Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 15, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Crystal Darkness

  |   Video
  • Television stations across the state will participate in the simultaneous airing of the documentary Crystal Darkness. The film reveals the far-reaching problem of methamphetamine addiction. Sergeant Joel Tranter with the Phoenix Police Department joins us to talk about the documentary, the effects of meth use as well as the drug's relation to crime, and child abuse in Arizona.
Guests:
  • Kirk Adams - State Representative
  • Steve Farley - State Representative
Category: Medical/Health

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," funding for a state-run health care plan for small businesses is at the center of debate. Plus, we'll hear from a woman who escaped from a polygamist compound. She will talk about polygamist crime in Arizona. Also tonight, the impact of crystal meth addiction on crime and child abuse in our state. Those stories next, here on "horizon".

Ted Simons:
Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. We're on an hour early so we can bring you the documentary "crystal darkness" about methamphetamine addiction at 6:30. The "Newshour" with Jim Lehrer will be on at 7:00 p.m. nearly 23,000 are enrolled in a medical plan with healthcare group. The healthcare operated by the Arizona cost containment group. It's for small businesses, state employees, or those who are self-employed. Here with two differing views about healthcare group of Arizona, now representative Kirk Adams and Representative Steve Farley. Thank you both for joining us.

Steve Farley:
Thank you for having us.

Kirk Adams:
Health care of Arizona is a program that was established in the mid 1980s, designed to promote health care coverage to small businesses who otherwise would not be able to purchase that coverage in the marketplace.

Ted Simons:
What is wrong with healthcare group?

Kirk Adams:
For several years the group has been losing a lot of money. It has not produced rates or programs that are financially sound. Up until the year 2006, it was losing about $16 million a year. In 2007, one year, it lost $20 million. So the effort of this bill is to ensure that healthcare group has sound financial management, and that it can continue to serve the population it serves into the future.

Ted Simons:
That sounds reasonable for a program that sounds important.

Steve Farley:
It's a very important program, because it's very hard for any small business, particularly sole proprietors, to gain health insurance in this state. You can't find any insurance that'll cover preexisting conditions. Healthcare group has stepped into the breach to help all these groups to cover their insurance. They have had problems in the last couple of years predominantly because the legislature put obstacles in their way when in 2005 they said, go out and market yourself. They made it much harder for them to be self-sustaining at the same time. Now that they have their house in order and they are doing much better financially, their deficits are much less and they're heading towards a positive cash flow and surplus for fiscal year 2008, we need to get the obstacles out of their way and allow them to grow and become a very strong entity in the future for the sake of our small businesses.

Ted Simons:
Freezing enrollment for three years, something you would like to see. How does the program grow and become self-sufficient with the enrollment frozen?

Kirk Adams:
First you have to do no more harm. We have a freeze placed on the program last year and an agreement with the legislature and the executive branch. We would extend the enrollment freeze, let the dust settle, figure out the financial mess we're in, and then figure out how we can address this population going into the future.

Ted Simons:
Should there not be more regulation, oversight, whatever, just more attention to a program that right now is supposed to be self-sufficient and is not?

Kirk Adams:
There already that is oversight. And the healthcare group administration has done a tremendous job in the past year getting their house in order. They've been doing administrative cost savings, they've been increasing premiums and reducing some benefits, which has been painful but which has increased their financial liability. They are currently losing about 600 members a month because of the premium increases. Many of these people are going on to Access, the state-run Medicaid program. Now we're subsidizing the entire rate instead of premiums placed on health care. We need to take off the enrollment cap so that more businesses can get online. There are currently over a thousand businesses on the waiting list waiting for the enrollment cap to come off, which it will in June of this year if we don't extend the enrollment cap through this bill.

Ted Simons:
Premium increases, enrollment cap. If you can, both?

Kirk Adams:
Absolutely, for the short-term. We have a program here that is bleeding money financially. It lost $20 million in one year. That is a significant loss and puts every single one of those insured's at risk. It's very appropriate to do that. I would point out that to the extent healthcare group is having a better year this year, it's only after we capped enrollment last year and they increased rates.

Ted Simons:
Is there still a situation where you have to be uninsured for six months before you can get into this program?

Kirk Adams:
Yes. Incurred under the program, the period has been in place since 2005. What's interesting about the go bear period, before it was instituted in 2005, under an agreement with the legislature and the executive branch in 2005, healthcare group was still losing an average of $6 million. It lost $51 million when there was no bear period at all.

Ted Simons:
does this period make sense to you?

Steve Farley:
I think not, unless you're a big health insurance company and you're afraid of competition. It means that you have to go without health insurance for six months. Your life may be ruined. You need to get rid of that bear period so we can have other people joining this plan, particularly healthier people who may have an option, joining the plan, to be able to pay in more premiums than they will get back in claims.

Kirk Adams:
Scapegoat aside, it's also important to understand that in 2007, health care group had a 37\% enrollment with the bear period. Any private sector business would be very pleased to have 35\% growth. I would dispute the notion that somehow this period is preventing the program from growing. The most important part about this bill is that it requires the same sort of actuarial soundness that we require in the Medicare system. The program has to be sound. As a state, we're not providing that same quality control for a program that we run. I think we have to do it.

