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November 14, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: New Arts Funding

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Commission on the Arts received a one-time budget allocation of $1 million for fiscal year 2014 from the state legislature. The new money will be used to support the commission’s existing statewide grant-making activities to promote arts education and access to nonprofit art organizations. It will also be used to create a pair of brand new grant programs designed to support innovative art initiatives. Arts Commission Executive Director Robert Booker will discuss the new funding.
  • Robert Booker - Executive Director, The Arizona Commission of the Arts
Keywords: funding, grant, arts, initiatives ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The Arizona commission on the arts received a one-time budget allocation of $1 million from state legislature last session set to be used to support existing statewide grants and to develop new programs targeting innovative arts initiatives. Robert Booker is the arts commission's executive director. Thanks for being here. One time budget allocation, $1 million. How big a deal is that?

Robert Booker: A big deal. It's the first time the agency was not cut in the last five years, the first time the agency received a boost in funding. It was a major deal. It was a bill passed by bipartisan issues so we had a great lead in Senator Farley, we had folks on both sides of the aisle really helping push this through. The money came from the rainy day fund, the interest off of that fund. The idea was we should put those dollars to work and what better way to put them to work than increase the opportunities that the arts industry has for gaining our economy across Arizona.

Ted Simons: No impact on the general fund, interest off the rainy day fund.

Robert Booker: Yes, sir.

Ted Simons: The impact on your grant making, talk to us about grant making. The process and what this does.

Robert Booker: Sure. We took 70% of that million and put it right into our annual grant making program which goes out to arts organizations across the state. We found that these organizations are part of the economic recovery of Arizona, part of the arts and education programs of Arizona, and we needed to reinforce their strength with a bit more money to really help them move through this economy. They were hit hard and in many cases had to cut staff, had to cut programming, so we are now in a recovery mode with the arts industry in Arizona. A solid recovery mode. These dollars did help to bring that about. We again have to go back next year and try to capture the dollars again, but it's interesting to think that only $1 million can have the impact that it did across the state.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about some of the new programs this will help fund. The community catalyst grants.

Robert Booker: We have two new programs, community catalyst is all about partnerships. The idea that two partners can do better than one. So this is a program that enables nonprofit arts organizations to partner with a local business, with chamber of commerce, with tourism visitors bureau, with the social service group in their community to make an impact on that community, a positive impact on that community. So it's all about partnerships and we're also focused on small and rural communities as well. So we're really pushing this out to our smaller communities across the state.

Ted Simons: Explain an enriching arts program to a community under 100,000. Give me the description of what that could be.

Robert Booker: It could be a partnership with the chamber of commerce to bring tourists to that community. It could be a partnership with the YMCA, the boys and girls clubs to work on a safe park initiative. It could be a project working with a school system or with an elder care facility providing arts and education in partnership with that. It could be about safe streets, safe parks. Taking care of our seniors, our community. All the things that arts and business can do together.

Ted Simons: The other new program big one here, Arizona art talk.

Robert Booker: Arizona art tank.

Ted Simons: I'm sorry, I got that wrong.

Robert Booker: It's a great program. It's built after the shark tank show, frankly. What we're challenging our arts organizations to do is come up with something innovative that's new, creative. They will present those programs, those ideas, to panels, local panels in five communities in Arizona and that local panel of Sharks that you may say will make the decision right there in the evening. We'll also have an audience that will get a small vote in awarding one of the tiny grants that go out in that. But the idea is that our arts organizations have been under fire since the economy went down. There have been really looking forward to just making the budget, keeping the things going, offering the programs they need and quite frankly they are kind of hunkered down. We believe, and know, that the arts are one of the most creative aspects of our community and so why not encourage arts organizations to think outside the box, to think of something exciting.

Ted Simons: With that in mind the criteria for that art tank, you have judges all looking and trying to pick and choose. What are they picking and choosing from?

Robert Booker: They are picking and choosing from applications that come into the agency from nonprofit arts organizations that are planning a project that is innovative, new, we're calling it also business unusual. The idea that maybe there's something that you have always wanted to do with your arts organization in relationship to your community. Maybe a connection you've wanted to make or an idea for self-sustaining work. Or an idea that may challenge the assumptions that people in your community have about your art form. A way to develop more audience. All of those will be eligible.

