Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 17, 2009 1:30am-2:00am EDT

1:30 am
if confirmedly also continue to advocate for reform of f.c.c. processes to make the commission more open, transparent and user friendly. for instance, it will be helpful if notices of proposed rule-making actually contained proposed rules. we could also serve the public interest by filing congress' mandate to get to work aadjudicating the backlog of 1.2 million tin decency complaints some of which are older than my children. also if confirmed i will work to reform the compensation regimes to contain skyrocketing cost while ensuring that all americans have access to affordability quality services. finally if confirmed i will continue to work to clear away unnecessary regulatory underbrush and barriers to
1:31 am
entry that inhibit the entry of a dynamic and free communications markets place. these are just a few ideas. we have much, much more to do. ideas we have much, much more to do. in conclusion, i have cherished every day i have served as a commissioner. i have been honored to work with not only some of the finest people ever to serve on the commission but the hundreds of talented career professionals who work at the fcc as well. and if confirmed, i would be humble to serve with them again. senator pryor and senator hutchison and other members of the committee, thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today. this concludes my statement, and i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you, commissioner mcdowell. what i'll do now is turn it over to senator hutchison who has an appointment she needs to get to. senator hutchison. >> yes, and i want to especially say good luck to griffin. i am very impressed, and i am
1:32 am
going to make this statement publicly. tonight, i am going to be watching the university of texas longhorns in the college world series. and i am asking you right now to consider going to the university of texas and playing baseball because i know you have a future. so consider it a recruitment. good luck tonight. mr. mcdowell, i want to ask you a couple of the questions. first o all, on the fairness doctrine, that is something that is very important to many people. and reinstating it is something that everyone i know thinks would be a bad idea. and i wanted to ask you if you see any signs of commission -- the commission moving in that direction through the localism
1:33 am
effort and what is your view about what is going on? >> first of all, senator, i have spoken out for quite awhile about my concerns about any reimposition of the doctrine. some call it the censorship doctrine, others the speech doctrine. i call it the doctrine in order to be fair. but i believe it probably is unconstitutional. i don't have any concerns at the moment that the commission will pursue it. i take mr. genachowski at his word. but there are some other concerns i have regarding heaping more obligation on broadcasters, especially at this time. but throughout as well. the broadcast industry is really taking it on the chin right now due in part certainly to the recession. about one-third of their advertising revenue comes from car dealerships alone.
1:34 am
and, of course, we all know the fate of car dealerships. there are more and more stations, broadcast stations in distress these days. and then there's the whole aspect of all the new media competition i sort of outlined in my opening statement. the eyeballs and ears and ad dollars are going to new media. i think we need to be mindful of that before we impose any new regulations. >> thank you. i'd like to ask you the same question that i also posed to mr. genachowski regarding the media ownership rule. the newspaper, broadcast, television station, fcc parameters and ask if you think that it is time to look at those restrictions in a new light. i said earlier that i have never
1:35 am
liked having too much ownership in too few media outlets. i don't think it's healthy. but so much has changed in the last five years, as you stated in your opening statement. and i think perhaps now with newspapers in such dire straits that lifting some of those restrictions and letting broadcast and newspaper owners have the capability to bring their revenue up so that they can both stay in business. and i'd like to know how you feel about that. >> thank you senator. >> in december 2007, i voted for relaxation of the newspaper broadcast cross ownership ban. especially looking at the top 20 markets but also the below 20 markets. markets 21 and below with different standards. both standards would help preserve the diversity of voices. and i think that's really what our rules are all about. to make sure there's competition of voices and interdiversity of voices so no one company or
1:36 am
small group of companies can dominate the news or information or entertainment in a particular market. but i think our communications marketplace is awash with a plethora of choices for consumers. in fact, we are awash in so much information the texting acronym is tmi or too much information sometimes. so i think we need to take that into account. of course, that order we voted out in december of '07 is being litigated at the third circuit right now. looks as though that court will sort of freeze review of that until a new fcc is constituted and that we move on with our review which is scheduled to commence next year. so pragmatically speaking, i'm not sure if anything will be done before the next review. but, of course, the chairman controls the agenda at the fcc. that would be his prerogative to schedule that or not. >> last question would be the net neutrality. how are you going to approach
1:37 am
