haiti since the quake; it's the first for President Bush.

And check out this video. A volcano erupted beneath a glacier in Iceland. More than 600 people have been evacuated now and there is concern that even more people could be affected if lava flows toward that glacier triggering dangerous floods. It's the first time this volcano has erupted since 1821.

After months of debate and miles of division, even on this, the morning after the overhaul's historic passage, there is no common ground in Washington.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's about every parent who knows the desperation of trying to cover a child with a chronic illness only to be told no again and again and again. It's about every small business owner forced to choose between insuring employees and staying open for business.



REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: We have failed to listen to America and we have failed to reflect the will of our constituents. And when we fail to reflect that will, we fail ourselves and we fail our country.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Motions have flared on both sides of the issue, but they sometimes boiled over this weekend as the vote grew nearer. Here's one of the more vile outbursts and it happened inside the House chambers. Listen closely as a Democrat is heckled during a debate over abortion funding.


REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN: The motion to recommit does not promote life. It is the Democrats who have stood up - it is the Democrats who have stood up - suspend. Those who are shouting out are out of order.



PHILLIPS: Now, that outburst in case you missed it was "baby killer." Representative Bart Stupak is an anti-abortion Democrat and in fact, was scheduled to receive an award for his stance. But because of his vote and support of the overhaul, the anti-abortion rights organization is withdrawing it.

Here is the group's statement. "Let me be clear: any representative including Representative Stupak, who votes for this health care bill can no longer call themselves pro-life. Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund will not endorse or support in any capacity any member of Congress who votes for this bill in any future election."

Now Stupak was not the only congressman subjected to insensitive name-calling. Democrats John Lewis and Barney Frank were harassed by protesters. Frank, who is openly gay said demonstrators yelled sexual slurs at him and Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement said protesters actually called him the n-word.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I think there is a great deal of frustration and just outright anger, people being mean to each other and I think there's something loose in the land that has created a climate, this environment which we need to just pause for a moment and return to the way we did or tried the to do in another period.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Individuals are responsible for themselves, but there are leaders of the Republican Party and elsewhere who kind of egg these people on, who legitimize not simple disagreement with the bill which is, of course, what people should be doing, but a denunciation of people's motives, personal views. That's really unfortunate.


PHILLIPS: Unfortunate and it continues to getter more vile. Another Democrat Representative Emmanuel Cleaver of Missouri says that a protester actually spit at him. All right. Now that health care reform has passed, here's some of what you will see right away. Small businesses can get up to 50 percent of their insurance premiums as tax credits. Those who feel that they were unfairly denied coverage by their insurance company will be able to appeal to an independent panel. Seniors not currently covered by the Medicare part D drug benefit will receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions. Insurance companies will not be allowed to set coverage caps for serious illnesses, including cancer. Now adult children up to age 26 can be covered by their parents' health insurance and a $5 billion fund will provide temporary coverage for uninsured people with pre-existing conditions, including children.

So what are people saying this morning? CNN's John Zarrella is taking the pulse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Bumping from table to table, enjoying a good breakfast and getting some good insight as well. Hey, John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Kyra, really have. And it's interesting. Many people that we have talked to already - small business owners, some other folks have said to us, "look, you know, we don't like this. We think it is too much big government interference or we are not sure how this is going to shake out, really don't quite, you know, understand all the ramifications of this health care bill." Like many of us don't understand all the ramifications.

You know, Chris (ph) right here next to me - he is from Australia. He's happy with his health care. So we can't talk to Chris about it. I have Derek here and Scott. And Derek, you were telling me that, you know, you actually - you're in favor of this, even though in the past - you're an independent now, but in the past you have leaned a little bit more towards Republican ideals.

DEREK: That's correct. I'm very happy that the bill has passed. It's been long in the running. I mean, a few administrations have been working toward a new reform health care plan. You know, it's not perfect. There's always going to be a lot of issues with coming from both sides, but my biggest issue is that we have two big political parties - Republicans and Democrats that seemed to be more focused on fighting each other and preventing one another from making progress instead of really focusing on, you know, what the needs of the people and the nation are.

