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POLITICO New York Health Care: Roadmap unveiled; Silver to the jury

Dear readers: POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it at that time, along with a customized real-time news feed of New York health care policy news throughout the day, please contact us at and we'll set you up for trial access.

written by Dan Goldberg

HOUSEKEEPING — POLITICO New York is off Thursday and Friday. The newsletter will be back in your inbox Monday morning. Happy Thanksgiving!

UNVEILING THE MENTAL HEALTH ROADMAP — During a lengthy and emotional press conference on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, unveiled the city's mental health roadmap, a mix of new policies, increased funding and aspirational goals that, if successfully implemented, will represent a radical change in how New York City diagnoses and responds to mental illness. The roadmap, which McCray spearheaded, was announced in January. During the past year, she met with dozens of advocates and department heads to produce a document that offers 54 initiatives and proposals. Most of them already have been announced but there are a handful of new programs and a commitment of $305 million in new money over the next four years. The majority of that — $223 million — will go to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Read my story here:

...Speaking of mental health, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing for a Mental Health Tax Check Off. This puts mental health donations in the same category as donations made to Breast Cancer and Alzheimer’s.

INVESTIGATING THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT — DNAinfo has a good story on how the push “to establish community health managers in city housing projects came to an abrupt end last month — just a year after the Health Department handed a three-year contract to Mario Drummonds, the executive director of the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership in Harlem. ...In addition to concerns about meeting targets on the number of residents who were getting assistance, sources said Drummonds ran the nonprofit as his personal fiefdom that he ruled with an iron fist.” One female staffer filed a police report alleging that Drummonds had threatened to “cut, f--k and destroy you” if she tried to undermine him. Read more here:

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AND MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW Josefa and me on Twitter @J__Velasquez & @DanCGoldberg. And for all New Jersey health news, check out @katiedjennings

THE FATE OF SILVER — The fate of Sheldon Silver is now in the hands of a dozen jurors who have spent the last three weeks listening to competing versions of how the former Assembly speaker wielded power for the last decade: with secretive calculations to enrich himself, or with the same quirks, favor-trading and inherent conflicts that is irrevocably baked into the state government. Silver's defense rests on a strict reading of the federal honest services and extortion statutes, which prosecutors say he violated on seven counts as part of two schemes. The first scheme alleges Silver traded state research grants for a cancer researcher, Robert Taub, who passed along the names of mesothelioma patients. Silver referred the names to Weitz & Luxenberg, a plaintiff's firm where he was of counsel, where other attorneys often secured seven-figure judgments and settlements and gave Silver a cut. The second scheme alleges Silver urged major real estate developers, including Glenwood Management, the state's sveltest political donor, to hire Goldberg & Iryami for tax certiorari work. No one disclosed that Silver was getting a cut of the business.

NOW WE KNOW — Danish cannabis is stronger than ever. That’s because the THC content has tripled over 20 years, according to the Danish Health and Medicines Authority's annual narcotics report.

WE'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU: This roundup is for you, so please tell us how we can make it even better. Send tips, news, ideas, calendar items, releases, promotions, job postings, birthdays, congratulations, criticisms and corrections to

ENDING DISPARITIES — Reuters reports on a New York City health department effort to increase colon cancer screenings. “[B]y 2014 there were no longer difference in screening rates by race or ethnicity. ‘Nationally colon cancer screening rates have been increasing and mortality has been decreasing, but the overall decline in mortality is not equal by race,’ said Lina Jandorf of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.”

THE BLUES — Crain’s reports that Empire BlueCross BlueShield HealthPlus has pulled out of the Fully Integrated Dual Advantage program, the fifth insurer to do so.

CO-OPS COSTLY FAILURE — POLITICO reports the failures among nonprofit co-op health plans are taking a toll on K Street. “Expect new termination filings soon from Alston & Bird, which lobbied for Health Republic Insurance of New York; Thorn Run Partners, which represented Colorado HealthOP; and MJ Capitol Consulting, working for Consumer Mutual Insurance of Michigan.”

HOW TO READ A MAP — Do you understand the state’s Value Based Payment Roadmap? The United Hospital Fund is here to help with a guide for providers and patients that explains what changes are in the works and what they mean. See more here:

COMING SOON — Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Services will open a nonprofit pharmacy at Hometown Health Centers’ State Street clinic, providing on-site availability of prescription drugs for patients, according to the Albany Times-Union.

