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September 12, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert

  |   Video
  • Dr. Edgardo Rivera, the Medical Director of Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, talks about the economic and community benefits of the new facility that’s opening in Gilbert on September 26th.
  • Dr. Edgardo Rivera - Medical Director of Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: Banner, hospital, new facility,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The new Banner M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is scheduled to open September 26th in Gilbert. Here to tell us more about this new specialty cancer facility is the center's medical director, Dr. Edgardo Rivera. Good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

Dr. Edgardo Rivera: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: Talk about the importance of this cancer center to Arizona.

Dr. Edgardo Rivera: Definitely. The Cancer Center definitely is going to be very important, not only to Phoenix, but to the Phoenix Metro area. Simply because the oncology care in this area for many years has been really fragmented. There are a lot of smaller practices, there's never been really a truly stand-alone cancer center. So bringing Banner and M.D. Anderson together really brings an expertise that was never here before.

Ted Simons: Is it unusual for experts in one particular field of care to merge to have a partnership, a deal, if you will, with a more broader care service? Is this kind of marriage unusual?

Dr. Edgardo Rivera: This has happened before. I think this is the first time it's happening here; you're bringing Banner Health, which is a major giant in this area when it comes to health care, bringing in -- M.D. Anderson in Houston has been ranked the No. 1 Cancer Center by U.S. News and World Report for many, many years, to bring them together toward oncology care in Phoenix.

Ted Simons: Sounds like it's also the kind of marriage, if you will, that would catch the attention of the industry. They will watch and see how things go.

Dr. Edgardo Rivera: That's correct. When it comes to their vision, their excellence of care from both institutions, it really was the marriage that was made in Heaven, if you want to put it that way. It's something that's going to be watched very carefully because we're sort of a unique situation. This is the first time M.D. Anderson Houston is offering a full-service cancer center outside Houston. So we're not a satellite clinic, we're a full-service cancer center. We will provide exactly the same services provided at M.D. Anderson Houston. It'll be disease specific.

Ted Simons: I would imagine that means certain cancers will be targeted?

Dr. Edgardo Rivera: That's correct. In this area it's very important. We have high incidence of breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate, and high incidence of ovarian, cervical. So we will have experts that are going to be focusing on those specific diseases. Sort of the same model that we have at M.D. Anderson Houston. To give an example, I actually worked at M.D. Anderson in Houston for 12 years. I’m a breast oncologist. I've also been doing breast cancer for more than 15 years now. We will have experts in a specific disease.

Ted Simons: Why wouldn't M.D. Anderson just open a facility in Arizona? Again, back to the partnership, back to the marriage. Why is that so important? Why did M.D. Anderson go that route?

Dr. Edgardo Rivera: Well, you know, M.D. Anderson needed the right partner, Banner needed the right partner, as well. Banner Health brings the business expertise. M.D. Anderson brings the clinical expertise and experience in oncology care. Banner has never had a stand-alone outpatient cancer facility. It really made sense to partner with in this case the right partner. We looked around for some time. We felt that M.D. Anderson was actually the right partner simply because of prestige and the reputation that they have had.

Ted Simons: Impact on health care costs, impact on health care reform, these kinds of things what does a partnership like this hold for the future?

Dr. Edgardo Rivera: Oh, it's really, I think we will probably see more of this type of partnerships in the future. Not necessarily with M.D. Anderson, not necessarily with Banner. But other institutions, simply because we have in this case -- you have Banner, bringing the business side. As you know there's been quite a lot of changes in health care and there are going to be more changes. You have M.D. Anderson that is known for their clinical expertise. It really makes sense to have both, to really have both sides in order to be able to manage and deal with some of the changes that are happening in health care.

Ted Simons: How many patients do you see, a general figure? What are you looking at out there, expecting to see?

Dr. Edgardo Rivera: We're actually expecting -- the projections will tell us that really we're going to see approximately 25% of all oncology care in this area.

Ted Simons: Does that suggest expansion plans then?

