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June 20, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Coyotes Update

  |   Video
  • The Glendale City Council got a look Tuesday at a plan Tuesday to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in the city and hire an arena manager. Arizona Republic Reporter Paul Giblin will give us an update.
  • Paul Giblin - Arizona Republic, Reporter
Category: Sports   |   Keywords: coyotes, phoenix, glendale, sports, update,

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Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I’m Ted Simons. The city of Glendale is considering what could be the final offer to keep the Phoenix Coyotes playing hockey games at Arena. Here with an update is "Arizona Republic Reporter" Paul Giblin. He's been on this story. It feels like we've been on this story forever, Paul, but it does feel like something's about to happen here. Give us an update.

Paul Giblin: I think you're right. I think this week will be the week when we know whether the Coyotes will stay or go. I think it’s going to break one way or the other. There's some important negotiations going on between the group that wants to buy the Coyotes, that's a group called Renaissance Sports and Entertainment and the city. The crux of the deal here is that Renaissance wants to manage Arena where the Coyotes play. The city wants someone else to manage the arena for them and so the rub is how much will the city pay renaissance to do that.

Ted Simons: Managing that arena has always been kind of the sticking point of previous negotiations. It sounds like the city has budgeted about $6 million for that?

Paul Giblin: About $6 million a year, correct.

Ted Simons: So Renaissance comes in and do we know what they're asking to manage the arena?

Paul Giblin: They're asking about $ million. So that's obviously a gap between the $15 million. And so Renaissance has come up with the idea that they're going to slide a bunch of money back to the city that would equal that gap. So they would do things like ticket surcharges, parking fees, even naming rights from the arena. Theoretically they'll resell the name, it won't be Arena anymore, it will be named something else, the city will get a piece of that, plus the standard lease.

Ted Simons: Now from what I understand, that would bridge that particular gap so you've got revenue sharing. But is that money guaranteed do renaissance?

Paul Giblin: Good question. Let's ask another question. Why would Renaissance be interested in giving all this money to the city? Why wouldn't they just keep the $6 million management fee and keep all those revenues for themselves? That would be much smoother, it would be much easier. So here's one possible answer to that. Let's suppose that Renaissance is going to borrow $85 million as part of their purchase price to buy the team from the NHL. And let's suppose that their lenders aren't very satisfied with all those speculative sources of money, the parking, the ticket surcharges, depending on people actually filling up the arena. So let's suppose that the lenders want guaranteed money like $15 million from the city of guaranteed money. That makes the lenders feel much better but the city doesn't want to pay $15 million. So now, Renaissance proposes giving all those resources to the city.

Ted Simons: And the city says I would imagine the city would be a little hesitant to guarantee that money because, all of a sudden, the team stinks, something happens or whatever and that money isn't coming in.

Paul Giblin: It begs the question if these smart money lenders don't want to lend that money based on this speculative income, why should the city do it? What guarantees do the city get that these money lenders wouldn't get, the people in the business of lending money? That could have been the snag on Tuesday when there was an executive session meeting. So speculating again, that if the city told renaissance firm up this deal, let's get some guarantees, renaissance theoretically could have added a buck 50 additional surcharge to the surcharge they were already planning, they would put that aside and if these other revenues fall short, they would have that money and the city would tap into that.

Ted Simons: So you're talking tributaries to the revenue streams.

Paul Giblin: Parallel streams or something like that.

Ted Simons: A little geological thing. These meetings, these were closed-door meetings, what's that all about?

Paul Giblin: There's two types of meetings. There's your regular public meeting, which in Glendale, nothing gets done there. It's all done in executive sessions. These are the private meetings. Glendale when people are talking about how to spend taxpayer money, how to spend public money, that gets done in private and so they have these meetings in executive session and they discuss it and it's all done and they're winking and nodding and they trot it out to the public and they say voilà, here's the story. The Republic has repeatedly asked for these proposals, for these numbers and they repeatedly tell me it's in process, and I think what happens is they say all right, the Republic wants this so we're going to put about 90 names here and what a coincidence, just a day after we've all shaken hands, that's when the 90th person signs and we release it.