Ted Simons:
We need to stop it right there. Gentleman, thank you so much. Good conversation.

Kirk Adams:
Thank you.

Steve Farley:
Thank you.

Escape author

  |   Video
  • At age 18, Carolyn Jessop was the fourth wife of a man more than three times her age and had eight children in 12 years. After 17 years in the abusive, bigamist marriage, she fled Colorado City with her children, ages two to 15. Jessop talks with Merry Lucero about her flight from the fundamentalist Mormon community and her book, "Escape". Plus we talk with state representative David Lujan about what can be done about bigamist communities here in Arizona.
Guests:
  • Carolyn Jessop - "Escape" author and former FLDS member


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
At age 18, Carolyn Jessop was forced into an arranged polygamist FLDS marriage to a man four times her age. She was his fourth wife and had eight children in 12 years. After 17 years in the abusive plural marriage,She fled Colorado city in the middle of the night with her children, ages 2 to 16. Merry Lucero spoke with her about her escape, the book she authored about her ordeal, and the women and children who still need help in the fundamental communities.

Merry Lucero:
Carolyn Jessop, thank you for joining me here on "horizon". Going back to your beginnings, you were born into a polygamous FLDS family. What were you taught as a little girl about polygamy and the polygamous lifestyle?

Carolyn Jessop:
I was told that we were a special group of people on the earth, the only one that god was even working with. It was quite an elitist religion.

Merry Lucero:
when you turned 18, what were you thinking when you were told at 18 you were going to be married off to a man who was 50 years old, and you were going to be his third wife? Were you shocked and horrified over what was going to happen to your life?

Carolyn Jessop:
I was shocked and horrified, but polygamy seemed normal. Everybody I knew lived it, and it was supposed to be the better way to live. And occasionally an older man would get a younger wife like this, but it didn't happen very often. When it happened to me, I was kind of in a state of horror. Even though I'd seen it happen before, you think it just happens to somebody else. So it was terrifying, really. And the night my father told me I was going to Mary Merrill Jessop, I felt like every good thing in my life ended that night and there was no way to stop it.

Merry Lucero:
You were living in such a violent and abusive stressful family and home life. What would you say was the key to your survival through all of that?

Carolyn Jessop:
I think part of that was resilience, not just allowing circumstances to take me down and feel defeated. I kept thinking I could rise above it and find a better way. When I finally realized I couldn't, I started looking at my daughters, and I realized I did not want them to live the kind of life I had lived. That was a significant turning point when I started questioning the way I had been raised and my belief system, and how could something that was of god be so ugly and so abusive.

Merry Lucero:
The level of abuse that goes on towards the children in the community, was that something that was just a continually building kind of norm in that community?

Carolyn Jessop:
It's a norm within the society. It's a highly controlled, highly secretive society. And when you have to have that kind of dominant control over your children and family, you resort to a lot of extreme measures to have that kind of control, and that usually involved violence. Within the society, what aggravates this problem or makes it worse is that there are no limits. There's no point where you've gone too far, because a man has the right to receive divine revelation from god. If god has revealed to him to discipline a child or a wife in this way, who's to question him?

Merry Lucero:
Starting your book with the story of your escape really showed your desperation level at that time. Was there the same desperation level in the community? Had it elevated at that point because of the Jeffs family coming into power and the leadership of Warren Jeffs?

Carolyn Jessop:
Things changed when his father took over and it progressively spiraled from there. They got really goofy and bizarre when he took over. He always had this insane side to him. It got so bad I would get up in the morning and I didn't know what freedom we would lose that day. He would mandate that nobody could wear red and every red thing had to be destroyed and we had to get rid of it immediately. One day he decided all the dogs in the community had to be destroyed. We had to take them to the pound. He sent men to round up the dogs and they took them out and shot them. It was just bizarre things out of the blue, nowhere, no explanation for why. You cannot question. And the society was spiraling into a direction that felt very dangerous to me. And that's why the book starts at that level of intensity, is that I felt like I wasn't safe any longer in this community, and I didn't believe my children were, either.

Merry Lucero:
What are your thoughts of trial and conviction of warren Jeffs on the child rape and his sentence?

Carolyn Jessop:
There's been such an improvement in the community just since he's been behind bars. Two years ago I went through the community, and you didn't see anybody walking on the streets, nobody was growing gardens, everybody was just locked in their homes. It was like driving through a ghost town. Just a few months ago when I went down and drove through the community, the people are growing gardens, cleaning their yards, there were children playing out in the yard, kids riding bikes. It's like the community's coming back to life and you can feel that the oppression is lifting and that there's just a little bit of norm and security and comfort coming back to daily life there. However, there are still underage marriages occurring, and there's still a lot of crime occurring. Warren is part of the problem. The reality is that this society created warren. And they've created a lot of men like him that are also dangerous. And it's just a matter of time until somebody else steps in and takes over and takes the society in another bizarre direction. Putting him behind bars was a very necessary move, but more needs to be done. Right now the children are not in school. Warren took the kids out of school when he went into prison. He pulled them all out of public schools and put them in a private religious school where they were basically just being brainwashed, that's been going on since the year 2000. When he went to prison he told everybody to close down all the private schools. So now we're going into two years of the children in this community having no education whatsoever. And so there's some issues like that that are like emergency issues that need to be addressed right now. Society can't continue to ignore this; we're going to have a whole generation in this community that will be functionally illiterate. We've got huge problems on the horizon unless this is dealt with.