Ted Simons: It seems to me all this is reflecting a bit of a change now in how arts organizations are funded, how art is distributed. This is forged by fire it sounds like.

Robert Booker: It's a huge change. With the reductions in the arts commission, we had a $20 million endowment that was swept. 2.3 million annual appropriation that is no longer existent. When you're poor you better be hard working. What we decided is we turn our grant program upside down and focused on how our nonprofit arts organizations are reserving Arizonans, how they are handling public dollars, so making sure that they are fiscally sound, and how they are relating to their own community. Those are the three criteria we used this last year in this new normal because we believe that the arts industry has a huge impact on Arizona and it's our job to help move them forward and help keep them secure.

Ted Simons: We have about 30 seconds left. One time allocation, what are the odds of it being two, three, four time allocation?

Robert Booker: I sure hope it can be. We'll work hard with our friends at the legislature, our governor's office. She was supportive of this last initiative so we thank her for that. It's a bipartisan issue, an issue that serves Arizonans and an issue that helps us be mindful of our future.

Ted Simons: Bob, thanks for joining us.

Robert Booker: Great to be with you.

BioXFEL Center

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  • Arizona State University is teaming up with seven other research universities to form a new Science and Technology Center that will use x-ray lasers to image bioparticles, make molecular movies and help design new drugs. The BioXFEL Center will be based at the University at Buffalo and will focus on developing a new bio-imaging technique to analyze molecules at which drug molecules can be targeted. Regents’ Professor of Physics at ASU John Spence will serve as the center’s director of science. He will talk about the BioXFEL Center.
  • John Spence - Regents’ Professor of Physics, Arizona State University
Category: Science   |   Keywords: ASU, science, research, center,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: ASU teaming up with five other research universities to form a new science and technology center that will use x-ray lasers to better understand how viruses and other bio particles work. ASU regents' professor of physics John Spence will serve as the center's director of science and he joins us now. Describe the center for us.

John Spence: It's a consortium of six or seven universities which the national science foundation established were the largest part of it. The lead institution is in Buffalo. The purpose is to use the x-ray laser, the first in the world, the Department of Energy built, 600 million near Stanford in a tunnel two miles long to try to get movies of molecular machines at work.

Ted Simons: Now, this again, this tunnel is in Stanford.

John Spence: Correct.

Ted Simons: The center is based at the University of Buffalo.

John Spence: They actually handle the outreach and education component. We are the lead in science, basic research. The others are Stanford, Milwaukee, UCS, and Rice. It was remarkable competition. We wrote this proposal two years ago. There were I think 300 applications. They made three awards to Harvard, Stanford and us.

Ted Simons: Congratulations on that. That's why there's such an emphasis here at ASU. Let's talk about what will be emphasized. X-ray lasers to what, molecular level activity?

John Spence: If you think of a chest X-ray, you imagine blowing up the magnification, that's what we're trying to do, make a movie of molecular machines. To see such fine detail on a chest X-ray as the atoms themselves you need enormously intense illumination. So intense you destroy what you're looking at. The break through is to understand if you make the pulse significantly brief, shutter speed of this machine is a millionth of a millionth of a second or less. So brief that we can get a snapshot of this before it blows up, before we damage it. We have outrun radiation damage, we say. We can get snapshots so we can see the molecules that are involved in things like drug design and as you said viruses and so forth.

Ted Simons: I think we have a simulation of what's going on here. Looks like spacecraft docking, for goodness sake. But I wanted to ask you about that because taking an x-ray of anything at any level is- you have to have some caution there. You're talking about so the pretty sensitive stuff. You say if you make that shutter exposure quick enough you can avoid the damage?

John Spence: That's correct. That's the breakthroughs on which this is based.

Ted Simons: This is, what, a virus just causing mayhem here?

John Spence: This is work from Rossman's lab. It's an animation made up of bits and pieces from- actually a simulation made up of stills from different techniques. We would like to do that live. Rather we would like to at least see what the joints are doing and we might do that by making crystals of the parts of the joints. To understand the mechanism. Similar thing with the genes thought to cause cancer. I'm working with Petra Fromm who’s very important when it comes to photosynthesis. All Green plants split water to make the oxygen we breathe appeared she's made good progress in making a movie of that process. It maintains a biosphere, digests CO2. It's a really fundamental to life on earth and we would like to see those molecules doing their job.

Ted Simons: You're basically doing molecular documentaries.