GRANT LAND — The Syracuse Post-Standard reports: “Upstate Medical University is receiving $12 million from the U.S. Army to help develop a vaccine against dengue fever, a rapidly-spreading mosquito-borne virus that affects about 40 percent of the world's population.”

HANYS AWARDS — The Healthcare Association of New York State published profiles of its Pinnacle Award nominees, including 112 examples of how hospitals and health systems are improving patient safety and quality. See it here: here.

ACROSS THE RIVER: Sen. Robert Menendez and Sen. Cory Booker joined other elected officials on Monday to demand that Congress reauthorize the 2010 Zadroga Act, which provides compensation for first responders who became ill after the terror attacks of 9/11.

PHARMA REPORT — Ed Silverman, writes about some new research that looked at what would have happened had the 21st Century Cures Act been around five years ago. “To test the notion, a group of researchers at the National Center for Health Research, a think tank in Washington, D.C., examined three Alzheimer’s drugs that, over the past five years, failed in late-stage, or Phase 3, trials. Their goal was to gauge what might have happened had the medicines been approved based on the mid-stage, or Phase 2 studies. Their results are disconcerting. They noted that all three drugs — semagacestat, bapineuzumab, and latrepirdine — had shown promise during Phase 2 trials and generated considerable excitement, particularly on Wall Street. But subsequent late-stage trials revealed a lack of effectiveness and potential for patient harm, according to their paper, which was published in BMJ. As a result, the drugs never made it to market.”


-FOLLOW THE MONEY — The Kaiser Health Foundation looks at what happened to the more than $5 billion Congress appropriated for Ebola funding. The truth is it’s hard to say. “Spending reports to date indicate a significant amount remains for ongoing and future activities. … Data are also not available to indicate what share of this funding is part of the emergency Ebola appropriation and what is from other funding lines. It is also unclear how much will be directed to longer-term rebuilding and health systems strengthening activities, and exactly what form those activities take.”

-INVERSION BASHING — Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton condemned Pfizer’s move to lower its tax bill by buying Allergan and becoming an “Irish” company. In a statement, Clinton said that "for too long, powerful corporations have exploited loopholes that allow them to hide earnings abroad to lower their taxes. Now Pfizer is trying to reduce its tax bill even further." She promised to unveil proposals to deal with corporate inversions. Sanders called on the Obama administration to block the merger and for Congress to pass tax reform. "The Pfizer-Allergan merger would be a disaster for American consumers who already pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs," he said.

...The White House got in on the act, too. Press secretary Josh Earnest said the strategy "essentially allows [companies] to renounce their citizenship, while continuing to benefit from all that America has to offer. … It may serve the corporate bottom line of some of these companies, but it certainly doesn't strengthen the economy of the United States and it certainly doesn't enhance the prospects of middle class families in this country.”

-KNOWING WHAT WE DON’T KNOW — Austin Frakt, writing for The Incidental Economist says it’s bad enough that only a small fraction of individuals with substance use disorder treatments can access and receive treatment. What is worse, he says, is that we “know less than we might about how they respond to a variety of medical treatments because they are routinely excluded from clinical trials.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from Jamaica Hospital, which offers “six home remedies besides cranberry juice for UTI relief. “


-SELF EXAM — Patients may be able to head home instead of an acute care facility after major cardiac, joint and spine surgery, according to findings of a self-examining study from NYU Langone Medical Center. The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, looks at Langone’s participation in a Bundled Payment option. Langone doctors began sending more patients home as opposed to nursing facilities and found no corresponding increase in readmission rates.

-GENES AND THE PLACEBO EFFECT — Maybe genetics is the reason some people are more prone to the placebo effect. An article in Trends in Molecular Medicine explains that certain signaling pathways in the brain — especially the dopamine, opioid, endocannabinoid, and serotonin pathways — help mediate the placebo effect. Scientists then looked to see whether genetic variations in these pathways can modify the placebo effect. The article also discusses some ethical issues that arise. If high placebo responders are not included in future clinical trials, how will the drugs be labeled, and which patients will be approved for treatment in light of the fact that the drugs will have only been tested in placebo non-responders? Would telling patients they are more likely to respond to a placebo be a good idea? Does it matter?

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 11/23, 11/20, 11/19, 11/18, 11/17

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