It's very obvious that, you know, we're unbalanced at the moment. There are too many people in this country that are not getting the health care they need. And you know, it's a big problem. So I'm glad to see that we are making some progress. It is not a perfect solution, but it's progress.

ZARRELLA: Do you worry about the fact that you might have to pay more in taxes or, you know, you're unsure how it might affect you - the health care bill or you're OK with it?

DEREK: You know, of course, we're always concerned about taxes being, you know, not efficiently utilized. That's the biggest thing. Yes, you know, I don't like taxes entirely because I'm concerned to how well they're going to be spent and if it's going to go to the right areas. Now, there's always going to be a certain amount that is not utilized efficiently and I'm aware of that, but at the same time you got to look that I do feel responsible to help out and help the nation as a whole and I'm willing to give a little bit more for that. So -

ZARRELLA: Great, Derek. Thanks so much. And you know, again, Kyra, a lot of folks (INAUDIBLE) and really we have had about a 50/50 split in the folks that we have been able to chit-chat with, even in between these live shots. People saying that, you know, that really it is government interference, it's too big, they should have taken smaller chunks and not bit off all of this at once.

So a real broad cross section, probably a 50/50 split. People who think the health care bill is a really good idea and those that either don't like it or are skeptical about it. Kyra?

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll keep talking. A lot of responses coming throughout the morning, into the afternoon and into the evening and for days down the road. John Zarrella, thanks so much.

And CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here to answer some of the questions that you have been sending us about health care. Let's get right to it because we have gotten a lot of e- mails. This one coming from our viewer via Twitter. "What if you were laid off? Would you still get fined if you could no longer afford health insurance?"

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a great question. Because this bill does require Americans to get health insurance. That's one of the ways that we'll be able to pay for this as a country. But what this bill does is it says that in certain situations you will not have to require, you will not have to get health insurance.

If you have a financial hardship, for example, you won't have to get it. So let's say you're a couple and you're making less than about $19,000. According to the way this bill reads, you would not be required to get health care insurance. Now, the fine for not getting it is pretty steep. It can be thousands of dollars. So unless you fall into this financial hardship category, you're really going to be out some money if you choose not to get health care insurance.

PHILLIPS: All right. This one from another viewer via Twitter. "How will this health care reform impact the younger generation?"

COHEN: All right. The way it works now is that once you turn 21 in many states, you cannot stay on mom and dad's health insurance. Actually, various ages, but 21 is a relatively standard age.

PHILLIPS: Well, as a parent we want the kids out of the house working, getting their own coverage...

COHEN: Right.

PHILLIPS: ... at 21.

COHEN: But the problem is a lot of people in their early 20s who are working at jobs that don't have health care insurance. And so mom and dad would like to keep them on insurance if they could. So what this bill does is it says that a kid can - a dependent, I shouldn't say kid. A dependent can stay on mom or dad's health care insurance until the age of 26.

So that is a huge difference for people in their early 20s. I know, it seems like when you're 26 you should have your act together, right?

PHILLIPS: Exactly. We had to.

COHEN: Right. Exactly. But the problem is when you and I were 26 - not that it was so long ago, but when you and I were 26, more employers were offering insurance. These days, fewer and fewer offer it.

PHILLIPS: Wow. That's unfair as well. All right, this one coming from a viewer on our blog. "Will this bill allow people who are HIV-positive to get health insurance?"

COHEN: Right. One of the biggest things that this bill does is it says that private insurance companies cannot say no to you if you have a pre-existing condition. So right now, if you have HIV, no one's going to want to insure you. I mean, unless you work for an employer who insures you. If you go out there on your own, no one's going to give you insurance even if you got a bad back, there is a good chance that no one is going to give you insurance.

So this bill says that in about six months after it's passed, kids have to get insurance even if they have pre-existing conditions. Or to put it another way, a private insurance company cannot say no to a child because that child has pre-existing conditions. Now, for adults, that won't happen until around the year 2014. So Kyra, obviously, that's a long time between now and 2014. So in the meantime, they have set up these high risk pools that people with pre- existing conditions can try to join.

PHILLIPS: Wow. All right. Do you have time for one more?

COHEN: I certainly do.


Here we go, via Twitter. "What will happen when there are not enough doctors to oblige all the patients?'

