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written by Dan Goldberg
HIV MILESTONE — New York City reported 2,718 new HIV diagnoses in 2014, the lowest number ever recorded. City health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett announced the milestone during a celebration of World AIDS Day at the Apollo Theater in Manhattan. The number represents a 35-percent decline from 2004, and a 9-percent drop from 2012. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released a plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York State by 2020. That requires reducing the number of new cases reported throughout the state to fewer than 750 per year, the number considered an epidemic. In 2013, the state reported 2,925 new HIV diagnoses, a 2-percent decline from 2012. That means the state needs to reduce the number of new diagnoses by about 75 percent by 2020 to reach its goal. Read my story here: http://politi.co/1QcmmsA
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S 5-YEAR PLAN — The White House has a five-year plan for fighting HIV. The plan, according to POLITICO, stresses expanded HIV testing and linkage to care, improved viral suppression, and greater access to preventive treatment called pre-exposure prophylaxis. The plan: http://1.usa.gov/1jxdLnf
WE COULD STILL LOSE WAR ON AIDS — Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and former NYC health commissioner, published an essay Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, which explains why HIV/AIDS advocates should be alarmed. “[M]ost people living with HIV infection in the United States are not receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART); notification of partners of infected people remains the exception rather than the norm; and several high-risk behaviors have become more common. Anal sex without a condom has become more common among gay and bisexual men and there appears to be an increased number of people sharing needles and other injection paraphernalia.” http://bit.ly/1RkR7wk
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DOCTORS’ SECOND OPINION — The Medical Society of the State of New York is again asking state officials to examine why EmblemHealth chose not to renew contracts with 750 independent physicians. Karen Ignagni, CEO of EmblemHealth, said the move was made to bolster the insurer's value-based business and move away from fee-for-service doctors. But that did little to satisfy the MSSNY, an advocacy group representing physicians. “Frankly, other than general platitudes regarding Emblem’s efforts to more readily advance value-based payments, it has not provided any greater clarity to the questions many physicians have asked about the rationale for Emblem’s decision,” MSSNY complained in a letter to Troy Oechsner, executive deputy superintendent for the state’s Department of Financial Services. “Instead, we believe it confirms our suspicion that the motivation for dropping these physicians is really about arbitrarily narrowing the physician network.” Read MSSNY's letter here: http://politi.co/1lW5E5E
NOW WE KNOW — A report in HortScience explains what we’re doing wrong with our tomatoes, and why they don’t smell as tomato-y as they once did. "Storage of (tomato) fruit in a refrigerator or a short blanching for sanitation substantially … reduced key tomato aroma contributors," the authors said. In case you’re wondering, lower temperatures had a bigger impact than hot water blanching. http://bit.ly/1Qczpdt
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NO ZADROGA DEAL YET — Congress is set to move on a massive transportation infrastructure deal, but the bill won't renew health care funding for 9/11 first responders. The package would provide about $300 billion for federal transportation programs and would outline transportation spending policy over the next five years. Rep. King said he remains confident that Congress will renew the Zadroga Act, the legislation that provides for 9/11 first responders.
MAKING ROUNDS — EmblemHealth will announce today that Andrew Rein has been appointed to the newly created position of senior vice president of strategy and business development. He will report directly to CEO Karen Ignagni, who has made a number of new appointments since she began her just a few months ago. It has been 14 months since Rein took a job as senior vice president of Strategy and System Transformation for the NYU Lutheran system. Before that, he was the associate director for policy at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He also served as an executive deputy commissioner at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, senior policy advisor to the Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education, associate director of the New York City Independent Budget Office, and associate research director at the non-profit Citizens Budget Commission.
ACROSS THE RIVER: The nonprofit arm of California hospital chain Prime Healthcare Services entered into an agreement Tuesday to acquire Memorial Hospital of Salem County. It’s an interesting twist to Prime’s presence in New Jersey. Over the past few years, the for-profit entity, Prime Healthcare Services, has acquired two nonprofit Catholic hospitals in the state and turned them into for-profit hospitals: St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic and Saint Clare’s Health System, which has hospitals in Dover, Denville and Boonton. http://politi.co/1QcpoNs
PHARMA REPORT: A bipartisan Senate probe found Gilead was more interested in profits than patients when it priced its Hepatitis C drugs. The 18-month investigation from Sens. Ron Wyden and Chuck Grassley found Gilead spent eight months determining the price of the drug, taking into consideration how high it could set the price without risking public outrage, media attention and congressional inquiries. Read the 1,949 page report here: http://1.usa.gov/1l50hAM.
...Gilead respectfully disagreed: http://reut.rs/1QcB3M7
...Worth remembering that Gilead is a for-profit company that has a legal responsibility to maximize profits for its shareholders.
WHAT WE’RE READING:
-LIFE INSURANCE FOR HIV — Kaiser Health News reports: “Prudential Financial Inc., one of the nation’s largest life insurers, plans to announce this week that it will offer traditional individual policies to eligible people living with HIV, a condition that for decades has excluded most of them from any but the skimpiest of coverage, company officials said. It is the first such offering to be publicly announced by a major American insurer, and it signals a growing recognition that HIV/AIDS has evolved from a death sentence into a chronic but manageable disease, HIV advocates and insurance agents said. The coverage, in the form of convertible 10- or 15-year term life insurance policies, will be available to people who are HIV-positive but otherwise healthy, according to the insurer.” http://bit.ly/1QcpHrA
-ICD 10: SO FAR SO GOOD — Four out of five health care organizations say the transition to ICD-10 has been a success, according to a KPMG survey. The audit and tax advisory firm polled nearly 300 attendees at an early November webcast, POLITICO reported. Some 28 percent said the switchover to ICD-10 had been smooth and 51 percent reported "a few technical issues, but overall successful." Eleven percent described the transition as a "failure to operate." The release: http://prn.to/1PWva7f
TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the state’s health department: “41 percent of high school students didn't use a condom the last time they had sex. Talk to teens. Help end AIDS.”
-RACIAL DISPARITIES — White patients receive more pain medication from emergency room physicians than black patients, according to a study in the journal Medical Care, which was reported on by the New York Times. “White and black patients reported severe pain with the same frequency — about 59 percent. But after controlling for age, insurance status, income, degree of pain and other variables, the researchers found that compared with non-Hispanic white people, non-Hispanic blacks and other minorities were 22 percent to 30 percent less likely to receive pain medication. Patients were also less likely to receive pain medicine if they were over 75 or male, lacked private insurance or were treated at a hospital with numerous minority patients.” http://nyti.ms/1RkRnv2
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