net neutrality? >> i think it's a healthee very healthy to have this debate, first of all. the concern is that there's primarily been a duopoly in the last file for years in broadband. cable company versus the telephone company. and the fear there has been maybe one of those companies could somehow control or both of them could control the content that flows over the pipes as we call them in the vernacular. i think the best way to resolve that is to ensure there's more competition in the last mile. and since i've been at the fcc, i've worked to do just that. to help create opportunities for the construction of new delivery platforms. be that through our video franchising in order december of 2006 to make it easier for new entrants to get local franchising authority and lay new fiber and create new last mile facilities that way. and that's not just incumbent phone companies but also new builders and entrepreneurs as well. or well weather it's through our 700 megahertz order where
1:38 am
hopefully we'll have six new entrants per farket or six new players per market to mix things up. then top that off with what we did to open up the television white spaces to unlicensed use and the further work ahead of us there. that really helps provide competitive safeguards. coming over the horizon or the aw-s1 auction. coming over the horizon, we have a multitude of opportunities for competition in the last mile, and i think that will help be a check and balance against anti-comb petitive conduct. i hope we can change the dialogue from merely discrimination, the word discrimination certainly has many negative contexts or meanings, but talk about anti-competitive conduct as well. and the intent there. so as we go forward, i look forward to working with this committee and my fellow commissioners on that issue. but i think what's best for consumers is competition. >> thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman, for
1:39 am
your deference. i appreciate it. >> senator thune. >> thank you mr. chairman. i wish i could have been here for mr. genachowski. we had an armed services subcommittee hearing of which i am a ranking member. but i'm glad to be able to welcome and congratulation mr. mcdowell and -- on your reappointment. i look forward to continuing to work with you upon your confirmation on a lot of issues, obviously, that many of which have been touched on. national broadband policy, applying indecency regulations, net neutrality has been mentioned, spectrum allocation are some of the issues that confront the commission today. and i think that the range of issues that you deal with, the importance of those issues can't be overstated. it's a very important position and i hope that we continue to make progress on some of these things. and i would say i understand you've already had a lot of --
1:40 am
i'm sure a lively discussion about the fairness doctrine. i hope the commission can put a stake through the heart of that once and for all. it will certainly reduce the number of amendments we consider up here if we don't have to deal with fairness doctrine amendments on appropriation bills. but i do want to ask you about the -- some of the national broadband policies becse as you know, the fcc is required by the stimulus bill to develop a national broadband plan. and i know that there are grants and loan guarantees in the stimulus bill. but i'm just curious what your thoughts are about deploying broadband to rural areas of the country. >> well, i would hope the focus would be on unserved areas. certainly first. now the fcc has an informal advisory role with the department of commerce and the department of agriculture who actually have sortev the spending authority for the $7 billion. and it's not a written role. it's very imformal. the chairman and the career
1:41 am
staff of the fcc working with agriculture and commerce on that. i would hope our focus would first be on unserved america. i know in south dakota there are a lot of areas still unserved. we also have what will be now nearly an $8 billion universal service fund at the fcc. and that fund is growing despite a cap we voted last year on the competitive eligible telecommunication carrier portion of that fund. that's a mouthful. cetc portion. the contribution factor or the sort of tax sorts is -- has grown to an all-time high of almost 13%. so that is something we administer and i think we need a full audit of that fund and how it's used, as well as all fcc operations, by the way. but that would be part and parsele to any part of any broadband reform. >> well, and i know that
1:42 am
universal service fund generates a lot of controversy. the only thing i guess i would ask of you as you take these issues on that you take into consideration the impact on rural areas and making sure that rural areas in the frontier, so to speak, isn't left behind. i think there are just some wonderful applications of technology that are leading to incredible increases in productivity and job creation and everything else in our economy. but it's obviously going to be very important, in my view, as we move forward, that we do it in a way that takes into consideration some of the unique and particular needs that rural areas of the country have as well. so i don't have any questions beyond that, mr. chairman. i want to congratulate you, mr. mcdowell. i look forward to working with you. as you know, i will be focusing in on some of those rural issues. so thank you and good luck. >> thank you, senator thune. >> thank you, senator thune. >> let me dive in, if i may,
1:43 am
with just a few brief questions. first about erate. this is a provision in the '96 act that senator rockefeller and senator snowe worked on. just one of the things the chairman is very proud of because of the effectiveness in closing the digital divide. when the telecom act of '96 was passed, only 14% of the classrooms in the country and 5% of classrooms in low income communities had access to the internet. thanks to the e-rate program, today more than 90% of all classrooms have access to the internet. the question would be do you support the e-rate program as it's currently laid out in the statute? >> yes, sir. >> and do you think there should be any modifications, either changes or enhancements to it or do you think it ought to just
