(CNN Student News) -- August 19, 2009
Health Care Debate - Help students visualize some complex issues surrounding health insurance.
Pre-election Violence - Learn about security concerns tied into Afghanistan's presidential election.
Tale of the Heads - Celebrate the centennial birthday of Abraham Lincoln's monetary debut.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Penny for your thoughts, or thoughts on the penny? We've got one of those in today's CNN Student News. From the CNN Center, I'm Carl Azuz.
AZUZ: First up, recess! That's what Congress is in right now. It's not in session, but that doesn't mean the lawmakers are on vacation. Many of them are holding town hall meetings in their home districts, where voters are encouraged to raise questions or concerns about what's going on in Washington. Now recently, these town halls have been dominated by health care.
As we've talked about this week, one of the biggest issues in the debate is the so-called public option: a government-run health insurance program. President Obama supports it; some lawmakers strongly oppose it. Earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the public option is "not the essential element of health care reform." Some people took that as a sign that the president might be giving up on the idea. Yesterday, Secretary Sebelius said that's not the case.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: Absolutely nothing has changed. We continue to support the public option that will help lower costs, give American consumers more choice and keep private insurers honest. If people have other ideas about how to accomplish these goals, we will look at those too. But the public option is a very good way to do this.
AZUZ: Some senators are proposing another idea: health care cooperatives, or co-ops. Just like the public option, these are plans that some people are for, and you guessed it, others are strongly against. If all this talk about health care reform has you a little confused, don't worry about it. You are not alone. This iss an incredibly complex issue, one that Tom Foreman helps us visualize right now.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you want to understand what's really happening with this whole health reform debate, think of the insurance business as a big shopping mall where there are a bunch of private stores that sell insurance. The supporters of the 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 are 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's not what's going to happen. They say that instead of having a sale, what you're actually going to have is people that are driven out of business. There will simply be not enough business once all these people start being more 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 for? Well, another option is an insurance cooperative system. What is that? Well, an insurance cooperative basically will take people from across the country who can't afford insurance, no matter where they are, and it will connect all these people to each other. By connecting them, it will make it possible for these people to share the cost 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 non-profit, 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 as to exactly how it would work, who would be involved and what it would really cost and what the benefits might or might not be.
AZUZ: Textbooks, pencils, hand sanitizer? It might be a common sight in the classroom this year, as schools prepare to fight the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu. The federal government is getting ready too, stocking up on doses of an H1N1 vaccine. Officials say 45 million doses will be ready in October. That's a lot less than anticipated, but they're going to add 20 million more doses each week. Health experts say there are some simple steps you can take to help prevent the spread of the virus yourself, like washing your hands and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for some Fast Facts! Afghanistan is scheduled to hold a presidential election this Thursday. It'll be just the second one since its former Taliban rulers were thrown out of power in 2001. According to the Afghan constitution, candidates must be Muslim, must be Afghan citizens with Afghan parents, and must not have been convicted of any crimes. More than 30 men and women are running for the office, but the leading candidates are current President Hamid Karzai, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. In order to win, a candidate has to get more than 50 percent of the vote; otherwise, a run-off election will be held.
AZUZ: Officials are deploying about 300,000 troops to give security for Afghan voters tomorrow. The Taliban have said it plans to disrupt the election, and they've threatened to kill Afghans who show up at the polls. The country has been struck by a wave of violence leading up to this week's presidential election, including two attacks yesterday in the capital city of Kabul. Seven people were killed and more than 50 others injured in a suicide bombing aimed at a military convoy. And earlier, two rockets were fired at the presidential palace.
AZUZ: Alright. We love to hear your voices in our show too, and one way we do that is through our blog at CNNStudentNews.com. We asked you recently about NFL Quarterback Michael Vick: Will you be cheering, booing or just not caring when he takes the field for the Philadelphia Eagles? Kerri wrote, "I think it's really cruel that Vick did the whole dogfighting thing, so he doesn't really get my respect." But Eric says, "Vick was a top-notch quarterback. Since he'll be an impact player on his team, I think that fans would support him since fans want to be entertained." Tarence notes, "Vick served his time in prison, so I think people should give him another chance." But Elijah says, "Vick couldn't act appropriate for a man of his wealth and fame and should not get another chance." And Toray writes, "People focus too much on the extra drama instead of enjoying the game. Sure I'd watch him play. It's not about what mistakes he made; it's about how good of a football player he is." Great stuff! We love your comments! Please remember, first names only. We can only use your first names. And please be sure to stay on the subject of the blog you're talking about.
Is this Legit?
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? The American penny has always featured the face of Abraham Lincoln. Not legit! So when did the former president's face first show up on the coin? You're about to find out.
AZUZ: This is a tale of heads: Abraham Lincoln's, to be specific. For in the year of his 200th birthday, there's something else to celebrate about the popular president: his bronzed bust! You've got it in your pocket. Lincoln has headed up the penny for 100 years, to the month. Never one to be a conformist, number 16 does something no other president does on a U.S. coin: face right. Don't give a cent for any conspiracy theories though; it's only because Lincoln happened to be facing that direction in the image the designer picked. And if you've happened to pick up a 1909 Lincoln head penny, it could be worth a lot more than your thoughts. An eBay search revealed that some of these vintage coins command more than $1,000 each. Now that's change we can believe in! And it certainly goes further than a modern penny. In 2006, it actually started costing more to make a penny than the coin was worth. That was because the price of the metals used was on the rise. But that didn't stop the U.S. mint from minting a tribute to Lincoln five score after he got set on a cent. The "obverse" of the penny -- in other words, heads -- will look the same. But the "reverse," tails, will tell four different tales, with four new designs showing scenes from Lincoln's life.
AZUZ: So while the value of the penny might have changed over the past century, you could see why the design still makes sense.
AZUZ: Okay, of you're curious about what's coming up tomorrow on CNN Student News, then you want to sign up for our daily e-mail! This free newsletter gives you a sneak preview of some of the stories we're covering on the show, and it includes links to our blog and downloadable maps. Head to CNNStudentNews.com and sign up today!
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, we've got a couple tickets to the gun show! Shirley Coen may not look like a typical weight lifter, but don't underestimate this 85-year-old powerhouse. She just set a bench press world record! 55 pounds, the first woman ever in her age group to pump that much iron. She's only been lifting for two months, and Coen's already boasting that she plans to break the record she just set.
AZUZ: She did it once, so I guess the weight's already off her shoulders. We won't press our luck with any more puns, even though you said you wanted then. Have a great day. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.