COHEN: You know, that is a huge concern. We're hearing more and more about that. Now that you're letting in about 30 million more people into the regular health care system, how will the rest of us see doctors? Right? I mean, those 30 million people have to see doctors. And what if they are seeing my doctor and I have to wait longer?

In Massachusetts, when they reformed their health care system it did indeed, according to some analysts, make for a longer wait to go see your doctor. And so, some people say that could happen here. A little bit of a difference. In Massachusetts, they flipped a switch. In this new health care reform for the country it's being done in a graduated way over a series of years. So it is possible you could have a longer wait. But some analysts tell us that no, don't worry about it, it's being stretched out over such a long period of time and you won't really feel it. The only way to know is I'll get back to you in a couple years and tell you how it's going.

PHILLIPS: Yes, OK, same time, same day.

COHEN: Yes, exactly.

PHILLIPS: Two years from now.

COHEN: Sounds good.

PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks, Elizabeth.

COHEN: OK. Thanks.

PHILLIPS: We have much more coverage of the health care bill ahead this hour. Coming up, we are actually going to go to Capitol Hill and find out where we actually go from here. There are also tips for dealing with insurance companies and your premiums. Plus, we're taking a closer look at the dollars and seeing if it all makes sense.

President Obama failing the black community? We're going to talk live with the Reverend Al Sharpton and Chicago talk radio jock Matt McGill on the so-called black agenda, the White House and where the two should meet?

Plus Tiger Woods on the record, talking openly about his infidelities, and he gets ready to teeing up again.


ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hello, again. I'm Rob Marciano at the CNN severe weather center. A big storm yesterday bringing snow in north Texas and through Oklahoma city and now this is rolling off towards north and east, pilling up some warm air ahead but some chilly air behind it, some white getting into the mix here across parts of northern Alabama. Temperatures here in both Birmingham and Atlanta in the mid 30s. Some reports of some snow flurries across parts of Atlanta as well.

We don't expect any sort of accumulation, but it is the first full week of spring and getting snow in the deep south, well it's getting pretty old right now. Washington and New York, temperatures will be a little bit warmer here and the rains are going to begin to fill in today, tonight and tomorrow. There are flood watches out for parts of Jersey and eastern New England. And windy conditions are expected across parts of the northeast as well when the storm makes its way there tomorrow. That's a quick check on the weather.

The CNN NEWSROOM is coming right back.



REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: My colleagues shame us for scaring the American people about the contents of this bill. We know the consequences of this bill will be frightening and horrible. Freedom dies a little bit today. Unfortunately some are celebrating.

REP. JAMES MCGOVERN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I regret the fact that my Republican friends are not standing with us. I regret the fact that they deliberately tried to obstruct this process, but you know what, the Republicans opposed social security. They opposed Medicare. They were on the wrong side of history then and they are on wrong side of history today.


PHILLIPS: After a bruising 17 months fighting for health care reform, some are asking President Obama, what have you done for me lately? That question is pointedly coming from the African-American community.


TAVIS SMILEY, HOST, "THE TAVIS SMILEY SHOW": I'm not calling out President Obama, I'm calling out black leaders who have said recently that the president doesn't need to focus on the African-American agenda. When black leaders start saying that, then what role are they playing if they are not fighting for the best interests of black people no matter who the president is? So this is not about the president. It's about the presidency. How do you get the White House to take note of the suffering of your people and get them to address that?

CORNEL WEST, PRINCETON UNIV., PROFESSOR: It's not a question of the president, the color of the president, but it is true that President Obama has tended to tilt toward the investment bankers more than he's tilting toward Brother Jamal and Sister Laticia (ph) on the block. That concerns me.


PHILLIPS: Well, the black agenda, what is it? And should President Obama have one and if so, to what extent? Let's talk, listen and learn. First, to the Reverend Al Sharpton, live from our New York studios and live from Chicago, radio host, Matt McGill of WVON. Matt, let's start with you because the president is saying, "Oh, come on, this is the president of the United States of America, not the president of United States of black America."

MATT MCGILL, HOST, WVON RADIO: Yes, I agree with you. But I think black people want to hear the president address issues that are unique to the African-American community. High incarceration rate, unemployment. When you talk about housing, these are issues - the numbers are disproportionately high in the African-American community.