Dr. Edgardo Rivera: Yes, right now we're opening phase 1, an outpatient facility that is about 133,000 square feet. We have room to expand up to approximately 450,000 square feet. We’re on the Banner-Gateway Campus so there's quite a lot of room to grow.

Ted Simons: It looks like a very modern looking facility; obviously, in terms of the economy, someone's going to have to build that. You've got some jobs there, and once built you would have development, commercial, retail, hotels, the whole nine yards.

Dr. Edgardo Rivera: That's correct, it's a major economic impact specifically in the East Valley. We will have 250 employees we have already hired, approximately 50 physicians. It'll be a major impact in that area simply because of the type of job and professionals that we're bringing. But also it's a domino effect. As we grow we will see probably growth in terms of retail, the hotel industry, et cetera.

Ted Simons: All right. Very good. Sounds like quite the project, sounds like you're ready to hit the ground running. Good to have you here.

Dr. Edgardo Rivera: Thank you so much.

Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us.

Dr. Edgardo Rivera: Thank you.

People v. The State of Illusion

  |   Video
  • Writer and producer Austin Vickers discusses his feature length documentary/drama that explores the science and power of perception and imagination and attempts to answer the question, “can people really change?”
  • Austin Vickers - Writer and producer
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: change, illusion, perception, documentary,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: An Arizona screenwriter has produced a documentary about perception and reality, and our ability to change how the world affects us. "People Versus the State of Illusion" is now showing at Harkins Camelview Theater in Scottsdale.

Trailer: Traffic jams, internet connections, second mortgages, single parenting. In all of those reactions to the environment produce the same physiological response. People are so focused on the content of their perceptions that they are unaware of how those perceptions are formed, and how those patterns are actually helping to create the problems in life that appear to be happening to them. At a subtle level, one of the things I think most creates these prison walls is what you might call our deepest habits of thought. I think this film is important because it brings to light the reality of our illusions. This film is important if you want to experience more love, more freedom, reconnect with who you were meant to be in this lifetime. It is often said that people are afraid of dying. I think they are more afraid of living. Once people realize that the prison walls are imaginary, that they’re a figment of their own mind, then the escape is easy.

Ted Simons: Joining me now to talk about the film is Austin Vickers, the writer and producer of "People Versus the State of Illusion." Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Austin Vickers: Thank you for having me here.

Ted Simons: Why did you make this film?

Austin Vickers: Probably, you know, to really deal with a lot of the subject matters that I've studied for the last 20 years. I'm a big student of psychology and neuroscience and quantum physics and philosophies. There's a lot happening in those arenas these days, a lot of new research coming down. I wanted to communicate some of the advances in that science to people in a way that would be compelling and thought-provoking. So, that was the reason for the movie.

Ted Simons: Sounds like one of the main messages here is you're in control of your own reality. What does that mean?

Austin Vickers: One of the pieces of science in the film that we talk about, if you look, for example, at the amount of information we take in through the senses, scientists estimate for example we receive on average four billion bits of information or more in the course of any given day. What rises to the level of your awareness are approximately 2,000 thoughts. When you compare that to the amount of information you're receiving, your view of reality is less than 1/1000 of one percent of the total information that is coming to you. We can't possibly have really an objective view of reality. What we are experiencing is typically more indicative who we are, as opposed to what it is we're observing.

Ted Simons: Yet if you go too far the other direction, can you start tiptoeing towards solipsism? Everything is what you see and how you perceive it?

Austin Vickers: Well certainly there is an objective reality, obviously, that we respond to. I think one of the points we are trying to communicate to people is we don't have control over things that necessarily happen to us, but we certainly have control over the way we view those things, the way we respond to those things. It's really -- the film is about really prompting people to become aware of that response, because the way we respond in life of course can create limitations.

Ted Simons: Obviously you wrote the film, the screenplay for the film.

Austin Vickers: Yeah.

Ted Simons: How did you work out a way to get that message across, but try to do it in an entertaining and keep the fanny in the seat kind of message?

