September 19, 2011
Host: Ted Simons
Arizona Health Insurance Exchange
- 40 Arizona organizations are backing the creation of a health insurance exchange to make health care more affordable for more Arizonans. Dana Wolfe Naimark, President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance and Jack Beveridge, CEO of Empowerment Systems, describe the proposal.
- Dana Wolfe Naimark - President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance, Jack Beveridge - CEO of Empowerment Systems
| Keywords: health insurance
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. More than 40 community groups are calling for the creation of an Arizona health insurance exchange. They've endorsed several key ingredients for a successful program that would keep costs down while providing a marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop for health plans and receive subsidies. Joining us to talk about all this is Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of children's action alliance. And Jack Beveridge, president and CEO of Empowerment Systems. He's also a board member for the Arizona Rural Health Association. Thanks for joining us.
Jack Beveridge: Thank you.
Dana Wolfe Naimark: Thank you.
Ted Simons: A state health insurance exchange. What are we talking about here?
Dana Wolfe Naimark: This is a part of our future of healthcare in our country, and in Arizona. Healthcare exchange will be the new marketplace where people can go get health insurance, if you don't have it through your employer and so it will be a new place for small businesses and individuals and it’s actually projected that about a million Arizonans will be getting their healthcare through the exchange so it's vital we get involved in how we want to design that exchange.
Ted Simons: How would this exchange work? Give us the machinations here.
Jack Beveridge: Well, this exchange is aimed really at low to moderate income folks and small businesses that have a hard time finding health insurance and health coverage. It's especially important for the low income groups who are -- tend to be on AHCCCS now or not qualified enough for AHCCCS because they make a little bit too much money or not enough or don't have coverage with their employer. We operate a wellness center in Apache Junction, serving mostly Pinal County and we’re finding that people do need a lot of help to find insurance and this would really fit the bill for them.
Ted Simons: Talk about the relationship between this kind of exchange and AHCCCS. What's the dynamic there?
Dana Wolfe Naimark: Well, the relationship ideally will be a seamless transition- the exchange will be a one-stop, a grand efficient website where people can go and compare healthcare options given their own circumstances and AHCCCS will be one of those opposites and it will be designed so that if you no longer qualify for AHCCCS you can easily transition to another type of coverage through the exchange.
Ted Simons: So who would -- I guess you find out if you qualify -- does anyone qualify, does anyone not qualify for such a thing?
Jack Beveridge: There will be criteria for qualifications but what we're looking at is an electronic kind of shopping cart, if you will, that gives a good comparison of the different plans in a standardized fashion and people -- well, we help people right now, go into the internet and look for low income -- I mean, affordable insurance and AHCCCS and they can sign up, actually enroll with AHCCCS over the internet.
Ted Simons: You are dealing with folks who are applying to a similar sort of thing, correct?
Jack Beveridge: Yes, we are.
Ted Simons: What are you seeing as far as challenges there?
Jack Beveridge: It's not real simple to navigate systems of care and you do need assistance and so we have coaches on board that actually help people go on the websites and shop and help them enroll.
Ted Simons: You need assistance and healthy people to make sure that the thing pays for itself, I would think. How do you ensure that happens?
Dana Wolfe Naimark: A variety of ways. We're focused on keeping this simple for consumers and keeping it affordable like you said. You want to avoid only having people with medical conditions in the exchange. Part of it is how you design it and what rules. A couple of things we're suggesting with the 40 organizations is to make sure that the same rules for insurance companies and health plans apply inside the exchange and outside the exchange. You don't want them have disincentives to be in the exchange or incentives to be only outside of the exchange. You want it to be extremely broad so that there are healthy people and people with health conditions in the exchange.
Ted Simons: Does that make for something that is too broad? How do you get that to work?
Dana Wolfe Naimark: No, I don't think there's such a thing as too broad. I think it will be more successful the broader it is, and not everyone who goes to the exchange will qualify for a reduction in their premiums but everyone can go to the exchange and look for the options available.
Ted Simons: So standardized plans, standardized ideas, as much as possible here, to keep too many bumps in the road?
Jack Beveridge: To make them comparable so that it's easy for people to look at the plans, put them side by side and then make the right choice.