And I think the failure is not in President Obama responding but in communication. President Obama has done some things. He's funded programs that have helped in urban areas, but I don't think people in the community have heard about this. And as long as he gets the word out, then I think people would be happy that he is aware of some of these problems. These are problems unique to our community.

As Tavis Smiley said, "it's not about President Barack Obama, it's about the office of the presidency." And it is about leaders and the black agenda. And it should be about the agenda and not about the personalities.

PHILLIPS: Well, but let's cut to the chase here. Reverend Sharpton, I mean, a lot of people, a lot of leaders, and activists in the black community have said this is the first time we have had an African-American president. We should have somebody in there, especially at this position, doing something for a black agenda. But, I mean, one man, whether he's president of the United States or not, can't solve all the problems for black America.

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Well, I don't think anyone expects that. I agree with what Matt just said. I think that a lot has been done. A lot needs to be communicated. Well, I think that I have taken issue is that when you have black leadership, whether it's the Congressional Black Caucus, whether it's civil rights leaders, some of us that met with the president, the head of the nation, (INAUDIBLE) head of the Urban League, and myself, around black unemployment, then you can't turn around and say that there are black leaders telling him don't deal with black issues. That's what the meeting was about.

We would never have asked for a meeting if we were not concerned about the disproportionate amount of black unemployed. We would have not actually asked for a meeting if we were not concerned about where we fit in all of these agenda. I think that he is correct to say, let's get away from personalities. There are meetings about this and there are responses.

We just passed a historic health care bill last night. It is the job, I think, of the civil rights leaders, Latino leaders, women leaders and others, to make sure their constituencies are protected, particularly those of us in the black community that have a disproportionate amount of health concerns. If the president's approach is as president I must deal with the total and I will deal with constituency groups I think we must rise to that task.


SHARPTON: That's what we're saying. But to distort people saying they're not asking for a black agenda, we wouldn't have asked for a meeting if we weren't trying to address black issues.

PHILLIPS: OK. Well, and I guess, Matt, that's what I'm trying to tackle here within this discussion is should there even be something out there called "the black agenda"? I mean, other people have come forward saying, well, OK, if Hillary Clinton would have become the president of the United States should I, as a woman, and other women out there be saying, "where is my female agenda? I want the president, this female president doing something for me."

I mean, isn't it important to have a president that represents a race transcending position versus a black agenda or a Latino agenda or a female agenda? I mean why does it even have to be out there, give me a black agenda?

MCGILL: Well, because our issues are unique to our community. Look, the president is the president of the United States. We understand that. He presides over the entire country, all races, all groups. But we should have a black agenda because our problems occur in our community. We are part of the United States. We are part of that big group of people and the president needs to hear from us.

And this is not about President Obama. This is about President Clinton, President Bush, all the previous presidents and the presidents that are going to come after President Obama. It's not about a black president. It's about the office of the presidency and every president from President Obama on should address the black agenda.

People in this country vote for the president of the United States. People in the Latino community are going to deal with immigration. People in the Jewish community are going to have the president deal with Israel. The gay and lesbian community are going to have the president deal with their issues. The president has to deal with the issues of black America. And especially when you have a group of people that are in crisis like our people are.

And that is, to me, very, very important that that message and that word gets out to the office of the presidency and there is some response.

PHILLIPS: Reverend Sharpton, isn't it fair to say though that you could take female, Latino, Asian, black, I mean, we could go across the board - gay - and say there is a crisis in all those communities and it's unfair for the black community to come forward and say, hey, we're making extra demands on Obama because he's black and we're making demands that haven't put on other presidents.

SHARPTON: Well, I think that it is not unfair to make demands from all groups. And certainly with our problem of being what they are, we certainly have distinct reasons. I think what is unfair is if he therefore says, fine, let's sit down and deal with this and meets with the Congressional caucus and as Matt talks about related to the Hispanic caucus, meets with us on black unemployment.

I mean, the meeting was about that. And he didn't meet the residents at midnight. Nobody knew. He met in the Oval Office 12:00 noon and announced who he was meeting. I think that it's unfair to say he's not addressing it. He went and spoke at the NAACP Convention last year. He sent President Biden to the National Action Network's convention. He spoke himself at the Congressional Black Caucus.