Austin Vickers: Well the first year when I was making the film we went out and filmed interviews with some of the top researchers and scientists in the field. Then having been a professional speaker for the last 10 years and doing a lot of training, people learn better by having an emotional experience. So I wrote a script for the film to really match the science that we knew we would be portraying in the documentary side of the film. I think we came up with a pretty good emotionally compelling story.

Ted Simons: You talk about perception as reality and these sorts of ideas. I know when we have artists, writers, screenwriters on, and I'm always fascinated, especially with playwrights and screenwriters when you are writing you are seeing something- that’s your perception. What was it like when you saw your perception all of a sudden in the hands of other people and faces and voices and there it is on the screen?

Austin Vickers: It was an amazing experience. When you're -- a lot of the film was written sitting in a Starbucks, and you're imagining these conversations between characters and dialogues. Then you go through the process of auditioning actors and finding people that look like the characters you have in your mind. Ultimately to see them acted out on film, really gratifying.

Ted Simons: Gratifying but a little odd perhaps, a little off-putting in some respects, take you back a bit?

Austin Vickers: Not at all. It was one of the most fun projects I've done in my entire life.

Ted Simons: Let’s talk about your entire life- you've had quite a life and it doesn't always necessarily deal with films and screenwriting. You were a corporate attorney?

Austin Vickers: I started as a trial lawyer, practiced trail law in Southern California for a number of years. I went in-house with a Fortune 500 company, and served as general counsel in a division in Europe before I got into this line of work.

Ted Simons: So how did you get into this line of work?

Austin Vickers: I went through a recovery process after overcoming the attorney part of things. I've just always been a student. I read a lot, I inquire a lot. The process of being a trial attorney is really obviously asking a lot of questions, things that I love to do. I started writing, I wrote a book about it. For the last decade I've been teaching corporations about self-awareness and emotional intelligence. So the film was just a really nice way to package a lot of the learning and a lot of the research I've been exposed to, in a way that is I think is compelling for people.

Ted Simons: I asked about how you went from A to B because change is something that I know you deal in, you talk about a lot. I want to focus on this. So apply the perception to reality, these sorts of things we've talked about with folks who want to change, what they are doing, who they are.

Austin Vickers: It's important, I think one of the distinctions I wanted to make in this film, there have been other films out there and there have been other suggestions that we can change simply by positive thinking. I think that's actually a little destructive because sometimes, if people think it's that easy to change, then -- and they don't actually change by their positive thinking, they get frustrated and give up hope. We really wanted to instill a lot of hope in people, that change is possible, by showing them exactly what is the process for change, how does it occur. What's going on inside of the brain when somebody is embarking on the attempt to change their life. And then really show them in fact that you can. That's what we try to portray in the film.

Ted Simons: So what is the process for change and what is going on in the brain?

Austin Vickers: Well, do you have 86 minutes?

Ted Simons: No, we don't, that's our reality.

Austin Vickers: Well you know, it's really about mastery, about understanding for example what it is that we master. One of the metaphors we use in the film is mastering a golf swing. We know from hearing about the life of Tiger Woods, for example, his father used to try to yell at him and throw things at him to distract him when he was practicing his golf swing, so he would become a master of the golf swing without regard to what was happening in his environment. The same is true with how people are in their habits of emotional behaviors. Some people are so excellent at mastering suffering or negative activity or judgment about others that it doesn't matter what's happening in their environment, it's almost like that environment will have no influence. So we have to learn to become masters of a habit of thinking that is constructive and that is imaginative and creative, if we ultimately want to change. That's what we really talked about in the film.

Ted Simons: I've seen reviews for the film, some of them pretty good, some not so good. How do you handle the not-so-good ones?