John Spence: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: To do these you need reasoning. You need to find an end result. That end result I would imagine finds the way that these particles and viruses act; find a drug that addresses that.

John Spence: Correct. We already have a paper on sleeping sickness. This affects about million people. We have a paper last year where with a group from Hamburg on how drug molecules work to prevent the enzyme which is essential to that disease to be fatal and so that can be inhibited by putting a drug molecule on to the right protein to prevent catalytic activity of the protein.

Ted Simons: Is there a concern you're documenting what's happening here and addressing that virus here by eliminating that there's a butterfly effect happening over here where you don't know what's going on?

John Spence: That's entirely possible. We can only focus on one point at a time. To take the snapshot we have to later destroy the particle. We need multiple copies of things we're taking pictures of. We take snapshots of different parts of the cycle of the process.

Ted Simons: Give us an example of how the process would work from ASU. Does ASU move up to Stanford for this?

John Spence: Teams of students and post-grads. We live on airplanes of course. I have wonderful group of professors to work with, Petra Fromm in photo sensitive is a genius. Brenda Hogue is involved with the viruses. We have students and post DOCs that fly back and forth to Menlo Park and go eat bad food and sleep in a cave for a week.

Ted Simons: How long is this going to last?

John Spence: Well, these things usually go ten years. For ten years about $50 million grant. That's between all the universities.

Ted Simons: And what does this mean for ASU's reputation bio imaging, the whole nine yards?

John Spence: It's very good for us. I have to say the big picture, we're very fortunate. We were the first users of this, the world's first x-ray laser. But generally the picture for young scientists in this country is very poor since I came here 30 years ago the chances of getting a grant, rejection rate is about 90%. That will drive away young scientists from taking careers in academic research unfortunately which will mean the lead will go to other countries. Our grant is a wonderful thing to happen to ASU, but the general picture is pretty bleak.

Ted Simons: Do you see kids coming in with interest in science saying-

John Spence: I had a student come into my office -- I have been here 30 years. This has never happened to me. A student came to my office, he was leaving to get a job. He looked at me and said, John, I don't want to do what you do. That's never happened. He means constantly write grants in competition with a 90% failure rate. Which is worse than the failure rate for small businesses.

Ted Simons: It does sound worse. Congratulations on this particular success. Let's see where it leads. We will certainly keep track of it. Thanks so much.

John Spence: Thanks very much.

Health Insurance Marketplace Update

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  • It’s been more than a month since the Affordable Care Act was launched. The web site used to sign up for health insurance under the plan has been plagued with problems. The Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers received the biggest amount of money granted by the federal government to Arizona “Navigators,” who are charged with helping people sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Senior Director for External Affairs of the Alliance Tara McCollum Plese give us an update on her organization’s experiences in helping people sign up for insurance.
  • Tara McCollum Plese - Senior Director of External Affairs, Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: health insurance,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. President Obama today announced that insurance companies can continue offering plans that would otherwise be canceled under the affordable health care act. The reprieve will last one year. The move comes as a myriad of problems is slowing the ACA's progress. Joining us now is Tara McCollum Plese of the Arizona alliance for community health centers, charged with helping people sign up for health care coverage. Good to see you again.

Tara McCollum Plese: Thank you. Good to see you too.

Ted Simons: I know you're very busy these days. What are you seeing, hearing out there?

Tara McCollum Plese: We're hearing a lot of criticism and a lot of it is justified. We understand the frustration, however we're staying very positive about it because we have so many people coming to us who have never had insurance or have gone years without health insurance because they have preexisting conditions, they were employed, lost their job or reemployed and have an employer who doesn't provide health insurance. We see a great amount of need out there. People who are very anxious to get health care coverage. So that's the part we see most often quite honestly.

Ted Simons: Numbers. Less than 750 in Arizona with signing up for the coverage I guess getting their coverage. Little bit of a surprise that it seems awfully low.

Tara McCollum Plese: The numbers we got yesterday from health and human services is that we actually completed 17,220 applications. So that is for the marketplace, and over 7,000 of those folks were eligible for the subsidy. So they are still working through all of that. This is fairly complicated. You can imagine if you have employer based health insurance and your employer chooses a plan for you and all you have to choose is whether you want PPO, HMO or HSA, that's difficult enough but these folks that are going on the marketplace, are faced with eight different health care plans and 109 choices amongst the health plans. So it becomes a little complicated and you throw in the subsidies it's going to take some time to get people through the system and help steer them towards what they need and we're going to be using very trusted brokers to help with that process. It's very complicated.