So I think when he addresses it I think we need to say, fine, we want to fine tune this. This year, and next month, the National Action Network's convention, many of us are going to outline a timetable of what we want to see. Roland Martin will be helping to host that. So I think that a lot of it is communication, but I think a lot of it is that we must also represent our constituency and not ask the president to lead the fight to himself.

He should deal with the Hispanic caucus. He should deal with the black community. He should deal with us at the level of our crisis. We're in serious pain. But we should not expect him to be the advocate to himself. He should allow us to advocate and answer how his administration is going to respond to that. I think that's what many of us are trying to do as we did do with Bill Clinton and other presidents.

PHILLIPS: Reverend Al Sharpton, Matt McGill, WVON, great radio show. Appreciate you both. Thank you so much.

Preaching forgiveness and offering an apology, the Pope responds to reports of sexual abuse by Irish priests. We've got the letter.


PHILLIPS: A warning for you as ships off the coast of Yemen. Al Qaeda may be planning an attack. The U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence said it could be like the U.S.S. Cole incident. Small boats stuffed with explosives coming up to a military ship. You may remember that, there have been no specific threats as of this point.

And Pope Benedict says he's sorry. He has issued an 18-page letter apologizing for years of sex abuse by priests in the Irish Catholic church. Here's a little bit of what it says "You have suffered previously and I'm deeply sorry. I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time I ask you not to lose hope." The Irish organization, says "the apology doesn't go far enough."

A three-day strike by British Airways' cabin crew ends today. The union for those workers says the strike was unsuccessful. A lot of weekend flights were ghost flights with no passengers. But British Airways says that flights have been full. The union opposes plans for longer working hours and a cut in staffing.

Late night in the House, passing health care reform. So how are the markets reacting this morning? We're checking the stock exchange.


PHILLIPS: Increasing health care coverage was the major part of the massive health care reform bill, but for those of you who already have insurance, are you using it to the best of your ability? Or you're overlooking some of your benefits?



REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: There are those that have told us to start over. There are those that have told us to wait. They have told us to be patient. We cannot wait. We cannot be patient. The American people need healthcare and they need it now.



REP. JEB HENSARLING (R), TEXAS: In America, we must never confuse the social safety net with a slippery slope to socialism. When it comes to the health care of my family, when it comes to the health care of my country, I reject the hubris and arrogance of government social engineering, and I embrace the affordability and portability that comes by preserving the liberties of the American people.


PHILLIPS: Well, the health care bill is going to shake up the way that the entire industry does business. So, how is Wall Street taking it? Let's get straight to Alison Kosik to New York for the details. So, Alison, are investors liking the bill?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The bottom line here, it's tough to say whether they like it or not. Because here is no clear line of who the winners and losers are with the bill.

We were expecting a big sell-off today in health care stocks. They were down in the pre-market, but look at what we are seeing now on Wall Street. The Dow right now up 40. The NASDAQ higher by ten. We are seeing a recovery there. Health care stocks like Signa, Aetna and Humana are now mixed. We're not seeing any big moves happening in either direction.

But the jury is still out on this bill, and that's because it will take several years for all the components to be implemented and for investors to assess what the full effect is. But what we do know is that the crux of the bill will extend health insurance to an additional 30 million Americans.

So, for now, the extra boost in customers should help drug-makers like Pfizer and Merck, and for the same reasons, some analysts are also optimistic about insurers and HMO.

But even analysts are scratching their heads on this one Some of the forecasts are conflicting. Wall Street, of course, doesn't like uncertainty, but that's exactly what this bill is delivering for now.

We'll be right back in the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: The health care reform debate was, well, to say the least, passionate. Take a listen.


REP. DAVID SCOTT (D), GEORGIA: There are many people out here who have been warning and threatening us as to whether or not if we vote on this bill what will happen to us in the November elections.

Well, that's not the question. The question is not what will happen to us in November. The question is what will happen to the American people if we do not vote on this bill?


That is why we've got to step out on faith. We've got to step out on courage. The American people are expecting it.



REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: We are turning back the clock. For most of the 20th century, people fled the ghosts of communist dictators, and now you are bringing the ghosts back into this chamber. With passage of this bill they will haunt Americans for generations. Your multi trillion dollar health care bill continues the Soviets' failed Soviet -- socialist experiment.

It gives the federal government absolute control over health care in America. My friends, that is what this debate is really about.


PHILLIPS: All right. So what happens now?

Here to break it down for us, CNN congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar on Capitol Hill. So, Brianna, let's walk our viewers through this and talk about what happens next. It's definitely not over.

Oh, as I see, you were going through the entire stack of health care reform papers right now?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I am not. I am not. And I just actually carried this across the Capitol.

I think this really kind of shows you, Kyra, two bills passed the House last night. We'll explain how things move forward from here.

This is what we have been referring to as the Senate bill. It's now passed the House as well. This is what President Obama is going to sign tomorrow. This is an $875 billion bill.

And then this is the changes bill that's only passed the House, adds on $65 billion to the price tag. This covers 31 million more Americans for insurance. This adds another one million.

So, you can just kind of see, this is the big plan that has passed. The bulk of health care reform is passed, but this is still all important though this is just the changes bill. So, this what goes to the Senatenow . They need 51 votes. All Democrats expected to provide the votes to pass this so that President Obama can sign this part into law as well. What we don't know and sort of the uncertainty revolves around the smaller change bill because Republicans can, if they choose to, use delaying tactics in the Senate, try to add some things on. We're waiting to see how that plays out, but Democrats want it out by the end out of the Senate of the week, if they can.

PHILLIPS: OK. A lot of drama about getting through all the paperwork, but we can't dismiss the outburst from the floor, "baby killer," as Bart Stupak was up there giving his piece. Has anyone claimed responsibility?

KEILAR: No. We don't know who this was. We do know it was a Republican lawmaker because e were told by at least one Republican lawmaker that he knows who it is, but he's not telling us.

Let me set the scene for what happened yesterday. Congressman Bart Stupak is one of the anti-abortion Democrats who is the one who really struck a deal at the last moment with House Democratic leadership that brought the votes on board to cross the threshold of the all-important 216.

While he was talking in between these two votes of these bills I just showed you, Kyra, and a Republican lawmaker yelled out. It's not on camera where we can see their face, but they yelled out "baby killer." Bar Stupak is actually someone who is against abortion, but because he struck this deal with House leaders, obviously tensions are really running high, and someone did yell out. We're still trying to figure out who it is today.

PHILLIPS: Brianna Keilar on the Hill for us today. Brianna, thanks very much.

The bill will be signed tomorrow, but there are things you can do now to get the most out of your health insurance coverage. Things you might be overlooking, and CNN's Inez Ferre here with some tips for us. Where should we begin?

INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, well, let's begin here. First of all, when you get your insurance plan, right, you usually get a stack of papers about your plan's details.

But going online can actually help you find benefits you may not be aware of. For example, find out where to get free screenings, immunizations and many large insurance groups like Aetna or United Health Care, for example, they're starting up social networks, Kyra, so members can talk to one another and trade information about doctors and procedures. And also by setting up your profile online you can get information more easily than, for example, leafing through a booklet.

PHILLIPS: What about free medical advice? I know some insurance companies, there is a number you can call with some companies.

FERRE: Exactly. They set up hotlines, correct? And they have staff nurses that can answer your questions. If you don't want to check to the emergency room or if you have questions, for example, about an infection that seems to be getting worse or you want advice on treating a sore throat -- of course, for major emergencies head to the hospital -- but for minor injuries or advice, these can save you time and money and can also tell you about prescription drugs versus generic drugs and ways to save money.

PHILLIPS: What else do you think we overlook sometimes with benefits?

FERRE: Yes. Sometimes we overlook maybe even discounts. For example, some insurance carriers will give you discounts or incentives if you lose weight or if you stop smoking. So, if you join a gym, take part in a weight loss program, or start a program to quit smoking, let your insurance company know about it. You actually may be eligible for discounts on memberships.

And of course, Kyra, if anyone has questions, send them to

PHILLIPS: All right. Good stuff. Stop smoking, hit the gym, save a little money.