Ted Simons: I see. So it's secret, not so secret but secret nonetheless. Now, apparently quite public is the fact that the NHL has to get an answer here reasonably soon. Give us a timeline of what's going to happen.

Paul Giblin: It's hard to say ted because the NHL is in the business like all professional sports leagues of threatening to move a franchise if they don't get the deal they want, there's Seattle, Seattle's very popular these days with the NHL and the NBA as an alternative location. So they say if we don't get the deal we want, we can move it to Seattle, to Kansas City, we can move it to Houston, something like that. So that's always the threat. It's hard to judge how real that is because all professional teams do that but it is getting kind of close to the end if they want to move a team in time to start the next season.

Ted Simons: The NHL board of governors meeting the 27th or so, then there's some other meeting -- it's -- is there a drop dead anywhere in here?

Paul Giblin: Hard to say again. It's hard to say. This is what we do know: There is a meeting tomorrow on Friday, an executive session in which the polished up deal from renaissance which could have a surcharge on the tickets to make the deal good is going before the city council. The city council is next scheduled to meet in public, a voting meeting this coming Tuesday. So theoretically they could vote on that, however, people have said they probably want to let it air out.

Ted Simons: Is the NHL going to let things air out for about a week?

Paul Giblin: If they get enough reassurances, if they can count the votes ahead of time, they might approve the deal on the 27th, tentative to the city council doing its part and maybe early next month will cement the deal.

Ted Simons: And last question here. The city is still taking offers for running that arena, incorrect? Offers are still coming in absolutely or probably nothing to do with the Coyotes?

Paul Giblin: Sort of. Four proposals came in from non-hockey management companies, two of them got thrown away as not being realistic. So they have two that they're still debating or maybe they're not debating, maybe they're really working with Renaissance and they're just in their back pocket. They might come into play if the hockey team were to leave and you wanted to manage that arena and put Bon Jovi or whoever in there.

Ted Simons: If you want the circus on ice or whatever, that could still happen here. That's got to be a plan b.

Paul Giblin: That's probably plan b. It might not happen. I think there are plenty of members of the city council who want a deal. They would like enough camouflage to hide in. It sounds like Renaissance may have provided enough.

Ted Simons: It sounded like -- are they -- is the city -- is there a sense of urgency going on with this over there?

Paul Giblin: I think there is. I think the city is tired. They've been dealing it with for four years. One other important part, parking fees which Coyotes fans are not used to paying.

Ted Simons: Get used to it, I would imagine. Paul, good stuff, keep in contact with you, you keep us informed.

Paul Giblin: Thank you.

Evolving Libraries

  |   Video
  • The days of municipal libraries just offering books have changed. Libraries now offer iPads concierges, computers and even live chats with experts you can “check out.” Barbara Roberts, Tempe Deputy Community Services Director of Library & Cultural Services Division, will discuss how libraries have evolved.
  • Barbara Roberts - Tempe Deputy Community Services, Director of Library & Cultural Services Division
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: iPads, computers, library, tempe, technology,

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Ted Simons: Things are changing at your local public library. The books are still there, but so are a variety of other amenities and services. We’ll hear from a Tempe official about evolving libraries, but first, producer Christina Estes and videographer Scot Olson show us how Tempe’s library is changing to meet the community’s needs.

Christina Estes: It's 10:00 on a Tuesday morning and the entrance to the Tempe public library is packed.

Sarah Kaufman: We have families and children rushing in.

Christina Estes: Most head down the stairs for story time. About 150 kids fill this room twice a week. To wiggle, giggle and read a little.

Sarah Kaufman: It's a heavy draw for families who are looking for something free and fun to do.

Christina Estes: Parents also like the summer reading program where kids win prizes for finishing books.