Ted Simons: 17,000 applied and are maybe somewhere in the chain. But 700 or so have actually gone through. Those are the numbers being reported.

Tara McCollum Plese: 739 Actually completed.

Ted Simons: So 17,000 that might eventually be completed.

Tara McCollum Plese: Correct. They are in the queue.

Ted Simons: There we go. That makes better sense.

Tara McCollum Plese: They are in the queue.

Ted Simons: Are you surprised only 17,000 have signed up?

Tara McCollum Plese: You know, actually, we were surprised that there were as many as 17,000 quite honestly. Yesterday there were a group of us who met and we were all taking bets on what that number would be. We all low balled it. The closest was 450. We were quite surprised.

Ted Simons: The people in the queue, the 17,000 that you want to add to the 739 already through, what kind of problems are they facing? Obviously you mentioned indecision. You mentioned the complicated process. The bugs that we keep hearing about, the problems that are here, there, everywhere. Where do you see it?

Tara McCollum Plese: There were a lot of people who get about halfway through the application and then they have difficulty getting through the rest of it because of the glitches in the system. When I'm hearing anecdotally, I'm not a navigator on the front line, nor am I certified application counselor. I don't know what the front line people are experiencing with folks, but what I have heard anecdotally is more people are actually getting through the entire application process and getting to the end. What we're seeing here in these numbers are those folks that started early and keep going back and attempting to get through that system. At this point on I think it will be much easier process and we have been assured by November 30th that it's going to be much easier for these folks.

Ted Simons: Are you confident that's going to happen?

Tara McCollum Plese: Yes. Fairly -- can I say fairly?

Ted Simons: You can say whatever you want.

Tara McCollum Plese: Fairly confident.

Ted Simons: The president today said he was going to give a one-year reprieve on folks who had their insurance policies canceled because they didn't meet the requirements set forth by the ACA. What are you seeing and hearing a lot of folks, people on the front lines of your organization, running into a lot of folks saying I'm here only because I had my insurance policy canceled?

Tara McCollum Plese: Actually, we haven't had anybody at this point who has reported back to us that people who got that termination notice were coming to them to apply in the marketplace. So I think it's more of- it was more a matter of they were angry, they vented, but we're waiting for next steps. We didn't see a rush to the marketplace because they got a termination notice.

Ted Simons: They got the termination notice because the insurance company decided or I guess assessed the fact that this policy, whatever they had, was not up to minimum standards of the ACA?

Tara McCollum Plese: Correct. It didn't meet the ten essential benefits requirement under the ACA. So they got this notice. Now, it really would be up to that health plan to work with their customer to ensure that they get a different plan and many of those health plans are actually the same plans that are on the marketplace. So really it behooves many of these large commercial health plans to make sure that they get these people enrolled on the marketplace or in their private market. That they bring these for lack of a better word, their substandard policies up to a better policy that will cover more and have more benefits for these folks.

Ted Simons: There's a lot of negativity right now regarding the affordable care act, the signing up process, the whole nine yards. Obviously you have to deal with these people and help these folks and you're dealing through the affordable care act with grants but still, is that negativity justified?

Tara McCollum Plese: I would say in some situations, the criticism is justified. The negativity, no. I do not believe the negativity is justified. Because there are a lot of people who are really doing their best to ensure that everybody who needs and wants health care coverage receives that health care coverage whether it's Medicaid, whether it's the chip program for children, or the marketplace or private health insurance plan.

Ted Simons: I want to ask about Medicaid. Are you seeing a lot of folks, hearing from folks that wind up on access?

Tara McCollum Plese: We had in our system well over 11,000 people, that's just for AACHC, and over all I think that that is really about the area that we are right now with Medicaid. Well over 11,000 people in that month. A lot of it is because these people were dropped when there was a freeze on childless adults. They are probably the first to line up to reapply for Medicaid.

Ted Simons: I guess they are willing to go through whatever they have to to get what they once had. Good luck. November 30th, lots of sunshine and daffodils by November 30th, correct?

Tara McCollum Plese: I hope so. We're counting on it.

Ted Simons: We'll check back with you. Thanks for being here.

Tara McCollum Plese: Thank you.