FERRE: Yes, all those good things.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: A message for the Israeli government. Sometimes the truth hurts. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talking to an American-Israeli organization about a diplomatic rift between the long-running allies.


PHILLIPS: Tough love diplomatically delivered. Last hour, U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton addressed the American-Israeli Public Affairs committee in Washington. This happens on the heels of the last few weeks that have seen strained relations between the U.S. and Israel over newly announced Jewish settlements in Palestinian- claimed East Jerusalem. Secretary Clinton hit the controversy head on.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: And, yes, I underscored the long-standing American policy that does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlements. As Israel's friend, it is our responsibility to give credit when it is due and to tell the truth when it is needed.


PHILLIPS: Something for the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to consider as he left Tel Aviv earlier today bound for Washington, D.C. Today. Mr. Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with the administration officials later today. CNN has confirmed that Netanyahu will meet with President Obama tomorrow. Amidst the hoopla over health care reform, there were demonstrations of another hot-button topic: immigration reform. Tens of thousands of people -- many holding U.S. flags and signs -- rallied on the National Mall. President Obama said he will do everything in his power to reach a bipartisan deal this year.

All the work filling sandbags in Fargo, North Dakota -- well, it paid off. The Red River hit the crest and the dikes hold, but dangers remains.


PHILLIPS: Now listen closely, and you can almost hear the sigh of relief coming from the Red River Valley. The river crested at 19 feet above flood level. Thousands of sandbags in Fargo yesterday morning. Thousands of sandbags in Fargo, North Dakota and across the river in Moorhead, Minnesota have held. But officials say the river will recede slowly. The makeshift dikes will be watched closely.

Rain, snow, high winds and water -- hey, it's March. The month for all four seasons, right, Rob Marciano?


PHILLIPS: Got it. Thanks, Rob.

Paying for health care reform is a big check to write. But whose pen are we really using?


PHILLIPS: He's getting ready to step back on the golf course and into the sports spotlight, but first, he's answering questions about his troubles off the course. Tiger Woods talks.


PHILLIPS: As you know, the health care reform affects you, all of us, so debate isn't just within the marbled walls of the Capitol. Here's what you're saying.


TODD CLARY, REFORM SUPPORTER: Is it exactly what we wanted? No. But it's your foot in the door, and we need something for people who work who can't get health care, mainly the children. One bill from a hospital could sink you financially for the rest of your life or your children's life.

MIKE COLINS, REFORM OPPOSER: I think it takes away our basic freedoms and liberties. It will destroy -- undermine health care, it will undermine medical research and investment, and basically force citizens who have done nothing illegal to be in violation of the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIPS: $940 billion is how much the Congressional Budget Office says the House health care bill will cost over ten years. So, who's paying?'s Poppy Harlow is in New York. Try to break it down for us. Hey, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Hey, Kyra. Yes, very complex. A huge amount of money and simply put, we're paying for it. Your taxes, for a lot of folks, will go up.

And the thing that will raise the most revenue to pay for health care is a higher Medicare tax on high-income people, people that make more than $200,000 a year or couples that make $250,000 or more a year. Under the bill, those are the folks that pay either more Medicare taxes on wages -- you see it there -- or they're going to pay a Medicare tax on their investments, the income like dividends or interest, whichever is less. That's what's going to apply to you.

I want to break down an example here. Let's pull it up on the monitor and make it very clear for you. Let's say that you all in are making about $250,000 a year as an individual. Currently, you pay just over $3,600 in Medicare taxes every single year. Under this bill, that would increase 450 bucks. You would pay over $4,000.

But I should also note, Kyra, that the majority of people in the country are not these high earners. Their Medicare taxes aren't going to change at all, Kyra. Some will be paying more.

PHILLIPS: All right. What about the tax we heard so much about, the so-called Cadillac health care plans?

HARLOW: Right, those expensive plans. That is in the bill that was passed in the House late last night. It's watered down significantly from the Senate bill, but this is going to bring in about $32 billion over ten years.

We should note though, Kyra, this tax doesn't kick in until 2018. So, here's who it applies to -- people who have plans -- individuals -- that are $10,200 a year or more and families that have plans that are $27,500 or more.