Sarah Kaufman: We're probably going to have like families show up.

Christina Estes: Librarians want their office to be attractive to everyone.

Sarah Kaufman: I think libraries have really worked towards being more welcoming and more inviting to the community and realizing that the community has different needs.

Christina Estes: A concierge greets people at the front door and a few steps away is the cafe.

Sarah Kaufman: There's ample seating. Great place to hang out and stay cool all summer.

Christina Estes: Summer break brings plenty of young people to the teen center. Computers, comfy chairs and even a video gaming club draws them in.

Sarah Kaufman: Teens can come and just hang out and socialize and play video games in groups or on their own.

Christina Estes: Between all the computers, coffee meetings and lively programs, you can still find plenty of books and one designated room where you'll be shushed for talking.

Ted Simons: Here now to talk about the changing nature of local public libraries is Barbara Roberts, Tempe’s deputy director of community services in the library and cultural services division. Quite the title there.

Barbara Roberts: It's way too long.

Ted Simons: Well, welcome to the program.

Barbara Roberts: Thank you very much.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here. What is a public library?

Barbara Roberts: A public library is the last great democratic bastion of society's hopes and dreams. That's the official version. But a public library is whatever the user needs it to be. They are evolving so that we address the actual real-life needs of people in their everyday lives.

Ted Simons: Has the library's mission changed over the years and, if so, how?

Barbara Roberts: If you think back maybe to when you were young our even not so long ago, maybe 15, 10 years ago, people still thought of libraries as warehouses. You went to the warehouse, you get some stuff, you checked it out and you went home. Now, libraries are not so much a place to get things as a place to discover things. They've become active. It's gone from being a noun to a verb. It's active, it's engaging, people discover, they learn, they connect. So it's quite the active place.

Ted Simons: How much have computers changed this particular atmosphere?

Barbara Roberts: Computers have changed the atmosphere in the library in that people expect to be able to have them there and use them but the actual public library itself inside hasn't changed that much because of computers. However, the way people use libraries with computers has changed because they don't have to actually come to the brick-and-mortar building. They can use their computer from home and it would be as if they were in the library searching the collection. They can search for something at home, they can get it through a database, print it off at home or they can search our catalog online, download a book to their computer or mobile device and check it out and they're ready to go.

Ted Simons: Does that mean that fewer people are going to libraries because those services are there right in the living room?

Barbara Roberts: Libraries generally across the country have seen a gradual drop in people actually coming to the building because of those things but, in fact, the use of libraries and the services and the virtualness of what we do is increasing. So it's kind of a give-and-take.

Ted Simons: We saw the kids singing and dancing, we saw story time and those sorts of things. Why at a library and why is that important?

Barbara Roberts: Oh, why the library, why not? A library is a place where children to know that they can go and be themselves and discover and enjoy and have fun and that it's not a place that's going to tell them to be quiet and they can discover that they like to sing, they can discover that being with mom or dad or their caregivers at a story time is a time of bonding and all of that jumping around and all of that, believe it or not, actually addresses fine motor skills for young children.

Ted Simons: I just know when I was a kid if I started singing and dancing, they would show me the door, go that direction, that's changed!

Barbara Roberts: Yes, come on down again and relive.

Ted Simons: Teenagers on video games again, why the library and why is that important? I would think would want a little more engagement with the teenagers.

Barbara Roberts: Well, it's a hook. It's a hook. They come in for that and they stay and learn about other things. We do have a lot of video games the kids play but there are also kids who come in and maybe they're tired of the computer, they push back, they look around and they discover oh, my gosh, look at graphic novels, look, DVDs and they discover other things and they connect with other kids who have read a great book and before you know it, they're reading.

Ted Simons: With -- it almost seems like libraries are becoming more like community centers.

Barbara Roberts: They're becoming community engagement places. Community centers sometimes has a connotation of perhaps some other types of services but they definitely are community connection places. People connect with each other, they connect with information. They connect with the world. So they can be considered a community location certainly.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, the training for librarians, has that changed?