Ted Simons: Can there be too many options, especially for folks who don't feel that well or are getting up in age. Sometimes, dealing with health insurances in general can be a labyrinth, can you have too many options out there?
Jack Beveridge: Isn't it in Utah, I think, Dana, they just opened it up to everyone and they have something like 143 plans. Think about how that would be to figure out what’s best for you.
Ted Simons: How do you decide what's in and out?
Dana Wolfe Naimark: We're suggesting that the board of exchange be allowed to limit the number of plans. Doesn't mean they have to limit it but if it's getting to the point where there are too many options they can look at ways to make it doable for consumers. In Utah, they found when they survived small businesses, many small businesses went on the exchange to look and left without buying anything because they could not figure out what the choices were because there were too many choices.
Ted Simons: You mentioned the governing board, who’s on the board, how do you get there and who decides who gets there?
Dana Wolfe Naimark: That's up to Arizona, that's one of the exciting and challenging things about where we're at right now. We have a lot of choices to make in Arizona about how we want our exchange to look. And again, with this community perspective, from these 40 organizations, we are suggesting that the board be appointed by a combination of the governor, of the attorney general, and the majority and minority leadership in the legislature so it can be a diverse group and have majority consumer representation on the board.
Ted Simons: Who pays for all of this? Will legislative appropriations be necessary?
Jack Beveridge: It's -- that's possible, but not likely, right now. It's a tax credit program where actually the premium is reduced for based on sliding fee scale according to the income of the individual. And then it’s reduced to make it affordable. So it is subsidized by the federal government.
Dana Wolfe Naimark: Arizona will have to figure out how to finance our portion over time and one of our suggestions, however we finance it, it's broad base so we're not only charging people in the exchange. Again, that could be a disincentive. It's a part of our overall healthcare system so we’re looking for broad base financing.
Ted Simons: It seems like something similar came up in the last legislative session. I could be wrong here, but it just rings a little bit of a bell.
Dana Wolfe Naimark: You're right.
Ted Simons: But the bell didn’t ring very long and hard.
Dana Wolfe Naimark: It was a very quiet bell.
Ted Simons: A quiet bell. What's different this time? What’s happening here?
Dana Wolfe Naimark: We don't know yet what's different. There were two bills proposed last year neither got very far as you recalled. Since then, the planning has been centered in the governor's office and actually the governor’s office received a million dollar federal planning grant so they’ve been moving forward looking at some of the operational issues, the website issues- how do we get a website up and running? And now we’re looking at this as the beginning of a community conversation to bring up some of these other design issues and see where we go from here.
Ted Simons: Other states doing this right now?
Jack Beveridge: A number of other states are involved. Dana, you --
Dana Wolfe Naimark: Ten states, yeah, ten have passed legislation. One state has passed an executive order and many states are like us, in the process of figuring out what they want to do and how they want to do it.
Ted Simons: You deal a lot with rural health issues. What are you seeing out there? Obviously, this would affect a lot of people in a variety of ways. But specifically, folks out in rural Arizona.
Jack Beveridge: Absolutely, I'm glad you asked me that, because active outreach is a part of this plan. It's a part of -- and that means getting out into the community, and not waiting for them to come to us and we have different sites that our staff goes to, that our coaches go to and help people enroll for the benefits and that's the outreach. We don't -- we don't -- we're a multidisciplinary program. We don't just deal with health. We help people apply for unemployment and jobs and things like that.
Ted Simons: But as far as health issues right now and health insurance issues, pretty tough in rural Arizona?
Jack Beveridge: Absolutely, very tough. And that's why this program would provide coverage for some of the people where there just is none.
Ted Simons: What is next and what needs to be done to get this started, to get this off the ground?
Dana Wolfe Naimark: Well, we need conversations with state legislators and with the governor's office. And keep talking about some of these key design components.
Ted Simons: Have you had -- what is the response of late? We know what it was last session. Are you sensing a shift? Are you some folks listening maybe a little longer and a little harder?
