Phoenix Children’s Hospital Partners with ASU for Virtual Implantation of Artificial Heart

B3 Strategies’ client, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, partnered with Arizona State University to perform the first-ever virtual implantation of the Total Artificial Heart. The team used technology that creates 3-D reconstructions of internal structures in order to virtually screen pediatric patients to ensure a proper fit of the artificial heart.

For more information, please read the article by Rosie Gochnour and Joe Kullman in ASU News.

Making Headway with the Oral Parity Bill

By Russell Smoldon

HB2078, or the Oral Parity Bill, is currently awaiting a vote by the Arizona State Senate. Sponsored by Representative Heather Carter, HB2078 provides equal coverage, deductible, and coinsurance amounts for the same cancer treatment medication whether it is administered orally, self-injected, or administered intravenously by a health care professional. Currently, cancer treatment medication that is self-administered is often covered by prescription drug-benefits rather than medical plans, which would cover more of the costs. A coalition of 30 different health organizations, led by the Arizona Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and coordinated by B3 Strategies through Celgene, is leading the efforts to ensure the legislation is passed. For more information, please read the article by Ken Alltucker with the Arizona Republic, which addresses more of the details of HB2078 and the people it aims to help.

 

Celebrating S. 1557 and Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education

By Russell Smoldon

Last week the President signed S. 1557 – Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education Support Reauthorization Act (CHGME) into law after it was successfully passed in the House earlier this month. S. 1557 was passed by the Senate without amendment by unanimous consent in November of 2013.

CHGME was originally passed by Congress in 1999 because independent children’s hospitals, like Phoenix Children’s Hospital, were essentially left out of the Medicare GME, creating a gap in the training of pediatric providers. CHGME hospitals now train 49% of all pediatricians, up from 30% when the program was first enacted.

Children’s teaching hospitals care for the most severely ill children in any hospital setting. Having adequate funds to prepare doctors to care for pediatric patients allows children’s hospitals to better serve the children they care for.

The CHGME program is structured similarly to GME support through Medicare. CHGME hospitals receive support for both direct (DGME) and indirect (IME) medical education costs. Indirect costs are handled just as much by the children’s hospitals as their Medicare GME counterparts. The CHGME program provides GME to graduates of medical school, enhances research capabilities, and improves the care of vulnerable and underserved children at participating hospitals. Eligible hospitals apply each year to receive funding. Hospitals are eligible if they are a freestanding children’s teaching hospital with an approved GME, have a Medicare Provider Agreement, and are excluded from Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System.

Had S. 1557 failed to become law, the IME portion of CHGME payments would have been eliminated. Handling pediatric patients requires higher patient care costs for special services and unique training. Losing the IME portion of the CHGME would have had a major negative impact on children’s hospitals’ ability to meet pediatric workforce needs. Additionally, losing IME funding would have created a double standard, as Medicare GME recognizes these types of indirect costs that occur in adult hospitals, including the training of pediatric residents at that type of institution.

Today, we can celebrate S. 1557 and the continuation of programs that help train medical professionals focused on pediatric care. Phoenix Children’s Hospital is one of only fifty-four United States hospitals that participate in the CHGME program, making its success incredibly important to our community and our State. Children are not just small adults, and their unique physiology requires unique care. The commitment of our Congressional delegation along with the Administration will allow Phoenix Children’s Hospital to continue to train and prepare extraordinary physicians to care for children across the country. We wish to thank our delegation for their bipartisan effort on behalf of the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and their patients and their families.

If you have questions or would like more information about CHGME and how it affects Arizona, please feel free to contact me.

Wildfire Prevention: From West to East

Arizona faces a recurring threat each year as temperatures rise and the threat of wildfires grows. To combat this threat, Arizona is embarking on the largest stewardship contract in the country, the Four Forest Restoration, or 4FRI. As a part of 4FRI, small diameter trees are thinned to reduce the risk of forest fires. However, 4FRI focuses only on the western part of the forests, specifically the Kaibab, Coconino, Apache-Sitgreaves, and Tonto forests. In order to protect all of Arizona, it will be necessary to strive to prevent wildfires in all of Arizona’s forests. Yet, the drastically increasing costs of wildfire suppression are straining federal budgets and have caused wildfire prevention techniques to lose funding. Healthy forest restoration efforts, like 4FRI, help preserve forests while mitigating the damages of even the most severe forest fires.

The importance of funding for wildfire suppression is a topic that is being discussed by members of both parties across the country. In a letter to Senator Ron Wyden (D) of Oregon, Senator John McCain ( R) and Senator Jeff Flake ( R), both of Arizona, identify a crucial need that arises in S. 1875, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2013.

S. 1875 answers an important demand by increasing funding for wildfire suppression by circumventing the budget caps to give the Forest Service and DOI new budget authority to pay the increased cost of fighting wildfires. In their letter, Senator McCain and Senator Flake note that:

This dramatic step of adjusting budget-control measures would be accomplished without targeting the heart of the fire borrowing problem; namely, the Administration’s failure to use an accurate formula to request fire suppression funding.