Barbara Roberts: Well, the degree has not changed. To be a librarian technically you need to have a master's degree in library and information science. So that has not changed. But the curriculum leading up to that title has drastically changed and, as a matter of fact, there are some libraries that are requiring their librarians to have degrees in social work. They're requiring them to have degrees in business development, public service, and that's because the nature of the people we serve has changed over the years. It's not just those folks who want to read a back.

Ted Simons: It's the community right now.

Barbara Roberts: It's the general public, very diverse community.

Ted Simons: Well, thank you so much for joining us and telling us more about -- we've got to get down there and check the library out.

Barbara Roberts: You really do.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Medicaid Expansion

  |   Video
  • Now that state lawmakers have approved expanding Medicaid to add more than 300,000 people, it is up to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System to implement the new plan. Tom Betlach, the director of AHCCCS, will discuss what’s next for the state’s health care plan for the poor.
  • Tom Betlach - Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Director
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: healthcare, arizona, law,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Now that state lawmakers have approved expanding Arizona’s Medicaid program, it’s up to the Arizona health care cost containment system to implement the new plan. Joining me now is AHCCCS director Tom Betlach. And Tom, thank you so much for -- holy mackerel. There is so much going on with this. It finally is a done deal. What does Medicaid expansion really do?

Tom Betlach: Well, it had a number of different things. So let's start with the most significant provision, which is it's going to provide healthcare coverage for about 300,000 Arizonans, low-income Arizonans. So the major piece of that is restoring coverage for a population that we had to impose a freeze on two years ago as a result of the great recession and the budget cuts. The first big piece is the restoration of that prop 204, that was an initiative passed back in to provide coverage for individuals up to 100% of the federal poverty limit.

Ted Simons: I want to get to the money right now. The federal match for Arizona dollars, $1.6 billion, something along those lines in the first year from the feds. Explain that. When does that start?

Tom Betlach: January 1st.

Ted Simons: And how is it distributed?

Tom Betlach: It's distributed in that if somebody's eligible, then that person receives either 100% federal coverage so the federal government will provide the state the funding for 100% of the costs of that individual if they're from 100% of the poverty limit, that's up to $15,000 for an individual. Or the additional federal match is for the childless adults and our match goes from a traditional two to one match to almost a nine to one match.

Ted Simons: And is that the first year only or in succeeding years, as well?

Tom Betlach: In succeeding years, as well. So the group and the expansion group that gets 100% federal participation, that's going to phase down. After three years it starts phasing down towards 90% by 2020. And then the other group stays at about 90%. So that's a significant shift in terms of the federal government paying for a portion of the state's AHCCCS program.

Ted Simons: And the federal money, before it gets to the person, where does it go beforehand.

Tom Betlach: It depends on plans that we contract with. We pay those health plans a set amount per month to provide the care to members and so they'll have a membership and they'll take care of the membership and have providers and hospitals and doctors that they contract with. So it works through that system, through managed care.

Ted Simons: As far as the assessment on hospitals, when does that happen?

Tom Betlach: That will start January 1st, that helps pay for a portion of the state's costs. So the state does have some costs. We will be working with our hospital partners to sort of figure out what that final framework looks like and what the assessment looks like and we'll have it in place for January 1st.

Ted Simons: A general example here, ted's hospital, I've had trouble with the emergency room visits and uncompensated care. How much do I get, how is that decided?

Tom Betlach: What happens typically is somebody will show up now, they'll require services, if they're uninsured, the hospital has to provide coverage according to federal law for that individual, starting on January 1st, that individual will be able to enroll in the AHCCCS program. They'll select a plan, a United Plan or some of the other plans that we have in our system. And then the plan will pay the hospital for the services rendered. We would hope that people aren't going to the urgency department at that point. Hopefully, they're going to see their primary care physician. That's how the funding flow works.