Dana Wolfe Naimark: I think there is a lot of interest and a lot of disagreement and a lot of perspectives at the state legislature. I think our group of community organizations and a lot of folks in the business community feel very strongly that we are much better off if we do it our way in Arizona and not leave it to the feds to run. But not every legislator agrees with that, so that will be a part of the upcoming discussion.
Ted Simons: And if someone wants some more information from this, if they didn’t get quite enough information from this interview, where do they go?
Dana Wolfe Naimark: You can visit our website at azchildren.org. And we have a variety of briefing materials and a list of other resources to look at about the exchange.
Ted Simons: Alright very good. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
Dana Wolfe Naimark: Thank you.
Jack Beveridge: Thank you.
Environmental Excellence Awards
- Each year, the Valley Forward Association recognizes environmentally sensitive projects throughout the Valley of the Sun that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. VFA President Diane Brossart and Lori Singleton of Salt River Project review the 2011 award winners.
- Diane Brossart - VFA President, Lori Singleton - Salt River Project
| Keywords: environment
Ted Simons: For 31 years, environmentally sensitive buildings, projects and initiatives have been recognized by Valley Forward with its Environmental Excellence Awards. Valley Forward, in partnership with SRP, announced the 2011 award winners over the weekend. Here with a look at some of the winners is Diane Brossart, president of Valley Forward. And Lori Singleton of Salt River Project. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us on "Horizon." All right. Diane, what is Valley Forward?
Diane Brossart: Valley Forward is a 42-year-old environmental public interest group, primarily business based. Brings business and civic leaders together to convene dialogue on issues relating to the environment and sustainability and how we grow and hopefully that we grow in harmony with the natural environment.
Ted Simons: And how did these awards get started?
Diane Brossart: These awards were started in 1980, it started as a building and structures show, about the architectural design and eventually it grew to be just on sustainability and the categories got broader. And we started looking at things like public art and technology and education and now they're the academy awards of the environmental community.
Ted Simons: They certainly are. And SRP has been involved for how long now?
Lori Singleton: This was our 10th year as being the primary sponsor and it's a great way for us to be able to showcase what others in the valley are doing as it relates to sustainability.
Ted Simons: And as far as now judging the awards, who judges? How does that work?
Diane Brossart: We get an expert panel of judges with people who represent each of the award categories. Our lead judge was Christine Ten Eyck from Ten Eyck Landscape Architects and then we had a couple of architects and a couple of technology experts and so there’s nine judges total so that you have an even -- you know, when you vote, so you get a clear winner and it took place over two days, we had over 130 entries this year. So there were a lot of entries.
Ted Simons: What are you looking for here? What is the criteria? What's given more weight than others?
Lori Singleton: I think the -- it depends on the project and whether it's technology or if architecture or if it’s art. Each of the categories has specific criteria as it relates to that award. Each one is judged on the criteria for that.
Ted Simons: How many different categories do we have going here?
Diane Brossart: There are six broad based but 21 inside of that and really we’re looking at what sets the bar, you know, what is the best in each category and for that honor, the best in each category, we give the first place, the Crescordia Award.
Ted Simons: Which means?
Diane Brossart: Which is a Greek term. You should know, Ted. You did a great job of emceeing the show this year. This is a test.
Ted Simons: You’re right about that. I don't remember what “crescordia” means?
Diane Brossart: It means to grow in harmony. From this perspective, taking the built environment and marrying it with the natural environment and how does that look and how does it be sustainable for the long term.
Ted Simons: Before we get to the winners, are we seeing more entries, more folks, individuals, organizations, groups getting involved? At least in projects that would be recognized by Valley Forward?
Lori Singleton: Absolutely, each year we see more and more projects that are participating and each year, it just sets the bar as it relates to what others are doing and what they can do. That's one of the things we really want it look at. How can other organizations take what these projects have done and apply that to their own project?
Ted Simons: Let's look at the winners, the bigger, the President's Award. This is an interesting award because it's a road. And you wouldn't think environmental excellence would be awarded to a highway.