They continue by noting that the current budget is built upon a 10-year average of suppression costs. Drastically increased costs of suppression have invalidated the 10-year averages that the plans are based upon. Senator McCain and Senator Flake note that S.1875 establishes a “budget windfall” by moving previously allocated funds outside of the Forest Service’s budget caps.

The difficulty that Senator McCain and Senator Flake identify lies with S.1875’s focus on “off-budget adjustments,” rather than prioritizing fire prevention and suppression and creating an accurate budget to build upon.

Wildfire prevention is one of the most crucial steps in protecting Arizona’s people and land from devastating fires. 4FRI, and previously the White Mountain Stewardship Contract, have made a powerful start in wildfire prevention have created jobs through a growing forest product industry.

It is the responsibility of every Arizonan to maintain focus on S.1875 and the dangers of neglecting wildfire prevention. Through Stewardship Contracts Arizona has made an unprecedented commitment to the health and safety of our forests. With an administration that has cut the Forest Service’s hazardous fuel reduction spending and DOI funding, we cannot allow for wildfire prevention to also fall by the way side. By showing support for continued funding for wildfire prevention we may be able to gather funding to use the thinning techniques that have worked so well on the Western part of the forests to protect the Eastern forests as well.

Senator McCain and Senator Flake have contributed great leadership on behalf of Arizona. It is our duty as Arizonans to show our support for the protection of our forests.

If you have questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this article, please feel free to contact me.

The Oral Parity of Cancer Treatment Drugs

B3 Strategies CEO, Russell Smoldon, discusses a new piece of legislation he is working on at the Arizona Legislature. The legislation centers around fair access to cancer treatment drugs for cancer patients, specifically orally administered drugs. The FACT Coalition is comprised of the Arizona Leukemia Lymphoma Society, the Arizona Cancer Society, doctors groups, nurses groups and hospitals; all uniting to forward technology associated with the oral parity of cancer treatment drugs.

Electricity Deregulation Faces Legal Challenges

Regulators revisited the deregulation of electricity recently and concluded that deregulation, or electric competition, continues to face legal challenges from the previous attempt to open electric markets. Consequently, the commissioners pulled the plug on deregulation, closing the docket with a 4-1 vote and cancelling any future meetings. Chairman Bob Stump stated,

“the Constitutional impediments are simply too great with regard to electric retail competition in the state.”

Proponents of retail competition in Arizona, who may be disappointed by this decision, include large service providers that offer electricity to customers in deregulated states, utility companies hoping to expand their business in Arizona, and large electric users such as mines and retail chains that hoped a competitive market would provide them with better electricity policies. It seems now, the only hope for deregulation in the future would be to amend the Arizona Constitution either through referendum or initiative. We may see action on this issue in the upcoming legislative session. For now, however, the issue has been shelved.

Be sure to check back to the B3 Strategies blog for new developments and the latest legislative updates.

B3 Strategies Government Relations and Public Affairs Firm Launches in Phoenix

PHOENIX, Ariz. (July 22, 2013) – Jennings, Strouss & Salmon announces the formation of B3 Strategies, a full-service government relations and public affairs firm. Positioned as “The Public Policy Architects,” B3 Strategies will provide clients with the development and implementation of public policy strategy at the local, state, and federal levels.

“Jennings, Strouss & Salmon has a long and distinguished history of public policy representation,” stated J. Scott Rhodes, the firm’s Managing Attorney. “We are excited about extending our ability to assist clients with all kinds of legislative and public policy concerns through B3 Strategies.”

B3 Strategies Chief Executive Officer, Russell D.Smoldon, has over 30 years of public policy experience focused on energy, water, taxation, environmental, health care and economic development issues. The relationships he has with government officials, legislators and the business community in Arizona, across the country and at the federal level in Washington, D.C. are extensive.

A former legislative assistant to Congressman Thomas S. Foley, Smoldon has been involved with nearly every public policy issue affecting Arizona over the past 25 years in his role as Manager of Government Relations with Salt River Project (SRP) in Phoenix, Arizona. Prior to joining SRP, he served as the government relations representative for Idaho and Montana with Spokane, Washington-based Avista Corporation.

As a respected leader in the Phoenix business community, Smoldon serves on the board of the Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA), the Western Business Roundtable, the Greater Phoenix Urban League, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Conference of State Legislators’ Advisory Council on Energy and National Tax Partnership. He has assisted numerous non-profit organizations, including the Arizona Trails Association, and serves as a member of the Arizona Supreme Court’s Child Support Guidelines and Domestic Relations Committees and the Arizona Highway Users’ Association.

Smoldon received a B.S. in Political Science and History from Gonzaga University. While attending Gonzaga University School of Law, he left to accept the position with Avista, becoming the youngest utility lobbyist in the country at the time. Smoldon also completed a number of post-graduate courses in Theory and Political Science at Eastern Washington University before being recruited by SRP and moving to Arizona.