Austin Vickers: I think it's great. Sometimes films are meant to kind of distract us. This film is actually not made to distract us. It's made to examine the way we look at life. I read actually two reviews from two gentlemen from the same magazine, in fact; one completely hammered the movie, the other one loved the movie and thought it was emotionally compelling. And it was like any experience. That's one of the points of the movie. Again, what we're experiencing is more indicative of who we are. So I think it's interesting for people to go to the movie, see the kind of experience they have. One of the questions they should certainly ask themselves is, you know, “Is my view of this film indicative of the way that I see life?” If it is, maybe question that.

Ted Simons: And if you see it again a few years from now, maybe you'll see it in a whole different way.

Austin Vickers: Absolutely, and for sure that happens. We know with people over time, we can go through the same kind of an experience or read a book again or see a movie in a whole new way. That's how we know we're actually contributing to the experience that we ever have in any situation.

Ted Simons: Well, good luck with the film. It's good to have you here, and thanks so much for joining us.

Austin Vickers: Thank you, it's a pleasure to be here. I hope people come out this Saturday I’m going to be doing a Q&A actually after the 7 p.m. showing at Harkins.

Ted Simons: At Camelview?

Austin Vickers: Right. I hope people come out.

Ted Simons: Alright, very good.

Same Sex Health Benefits for State Employees

  |   Video
  • State Representative John Kavanagh shares his views on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that agrees with a lower court decision to block an Arizona law from taking effect that would have eliminated same sex health care benefits for domestic partners of state government employees.
  • John Kavanagh - State Representative
Category: Law   |   Keywords: health benefits, same sex partners, state employees,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Arizona's 2012 presidential primary is set for February 28th. Governor Brewer had considered moving the primary to late January, but instead settled for the February date, along with a tentative agreement for Arizona to host a Republican presidential debate in December. Last week a panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a lower court's decision to block an Arizona law that denies health benefits to same-sex partners of state employees. On the day of the decision we heard from an attorney representing plaintiffs in the case. Tonight we hear from State Representative John Kavanagh, a Republican from Fountain Hills who chairs the House Appropriations Committee. Good to see you again. The 9th Circuit upholds this injunction, were you surprised?

John Kavanagh: No, it's the 9th Circuit. I mean they are probably one of the most liberal circuits in the country and they’re the most overturned circuit.

Ted Simons: District Court Judge says no rational basis, 9th Circuit says no rational basis; that's kind of like the starting point, isn't it? What's going on here?

John Kavanagh: The 9th Circuit it was a three-judge panel and they didn't look at all the facts, they were ruling on the preliminary injunction. There wasn't really a thorough vetting there. We're confident we're going to win because the level of examination is supposed to be rational basis. They use this new morphed thing called heightened rational basis and it just doesn't apply. What we have to establish is that there is a reasonable purpose for us doing what we did. And we have many reasonable purposes.

Ted Simons: How do you get past the fact that the court -- now four judges here with the three-panel and the district court judge—four judges have looked at this and said what you’re doing is discrimination and if you don't offer the benefits for everyone, no problem, but you can't offer it to some and not to others.

John Kavanagh: First of all, it's not discrimination. We didn’t discriminate against anybody. We simply reinstated the historic policy in Arizona that we give domestic partner benefits only to married couples and their children. It was Governor Napolitano who illegally, by administrative order, circumvented the legislature. But beyond that, we didn't say, “Hey, we don't want to cover gays, let's remove them.” We didn't. We believe that out of respect for the voters who passed a protect marriage amendment, which says marriage is only between a man and a woman; to protect the process which says the legislature are the ones who make these decisions; and most importantly, to say – to protect marriage that it was necessary to restrict these benefits to just the traditional married couples.

Ted Simons: So the straight married worker gets a certain bunch of benefits here. The gay and lesbian worker doing the exact same job, not allowed to get the same sort of benefits here? That's equal? That's fair? That's constitutional?

John Kavanagh: What we’re saying -- it is constitutional. Most states have it that way, the federal government has it that way. What we're saying is we're only going to provide benefits to, other than the employee, if it is a man and a woman marriage. We are not going to give benefits to unmarried people regardless of whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, because it's poor public policy.