Diane Brossart: Intuitively, you won't compare a roadway project with an environmental award. However this project, U.S. 60 Gonzales Pass really exemplifies environmental stewardship it in so many ways. It’s a highway broadening project from two to four lanes. They took painstaking care to protect and preserve the environment around the project and, in fact, they did a plant inventory and cactus salvage replanting plans were completed for all sorts of cacti and that’s just amazing all by itself. They took 150,000 cubic yards of earth from failed slopes and replaced it to get the natural lay of the land and return it to its natural state.
Ted Simons: Did I see a tortoise crossing there?
Diane Brossart: You did. They had a tortoise crossing.
Ted Simons: Is it between Apache Junction and Boyce Thompson Arboretum? Where is this?
Lori Singleton: Yes on the way up to Superior.
Ted Simons: Ok, so when you're up there and think things are looking awful pretty, it’s because you're on the Gonzales Pass.
Diane Brossart: So what it does is it has been a sustainable feature for the mining communities and small towns in that area and protects the Arizona wildlife at the same time, so it's a remarkable project.
Ted Simons: The next winner is the Intel Ocotillo Campus. This one was for General Environmental Stewardship?
Lori Singleton: They received a couple of awards. One was for their Environmental Stewardship as it relates to everything they do in their businesses on the Ocotillo Campus. One of the things we know that's important is engaging employees as you think of sustainability and they've done an outstanding job of engaging their employees and another thing they have done is they have a project that's the first in the world, and not too many of us can claim a project that’s the first in the world, but that relates to their Ocotillo Campus and being the first company to receive a LEED Silver Award for a project that's already built. It took them about three years to really demonstrate and document all of their sustainable practices but obviously they did a great job and they’re very happy about this award. As are all of us, we can give them a good round of applause for their efforts.
Ted Simons: Alright very good, let’s keep it moving here, it's not just roads and buildings, but educational programs as well?
Diane Brossart: Educational programs have been at the heart and soul of Valley Forward since its inception in 1969, we need to create future stewards of the environment and we're all about teaching and mentoring. The city of Glendale has a wonderful program called Conservation and Sustainable Living and they’re educating residents and businesses on ways to implement environmental practices. They have given away free at their environmental fairs 6300 devices like programmable thermostats and energy efficiency showerheads and all kinds of gadgets and they have Watt Watchers, which is a science based regionally focused energy education program for teachers that they're doing. They're doing a lot in terms of zeroscape, have you been down to the city hall?
Ted Simons: The tree thing?
Diane Brossart: They have a zeroscape garden with information with what's planted there and how it saves water and they're promoting energy and water conservation through that project as well.
Ted Simons: All right. And that's Glendale?
Diane Brossart: Glendale.
Ted Simons: And over in Phoenix, they were recognized for public art. What does that mean?
Lori Singleton: They have 150 public art projects that really are looking at promoting sustainability and some of the projects that they've done include the Arizona Falls, Sunnyslope Canal Demonstration, Highland Canal, and they actually were where this office of arts and culture was founded more than 25 years ago, and today, one of the interesting things about these public art projects, you typically have engineers working with artists working with landscape designers and when you think about that, you would not think the outcome would be what it is. But they've done a great job in creating projects that are showcasing public art in the city of Phoenix.
Ted Simons: We recognize that down here near the channel Eight studios and we some of those canals, the waterfall canals along Indian school and Scottsdale?
Lori Singleton: 56th Street. That’s an SRP project.
Ted Simons: Great stuff.
Diane Brossart: Using art to create a sense of place and a gathering place for people is really important to creating vibrant livable cities. They definitely make an impact.
Ted Simons: We’ve gone from Glendale to Phoenix and now we’re going to--
Diane Brossart: Let’s go to Chandler.
Ted Simons: That city hall in Chandler that’s a nice looking building.
Dana Wolfe Naimark: That is a spectacular building and I know that from having gone there a couple of times. It's wonderful. Work to LEED Gold Certification, LEED is Leadership and Energy in Environmental Design sort of standards and they well exceeded in their city hall project which includes office space, a public TV studio, much like this, art gallery and the council chambers is in there.
Ted Simons: Sure.
Diane Brossart: I had the pleasure -- they have a walkway there and I was at an outdoor meeting in the middle of the summer and you feel a breeze in the breezeway because they built a microclimate and some of the techniques in the buildings that they’ve instituted have really made a difference.