Ted Simons: And for a point of clarification, the assessment, that money is used to draw as leverage, if you will, for the federal money.

Tom Betlach: It is.

Ted Simons: Explain that again, please.

Tom Betlach: So what happens is we will make an assessment on hospitals. Hospitals are the single largest beneficiary of the coverage from a monetary perspective. So roughly about 50% of the funds that we send goes to the hospitals. It's an assessment. They'll pay that money to access. We will then use that money as part of the state's portion of the costs to participate in the Medicaid program.

Ted Simons: What do we have as far as oversight of this money and this program?

Tom Betlach: Well, there is clearly legislative interest in this program. There will be reports that we provide to the legislature in terms of how it's going. There's obviously a lot of interest from the hospital community. So we're going to have a transparent process with them in terms of sharing all the information, a lot of stakeholder meetings but clearly, moving forward because of the legislative interest in this, I would anticipate that, you know, there will be informational hearings and things like that in the future in terms of just looking at how this plays out.

Ted Simons: And much of this does start January 1st.

Tom Betlach: Much of it does.

Ted Simons: Okay. And again, for point of clarification, if I'm at 100% of the poverty level right now, what changes?

Tom Betlach: Well, what changes right now is if you do not have any dependent children, you're not eligible for the AHCCCS program because of the freeze. So starting January 1st, you will now be eligible for the AHCCCS system again. So that's the significant change that occurs.

Ted Simons: 133% of poverty level right now, what changes?

Tom Betlach: Right now, you're not eligible for the AHCCCS system. Starting January 1st, you are eligible for the AHCCCS system.

Ted Simons: As far as services, medical, dental, do they change, are they the same?

Tom Betlach: It's the benefit package remains what it is now, it does not include dental services but all the major medical services, prescription drugs, inpatient, out patient, physical therapy, services like that, they're all included within the passenger, behavioral health services, all part of the AHCCCS package.

Ted Simons: Assessment like million?

Tom Betlach: We're going to start the first year, state fiscal year starting on January 1st. That's midway through the fiscal year. We're going to see a significant increase in the AHCCCS population. So we're not fully sure how quickly that population will present. So we are estimating about $75 million for the first six months of it from January to July 1st. We're then going to reevaluate the governor's budget that was presented to the legislature, it was predicated on an estimate of $250 million in fiscal year 2015. One of the things we're going to tell the hospitals and the other stakeholders is because of the flexibility that was provided for in the legislation, we're going to go ahead and set up a rate for six months. We'll re-establish it, look and see what population costs are after that and we'll reassess.

Ted Simons: Will there be much of an informational campaign for those saying, by the way, here's what you need to know?

Tom Betlach: There will be information available at the majority of the applications are done at the department of economic security, our sister agency. There will be information available there. We're moving to a new eligibility system in which roughly 40% of our applications come online now. I think it's going to be a higher number in the future and I think there will be a lot of challenges in terms of communicating to individuals not only the changes in the AHCCCS program but, of course, all the other changes in healthcare under the affordable care act and the federally facilitated marketplace and that's a whole other show but it's a lot of complexity in terms of the changes in the healthcare system leading up to January 1st.

Ted Simons: It really is. There's so much information out there that needs to be sent out and sometimes I think people are just holding up their hands and say I can't take it. Last question you talked about what's going to happen here at the 1st of the year. When will the states, by they hospital providers, the state itself, patients, tangible changes? When do you think the landscape really will change?

Tom Betlach: Well, I think what people don't necessarily appreciate is what an important policy this decision was, that hospitals, uncompensated care had doubled and that many hospitals were on the verge of really going through some challenging fiscal conditions and so that was somewhat seamless to the public person but this really helps stabilize that system. From what the public will see, it's that eligibility to the access program starting January 1st. That's the big change that's going to occur.

Ted Simons: All right, Tom Betlach, good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Tom Betlach: Appreciate it.