1:44 am
stay as is? >> well, i've called for early this year complete audit, like i said before, of all fcc operations, financial operational, everything. and that would include e-rate and the whole use of funds. not for any particular reason, but i think it should be done periodically. and the private sector, when you have a merger or acquisition of a company, there's a due diligent. obviously, now, we have a new party in charge of washington. i think there should be due >> speaking of acquisitions, i know that that's once of the things that the f.c.c. does that's very important. and you know, when you look at a emergencier or acquisition in a given industry, there could literally be billions of dollars at stake and there's a lot of capital investment. and you need to consider that aspect of it. you also obviously, need to look at the consumer and whether the consumer will benefit. but you also, i think at least, should look at the economic
1:45 am
impact it will have on given communities because oftentimes when there is a merger acquisition, one could be introduced as a big loser in that prospect. so my question is just a general question and that is, how do you balance all of those interests when you are looking at a emergencier acquisition? >> >> we look at the public interest standard. and that's our only hook. and that's a emergencier of there's a transfer of license. so we have a different standard from say the department of justice or the federal commission might. so the public interest standard is broad but it's our core mission that congress set up in 1934. so going forward, i would like to look at emergenciers and any conditions that are placed on them whether or not those emergenciers are specific.
1:46 am
we place conditions on that that are narrowly tailored to those interested. sometimes the majority of the commission might see it is in a different way. so they work out a deal with the merging entities and the merging partys will come to me and say, please just vote for this as is. so that's something to take into consideration as well. hing to take into consideration as well. >> let me ask a practical scheduling question. if you can't answer that, it's okay. here you have in all likelihood a new commissioner coming in a new chairman coming in. at some point soon, i don't know exactly when, that nomination will come through the senate. but, you know, it's our hope that we would move your nomination and his fairly quickly. but in the meantime, you do have some mergers pending with the
1:47 am
commission. i don't know what all they are, but i know that some of these entities would like to have some finality before the end of the business quarter. are you all going to try to wait until a new person comes on board or are you going to try to clear the decks now so the new person doesn't have to deal with that or have you all made a decision on that? >> i don't know the answer to the question. that is the determination of the acting chairman at this point. there's one particular merger. i don't want to comment on the specifics of any mergers before us. one specific merger slightly past its 180-day deadline, and i've been a long proponent of shot clocks and would hope we could sick to our six-month shot clock going forward on all mergers. but the sooner the better would be my preference. >> you know, with that, i really don't have any other questions. and i understand you have a baseball game you have to go to, so -- >> i'll stay as long as i need
1:48 am
to. >> senator warner wanted to be here but because of the -- some schedule changes today in the senate, he couldn't. but senator warner is a big proponent of yours. a big supporter of yours. he wanted to be here to introduce you. let me just remind all senators and staff that we are going to try to have all questions -- written questions, follow-up questions end today by 6:00. we'd love for you to try to turn those around. as i understand it, between the two leaders on the senate floor, there is no agreement yet on your nomination. and the other fcc nomination. but i'm sure that chairman rockefeller and others, senator hutchison and others will try to get these packaged up and moved through as quickly as possible. let's see. i think that is it. is there anything else we need? with that, i just want to thank you for your service on the commission so far and what
1:49 am
you've added to the commission, to the process. and if you get any questions, we'd appreciate a rapid turnaround and good luck on the game tonight. >> coming up on c-span, a house committee hears from people who have had their health coverage canceled by their insurance companies. then secretary of state clinton presents the state department's annual report on human trafficking. later charlie pay trick leahy discusses the sonia society toe major supreme court nomination. -- sotomayor supreme court nomination. >> tomorrow rahm emanuel speaks at a meeting of the democratic
1:50 am
council. we'll have live coverage beginning at 9:00 a.m. southeastern time. >> how is c-span funded? >> i have no clue. >> maybe some government grants. >> maybe donations. >> advertising for products >> public money, i'm sure. >> my taxes. >> how is c-span funded? 30 years ook ago, america's cable companies created c-span as the bubblick service. no government -- as a public service. no government money. >> witnesses include health insurance executives and people who's policies were canceled while they were being treated for serious medical conditions. this is a little more than three hours. >> hearing will come to order.