Merry Lucero:
Who can deal with it? Who can come forward and say these children have to go to school?

Carolyn Jessop:
They're going to have to make laws. They need laws in the state of Utah and Arizona that will address the specific problem going on in this community, and require the parents to put their kids into a school.

Merry Lucero:
What are your thoughts on warren Jeffs' men breakdown while he's in prison, and him saying that he's not the prophet and becoming suicidal?

Carolyn Jessop:
I wasn't at all surprised to see that reaction because he has limited coping skills with reality. But as far as the community goes, it's not making that much of an impact, if any, because people are being isolated away from that confession. And then they're also being told that there's elements that have occurred that are a test to see if the people will turn against their one true prophet of god. He's taken the community to a level of tyranny where something has to give.

Merry Lucero:
Carolyn, why did you write this book? What do you ultimately want people to take away after reading it?

Carolyn Jessop:
I started doing public speeches after I'd been out for a little over a year to try to educate the public of what was going on and how serious the problems were and that there's more help needed for a woman like myself that wants to leave the society with a large family. It's one thing for me to just stabilize and take my family and go live a lovely little life, but there's too many people being hurt and victimized. I want to be a voice for that, and I want people to know that it's not okay and something needs to be done. The problem's been ignored far too long. My life would have never happened if this problem wouldn't have been ignored. I have enough faith in the American public that if they really knew what was occurring they would do something about it. That's my hope and why I wrote the book, to make a difference.

Merry Lucero:
Carolyn Jessop, thanks so much for joining me.

Carolyn Jessop:
Thank you.

Healthcare Group

  |   Video
  • Funding for a �Healthcare Group of Arizona," a state-run health insurance plan for small businesses, is at the center of a debate at the state legislature. State representatives Kirk Adams and Steve Farley discuss the pros and cons of freezing enrollment in the program.
Guests:
  • David Lujan - State Representative
Category: Medical/Health

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
A bill working through the state legislature would bar the superior court from granting child custody or unsupervised parental visitation to parents who participate in child bigamy. Here now is a sponsor of that bill, David Lujan. Why is your bill necessary?

David Lujan:
The bill would put a presumption in state law. Other job, I'm part of a group called defenders of children. As you heard in the previous interview, it is incredibly difficult for the women and children to get the confidence to leave these communities. They need all of the tools in their favor in order to be able to leave. I worked on a handful of cases where women have left polygamous communities and filed for custody in courts, only to see the courts turn around and give custody to the polygamous fathers.

Ted Simons:
How often does this happen? It seems to me that a court would have to go pretty far to say the child is in better hands with a child bigamist?

David Lujan:
Unfortunately, it's happened and it's happening still. I've got one case where the woman has spent over $40,000 in legal fees trying to keep custody of her kids. The father is engaged in the practice of child bigamy.

Ted Simons:
I know you have an exception in the bill, as well, no significant risk to the child. Why is that included?

David Lujan:
For those rare circumstances, I don't even know what they would be, where that would be necessary. But to allow some judicial discretion in place that, if the judge finds that there's circumstances that you should award custody to the parent that's engaged in child bigamy, you can do that.

Ted Simons:
It would seem to me if the woman should not have custody and the other option is a child bigamist, seemed like CPS is around the corner somewhere.

David Lujan:
I would think you're looking at foster care in those situations. The whole purpose of this is to give the women and children who are seeking to leave extra assurance in state law that the courts are going to back them up when they finally get the courage to leaves these polygamist communities.

Ted Simons:
I know you referred to this earlier but I want to ask again, why you, why this issue?

David Lujan:
I never thought when I got elected to the legislature that I would be working on a bigamy law. I saw the need for this law because, as I said, we've been working on cases where women finally get the courage to leave these polygamist communities, only to have the courts give custody to the fathers.

Ted Simons:
It's what's happening in El Dorado, Texas, surprising to you at all?

David Lujan:
It doesn't surprise me. The women and children in that compound came from Arizona, and so unfortunately it's gotten to this point.

Ted Simons:
Is there much opposition to your bill right now?

David Lujan:
The bill has received bipartisan unanimous support in two committees, it's passed out of two committees. Unfortunately, it's been held in one committee where the chairman I guess disagrees with the concept of the bill.

Ted Simons:
That's basically it. If the chairman doesn't like it, it just sits there, and everyone else seems to be happy with it.

David Lujan:
Yes, I've had a number of republicans that have helped me to get the bill moved forward. For whatever reason, the chair doesn't want to move it forward.

Ted Simons:
Is that gong to change any time soon?

David Lujan:
If I don't get it this session, I'll be back next session until we get it accounted into law.

Ted Simons:
David, thank you so much for joining us on "horizon."

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