The vast government relations and public affairs experience Smoldon brings to B3 Strategies, united with the legal prowess of Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, provides clients with the knowledge and tools needed to present, support and implement public policy that addresses the issues affecting their businesses. Both firms assist clients in a multitude of industries, providing a wide-range of legal and lobbying services. In addition, Jennings, Strouss & Salmon’s office in Washington, D.C. will enable B3 Strategies to address federal issues at the nation’s capitol.

“I am very excited to be leading B3 Strategies,” stated Smoldon. “I’ve had a successful career managing government affairs at the corporate level and now look forward to being involved with public policy issues on a grander scale. Being affiliated with Jennings Strouss enables me to expand beyond policy issues focused on utilities. I look forward to utilizing my experience to represent a wide-range of industries at the local and state level, as well as having an impact on the national policy arena.”

About B3 Strategies

“Building Public Policy Brick-By-Brick”

Positioned as “The Public Policy Architects,” B3 Strategies, an affiliate of Jennings, Strouss & Salmon law firm, provides clients with the knowledge and tools needed to present, support and implement public policy to address issues affecting their businesses. B3 Strategies leverages relationships with an extensive network of government officials, legislators and the business community to develop and implement public policy strategies at the local state, and federal levels for a wide-range of industries, including those focused on energy, water, taxation, environmental, health care and economic development issues.

For additional information please visit www.B3strategies.com, and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

About Jennings, Strouss & Salmon

Jennings Strouss & Salmon is one of the Southwest’s leading law firms, providing business, litigation and regulatory legal counsel for over 70 years through its offices in Phoenix and Peoria, and Yuma, Arizona; and Washington, D.C. For additional information please visit www.jsslaw.com and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

~JSS~

What is B3 Strategies?

public policy and lobbying

Russell Smoldon CEO B3 Strategies

Today, B3 Strategies has officially launched and we will be providing lobbying services at the local, state, and federal level. I can’t tell you how excited and eager I am to get to work. Whether it be working with current clients or creating relationships with new clients, I look forward to assisting you with any and all of your complex public policy needs.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am Russell Smoldon. I have lived in the Valley for almost 26 years, spending most of my time working for the Salt River Project (SRP). Over the past 25 years at SRP, I was involved in nearly every public policy issue facing Arizona. With this experience, I decided to form B3 Strategies, an affiliate of Jennings, Strouss & Salmon Law Firm.

Jennings, Strouss & Salmon has a great reputation throughout the legal community and I am thrilled to be here. Since beginning at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, we have created a government relations department and now, with the launching of B3 Strategies, it will only grow stronger. Whatever the public policy issue may be, we have the resources to assist you.

As I mentioned earlier, I have spent a long time working in Arizona public policy. However, my experience does not stop there. I also have immense contacts at the federal level. In fact, I just returned from Washington, D.C. where I have been working to re-establish the State Society of Arizona. This was a great opportunity to meet with our delegation and their staff in a more informal setting.

While I have had great success on the business side of public policy, I also stay heavily involved in my community by serving on many boards and commissions. From my wide range of experiences, I have garnered a wealth of contacts both in the business and non-profit world.

The creation of B3 Strategies has been extremely rewarding. With this newly formed company, I hope to mix the seriousness of public policy with the fun of politics. B3 stands for Brick-By-Brick, and I look forward to building your public policy one brick at a time.

Arizona Lawmakers Change State Tax Code to Benefit Data Centers

Arizona lawmakers recently changed the state’s tax code to allow tax benefits for data centers. These tax benefits will aid in Arizona’s economic development, while simultaneously strengthening Arizona’s existing economy.

Arizona lawmakers create tax benefits for data centers

“This is a huge win for the state of Arizona,” stated Russell Smoldon, CEO of B3 strategies. “With the new tax incentives we will see more and more data centers locating to Arizona, thus boosting our economy.”

In order to qualify for the tax benefits, data centers that are new to the state must invest $50 million in urban areas or $25 million in rural areas.

Companies with data centers already in the state will also qualify for the tax benefits if they have invested $250 million or more over the past six years.

The data center bill was moved along with the help of legislators and companies such as B3 Strategies and the Arizona Data Center Coalition. Both groups continually strive to strengthen Arizona through strong public policy.

“B3 Strategies originally partnered with the Arizona Data Center Coalition back in September with the hopes of strengthening the Arizona economy. Now just nine months later, we have succeeded in that goal,” stated Smoldon.

B3 Strategies was created in order to develop and implement public policy strategy at the local, state and federal level. Some of the clients that stand to benefit from the tax breaks are data centers such as Microsoft, e-Bay, Digital Reality Trust, Cyrus One, Phoenix NAP and Nextfort. The new tax benefits are set to take effect on August 31, 2013.