1:51 am
today we have a hearing entitled "terminations of individual health spolsis by insurance companies." >> the chairman the ranking member will have five minute first opening statement. other members of the subcommittee will be recognized for three minutes. now before we begin, i'm going to ask unanimous consent that the contents be entered into the record, provided that the committee staff may redact any information that is business proprietary, relates to privacy concerns. the documents will be entered into the record and be ask that a copy will be in the front table incase witnesses wish to refer to it. i'm going to begin opening statement. i'll start with my opening statement for five minutes.
1:52 am
every night americans go asleep without health insurance. it is this experience that has caused many hard-working americans to purchase individual health insurance policies. of those americans fortunate to purchase health care coverage are not immune from this scenario. that is because of a practice of rescission. auto was diagnosed with non hobkins lymphoma. he was told that he had to have a stem cell transplant in order survive. he was scheduled to have procedure performed but then his insurance company said it
1:53 am
was going to cancel his insurance coverage. auto could not pay without health insurance. a stem cell surgery was cancelled. the insurance company told him that he had found -- that he had not told the company about a test that he might have gal stones or aneurysm or weakness of the blood vessel wall. he didn't have any symptoms. and these conditions did not have anything to do with his cancer. but the insurance company is going to rescind his policy. it would not pay for a stem cell transplant. auto seeked help to get his insurance company to reverse this decision. he told them "i was diagnosed with nonhobkins lymphoma.
1:54 am
this is aner gent matter. please help me. any delay could threatened my life." they confirmed that auto's doctor never told him about the results. the company relented and auto received his stem cell transplant. he was able toly three more years before passing away earlier this year. auto was one of the lucky ones. this committee has concluded an investigation of the practice of health insurance riss -- risssidvism. ashurent, united health group and well point, the committee has identified a variety of abuses from insurance companies. including conducting an investigation in ever case in
1:55 am
which a policy holder has leukemia or any of a list of 1,400 serious or costly medical conditions. rescission is entirely unrelated to the policy holders unrelated problem. conditions that their doctors never told them about. rescinding coverage for all families -- excuse me, rescinding for all members of the fallly based on not disclosing one medical condition of a family. well point evaluated family performance base on the amount of money the employees saved the company on retroactive decisions. according to documents, one well point official was
1:56 am
afforded a perfect score of five for exceptional performance, based on having saved the company $10 million through rescissions. these practices reveal that when an insurance company received an expensive treatment, some of them will look for a way, any way to avoid having to pay for it. this is very eerily similar to what we found last year where unscrupulous sales people would sell policies to seniors and would revoke the policy once it was blocked in making payments. the companies argue that they are entirely legal and to an extent they are. but that goes against the whole point of insurance. when times are good, the insurance companies is happy to sign you up and take your money. but when times are bad and you're inflected with cancer or some other life-threatening disease it is supposed to honor
1:57 am
and stand with you in your time of need. instead some of these companies use a technicality to break its promise at a time when patients are too weak to fight back. i would like to mention and compliment the staff on their supplemental information regarding the market. it is attached of my opening statement and will be part of the record. today we will hear from victims of this practice of rescission as well as three of the leading companies that engage in it. we hope to learn more about this problem so that we in congress perhaps through a national comprehensive reform bill can put an end to this unconscienable practice once and for all. i would like to yes fer to the chairman for an opening statement. >> you indicated that you do plan to put this supplemental information in the record?
1:58 am
>> yes, sir. this is the supplemental information regarding this individual health insurance market dated june 16. i realize a lot of members haven't had time to look at it. they were putting it together last night. i went through 50,000 pages. i wanted to put it in there because it is supplemental and members can use it in questioning witnesses. >> ok. i misunderstood what you were saying. i thought you told me you weren't going to put it in because the minority didn't see it. >> right i wasn't going do put it as a document binder. but i'll put it in the opening statement. as you had indicated it is on the committee stationary. i did not want to say that mr. barton approved it. so i'll make it part of my opening statement. >> i i appreciate that.
1:59 am
hope that we can work that out in the future. prksly 16 million americans have individual health insurance policies. once people apply and are issued their insurance cards they breathe a sigh of relief and think they are coveraged. if the friday before the monday a patient is to under go a double ma sect mi she receive as call from her insurance company saying her insurance has been canceled and will no longer pay. this is what happened to a constituent. we will hear from mrs. barton where the threat caused pain, frustration and great expense. we may be here to discuss valid viewpoints of rescission and other corporate


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on