This is not a tax on you. This is a tax on insurance companies that offer high-end plans, and the goal here is to push those insurance companies to offer cheaper plans. The thinking behind this, Kyra, you don't need all the coverage you sometimes buy. They want insurance companies to offer cheaper plans.

And one more thing I should note here. Starting in five years, 2015, people who do not get health care coverage will be fined at least $325 a year. Bottom line, we're paying for it, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: We're always paying for it, Poppy. That won't change. Appreciate the "Breakdown."

HARLOW: You got it.

PHILLIPS: Tiger Woods is taking questions. No, he's not answering all of them, but he's getting grilled for the first time since he jumped from the sports page to the tabloids.


PHILLIPS: So, do you know how the far-reaching health care reform legislation affects your health insurance? Stick around. CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen details the bill's impact on insurance payments. That's coming up in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Tiger Woods is answering questions for the first time. It's sort of a warm-up before he gets back on the course for the Masters in just about two weeks. He's talking about his screw-ups, his kids and how he got off track. He spoke with the Golf Channel's Kelly Tillman.


KELLY TILLMAN, GOLF CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Tiger, you have been a master of control your entire life. How did things get so out of control?

TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: Going against your core values, losing sight of them. I quit meditating. I quit being a Buddhist. And my life -- changed upside down. I felt I was entitled, which I never had felt before. Consequently, I hurt so many people by my own reckless attitude and behavior.

TILLMAN: Were there moments you thought you should stop but didn't?

WOODS: Yes. I tried to stop and I couldn't stop. And it was just horrific.

TILLMAN: For a man who's so disciplined, physically and psychologically, why couldn't you say no?

WOODS: I don't know. Now I know, but at the time -- that's part of what I learned in treatment. Being there for 45 days, you learn a lot. You strip away the denial, the rationalization, and you come to the truth. The truth is very painful at times. To stare at yourself and look at the person you have become, you become disgusted.

TILLMAN: America was concerned when the world's greatest golfer was lying on the ground with no shoes at 2:30 in the morning bleeding. What happened that night?

WOODS: Well, it's all in the police report. You know, they investigated, and they have it as public record. There was a lot of stuff between Elin and I will that remain private. That's about it.

TILLMAN: How did you crash the car?

WOODS: I wasn't going very fast, but unfortunately I -- you know, I hit a few things. TILLMAN: And how will you explain this to your children one day when they are old enough to understand?

WOODS: We'll sit down and talk. It won't be just one time. I know that. It will be numerous times. I take full ownership of that.

I did it. No one else did. It was just me. And that's a responsibility that I will have. I will talk to my kids for however long they want to talk about it. That is the conversation that will need to be had.


PHILLIPS: The Golf Channel will have extensive coverage of the Masters. After the Masters, it's unknown if we'll see Tiger on the course again. Woods says he has more therapy and treatment to go through. He hasn't set a schedule for more tournaments.

Well, Tony, you and I both -- we're both golfers and we know --

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: You're better than I am.

PHILLIPS: Oh, that's not true.

HARRIS: Please.

PHILLIPS: -- the mental aspect of the game. It's going to be interesting to see how he plays. I'm curious to see how he's going to play after all this and how the fans treat him.

HARRIS: Well, the fans are going to be tough on him at various times. He probably couldn't have picked a better venue to come back than Augusta National. He'll be taken care of there.

In terms of the golf game, he's the best we have ever seen.


HARRIS: And, you know, I don't know if he's got -- if he's ready to win the Masters, but he knows that course so very well, I wouldn't be surprised. He just has another gear, a gear that we haven't seen. And, you know, golf is back. I mean, that's the reality of it.

And people will make their own decisions, and they already have, on his life and the mistakes he's made and admitted to. But there is no doubt about his unbelievable ability on the golf course. It's just the truth.

PHILLIPS: Well, we've talked about how mentally strong he is on the course.


PHILLIPS: This is going to be the test of that for sure.

HARRIS: But you know, as well as I do, he has a lot of work to do in his personal of life.

PHILLIPS: Oh yes. More than a lot.

HARRIS: A lot. All right.

Kyra, have a great day.

PHILLIPS: See you tomorrow.

HARRIS: Good talking to you.