Ted Simons: And overall development in Downtown Chandler was recognized. They're doing things out there.
Diane Brossart: They really are. I was proud of Chandler. They have got a couple of Crescordias. Their downtown redevelopement where they’re creating a walkable, viable, vibrant city.
Ted Simons: Now we’ve moving over to Scottsdale here, because the bridge gets a lot of conversation going. The Soleri bridge and the plaza was recognized too.
Lori Singleton: Yes, absolutely it was. It received two Crescordias in fact. One of the interesting things about this is there are two 60-foot pylons and they're tilted back from the bridge structure at a 10-degree angle and set exactly six inches apart for marking the precise times of the solstice each year. We'll have to be sure and be out there on the solstice. And another thing that's very interesting about this project, it was designed by Paulo Soleri and while he’s been designing bridges for 60 years this was the first one that was commissioned and completed and he's actually 91 years old.
Ted Simons: Indeed.
Diane Brossart: He was at the grand opening for that project which Lori and I attended in the city of Scottsdale.
Ted Simons: It's good to see something he designed find fruition. White Tank Branch Library. A library. This thing is out in the desert, really kind of by itself.
Diane Brossart: It's kind of out there, but it's a magnificent building. Not only architecturally it’s beautiful but it has a number of sustainable design features-energy efficiency, water conservation, passive solar, even the bases and drywall filters infiltrate 100 percent of the storm water back into the ground- it's beautiful. Makes me want to go out there. That's the thing about these projects and going to the awards program, really inspiring.
Ted Simons: And for those who just want to look for any excuse to go to Ikea, apparently, they were winners as well.
Lori Singleton: Yes they are. They are a great corporate citizen, as you think about all of the things they're doing at their facility in Tempe. They were actually the third Ikea project out of eight. Today there are eight completed solar projects and you can see the solar on the rooftop here. The solar helps to offset their energy usage at the facility and that's a pretty large array covering most of the rooftop. Some of the other things that Ikea does at the story is really encourage recycling and they allow ways for the community to bring in their bags and their bottles and their cans and their light bulbs to help recycle them and there's also a kiosk at the store that shows what the solar energy and how much it's producing because you can't see it when you're walking into the store.
Ted Simons: Sure. There are so many winners and we don't have enough time to get to all of them. It strikes me that last year, it seems like there were a lot of things going on and you kind of wonder, ”What's going to happen next year? Will there be enough next year?” Does it surprise you sometimes that every year there's this much going on in the valley?
Diane Brossart: Not so surprised because I'm 20 years now at Valley Forward, but I'm always impressed by the difference in the projects and the uniqueness of them and the various different categories, the many project participants, that' is always inspiring to see.
Ted Simons: And U-Haul was recognized there and again, Ikea recognized and Macy's was recognized during the awards ceremony. Does that surprise you to see some of the bigger businesses getting on board?
Lori Singleton: Actually, it did. It was the first year that we'd seen so many of these businesses take away the top awards and a lot of times it's the cities and the municipalities but this year we really did see a tremendous effort by these businesses that are all looking at sustainability as they think about running their business every day.
Ted Simons: And for next year, we’ll probably see something like the footbridge over Tempe Town Lake, that seems like it's a nice looking thing. But it's got to be environmentally sensitive.
Diane Brossart: The projects are evaluated on their environmental qualities, yes.
Ted Simons: So it’s architecture and sensitivity.
Diane Brossart: Correct. I like that you're thinking ahead. You’re looking at the valley now and you’re about these. This is good.
Ted Simons: I am. I’m trying to be a forward thinker.
Diane Brossart: So we're doing our job.
Ted Simons: Yes. Alright, so next year we'll try to get you back with some more but it was really fascinating, it is inspiring to see. People look at the valley- Arizona has its problems and goodness knows we talk about them on the program but it's nice to see some good things happening out here.
Diane Brossart: We had 600 people come to the banquet.
Ted Simons: I heard that the host did a particularly fantastic job.
Dana Wolfe Naimark: We would like to invite him back next year.
Ted Simons: Really? I’ll see if I can contact him. Good to have you both here. Thank you so much and congratulations again on a wonderful ceremony.