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CNN AMERICAN MORNING Transcript

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Copyright 2004 Cable News Network
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CNN

SHOW: AMERICAN MORNING 07:00

HEADLINE: Man Believed to Have Brought Terror to Columbus, Ohio Captured; Four American Missionaries Killed in Iraq

GUESTS: Steve Hardy, Larry Cox

BYLINE: Bill Hemmer, Soledad O'Brien, Jack Cafferty, Sean Callebs, Barbara Starr, Joe Johns, Jeffrey Toobin

HIGHLIGHT:
Callebs reports on the arrest of the suspect in the Ohio highway shootings. Starr explains the latest developments in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Hardy and Cox discuss the attack on Baptist missionaries in Iraq. Johns reports on the investigation into why the costs of the Bush administration's Medicare program were reported incorrectly before a congressional vote. Toobin discusses the latest developments in the cases of Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant. Cafferty reads viewer e-mail about whether the war on terror has permanently damaged American relations with its allies.

BODY:
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning. The man believed to have brought terror to Columbus, Ohio is captured 2,000 miles away in Las Vegas, Nevada.

-BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT-

HEMMER: We want to go to Capitol Hill now and Joe Johns, looking into this for us this morning-Joe, good morning there.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.

It's an investigation into whether a leading expert at Medicare was pressured into withholding certain information from Congress. The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services is looking into what has become an election year controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): The announcement of an investigation by HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson comes amid concerns of some conservative Republicans that the administration withheld cost estimates from Congress on the prescription drug plan for Medicare.

REP. JACK KINGSTON ®, GEORGIA: I think there is an annoyance factor here.

JOHNS: Annoyance because fiscal conservatives were reluctant to support the bill in the first place. The Congressional Budget Office said the plan would cost $395 billion over 10 years. But after the bill was signed by the president late last year, the administration said the cost was more like $534 billion. Documents now suggest the administration had vastly higher cost estimates as early as June.

KINGSTON: Doggone it, if there was a difference in numbers and we knew about it up front, we should have had the opportunity to explore what that difference was.

JOHNS: The central question is what the administration knew and when. Medicare's chief actuary, Rick Foster, tells CNN as far back as June he was ordered by the head of Medicare at the time, Tom Scully, not to give Congress projections of higher costs. Foster says he felt his job was threatened. Scully denies it.

THOMAS SCULLY, FORMER MEDICARE OFFICIAL: No one ever threatened to fire him.

JOHNS: But both men say Congress never specifically asked Medicare to issue a so-called score or estimate of the entire bill.

SCULLY: I never once had somebody ask me, anybody, in either party on the Hill, say could you please give us a comprehensive score of the entire bill?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Now, Democrats disagree. They say they did ask for this information in the form of e-mails. Experts say, frankly, there is simply no way to tell which estimate is correct-Bill.

HEMMER: Joe, thanks for that update.

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