Ted Simons: But the unmarried people, if it's an opposite sex couple, they can do something about it they can say, “Alright let’s go ahead and get married and get it over with.” The state and lawmakers and legislature, leading the way here with voters, decided we're not going do that for gays and lesbians. Again, that doesn't sound equal, according to the courts.

John Kavanagh: Let me respond in two ways. First, that's a ridiculous argument. Most people are not going to run out and get married and have all of the complications and responsibilities just to get insurance coverage.

Ted Simons: But the Court says the option is at least there--

John Kavanagh: But that's irrelevant. If you go through the history, the Supreme Court decisions, the rational basis argument simply says, “Did the legislature do something for a reasonable purpose?” And we did. We are attempting to -- besides saving money, we're attempting to support marriage because we believe that the traditional definition of marriage is the best for society and, most importantly, the best for children.

Ted Simons: But if there is no -- according to the courts now -- if there is no equal protection in what you do, the courts are going to say no to this.

John Kavanagh: That's not correct. First of all, the 9th Circuit itself in one of its decisions, High Tech Gays v. Defense Industrial Security, said that homosexuals as a group do not have protection against discrimination, that they are not a group that requires a higher level of scrutiny than rational basis. The U.S. Supreme Court also said that under rational basis that courts don't have a license to "judge the wisdom, fairness or logic of legislative choices." This is a legislative issue. If people think they want to extend the coverage to straight and gay unmarried people, then let them do what everybody else does- put it on the ballot or have a bill introduced and argued in a legislative committee.

Ted Simons: Basically what you’re saying and I’m going back to the two workers, the one that's straight and the one that's gay, and the one that's straight has the option of getting married if they wanted to pursue that and get those benefits for their partner, but there is no -- it's an absolutely dead end for the gay and lesbian worker. Again, the courts are saying that is not equal protection.

John Kavanagh: We're saying to the courts that we're not going to give either of those groups benefits if they are not married. This is an issue of married versus unmarried.

Ted Simons: I don't want to go too far. I just want to reiterate this: The court was very clear. They are saying, “Yes, that's fine, then don't give benefits to anyone.”

John Kavanagh: But the court was very clear, but very wrong. We’re talking about one judge flew in from Alaska to look at this decision. Then we have a three-judge panel, who didn’t look at the whole case, who were all Democrat appointees. I think there may be some politics involved or at least different judicial philosophies than you might get from the full 9th Circuit Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ted Simons: Should the state go to the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, or go ahead and bypass the Supreme Court?

John Kavanagh: That's a decision I will leave to the lawyers, whatever they think is tactically best for us we should do. If we don't prevail before this three-judge panel, I want to appeal it until we have exhausted all appeals. We have an extremely strong case. This judge is trampling all over numerous Supreme Court and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals precedents and all over the legislative branch. This is not the way the Constitution is set up.

Ted Simons: They were saying because you can't get past the rational basis aspect, it's a particularly not strong case.

John Kavanagh: That's not true. If you look at the rational basis, the only requirement for rational basis is that we prove we have one reasonable reason. It doesn't even have to be one that was articulated at the time of the passage. We have five good reasons, the biggest being we want to support marriage as an institution. Once we established that that was our purpose and it's reasonable, we've won the rational basis argument.

Ted Simons: Last question- if four judges don't think you have won that rational basis criteria, the Governor's office is suggesting this, that all this is one big ploy to legalize gay marriage. Is that what you're seeing out of all of this?

John Kavanagh: I cannot look into the motives of people, and I don't like to do that because then you judge people. It's kind of like name-calling. All I know is this: I've looked at the briefs, our briefs, briefs from groups that support us. They cite a litany of Supreme Court and 9th Circuit precedents that say that this judge is totally off the mark in what he said, and that the three-circuit panel is also wrong. I'm not going to be critical of them at this stage because they only gave it a cursory review, in terms of the injunction.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here.

John Kavanagh: Always a pleasure.