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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bill passes Health Committee

    PHOENIX – The possibility of receiving $25 million for the Phoenix Biomedical Campus and other health programs lured three university presidents, the dean of the UA College of Medicine, medical sector representatives, the ABOR president and Flagstaff’s mayor to a Senate hearing yesterday – so they could make sure their bill passed the Health Committee.

    Senate Bill 1558
    The $25 million would be appropriated as follows from the state general fund for fiscal year 2008:

    ? $5,250,000 for the schematic design of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.
    ? $6,000,000 for the College of Medicine Phoenix program.
    ? $1,500,000 for the College of Pharmacy Phoenix program
    ? $1,000,000 for the telemedicine program.

    ? $2,000,000 for biomedical informatics.
    ? $5,250,000 for the schematic design of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

    ? $4,000,000 to NAU for health professions expansion.

    Senate Bill 1558, sponsored by Sen. Carolyn Allen, R-Scottsdale, would allocate the brunt of the money to the UA, with almost $14 million going to its colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy in Phoenix, to the telemedicine program and the schematic design of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

    A little more than $7 million would go to Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University would receive $4 million.

    All eight speakers hailed the measure, saying it would not only provide necessary funds to fire up the Biomedical Campus, but also is an important step toward alleviating Arizona’s doctor shortage.

    “”I cannot tell you how proud I am to be involved in this and to support this,”” Allen said. “”This funding is for the state of Arizona one of the top priorities that I think we should be looking at.””

    The bill passed the committee unanimously and awaits action on the Senate floor.

    While the Biomedical Campus is expensive to build, dollars are saved because the Arizona’s universities collaborate on it and because the private sector also pitches in to get the project done, said President Robert Shelton at the hearing.

    “”The effort of this collaboration is that we have an opportunity to create a first-rate College of Medicine and even more than that a biomedical research campus in Phoenix, while ensuring that the state is not footing the entire bill,”” Shelton said.

    Shelton said his economic consultants predicted the campus could contribute to Arizona’s economy with as much as $2 billion a year.

    The project not only is a hot topic in Arizona, but “”the envy”” of university officials around the country, said Dr. Keith Joiner, the dean of the UA College of Medicine. But, he said, not only are people adoring the project, but also are watching closely to what happens next and what happens to its funding.

    “”This is a big deal,”” he said. “”The spotlight is on us.””

    The bill fulfills Gov. Janet Napolitano’s wish to fund the project, as is outlined in her executive budget proposal.

    The proposal of the joint legislative budget committee does not include this appropriation.

    Arizona has a “”tremendous”” shortage of doctors, nurses and other health professionals, said David Landrith, the vice president of policy and political affairs at the Arizona Medical Association. Receiving the funding and going forward with the biomedical campus could help alleviate the issue.

    While hospitals try to battle the shortage by adding beds, it becomes obvious that the state needs to educate health care professionals instead of recruiting them from other states or simply not filling positions, said Laurie Lange, vice president of public affairs at the Arizona

    Healthcare and Hospital Association, which also supports the bill.

    “”The expansion is just in my mind the most important single event in the state’s history as far as the health of our citizens,”” said Robert Bulla, Arizona Board of Regents president. “”I don’t know of any other opportunity that would have made the difference this is going to make.””

    Joseph Donaldson, the mayor of Flagstaff, NAU President John Haeger and ASU President Michael Crow also spoke in support of the bill.

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