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POLITICO New York Health Care: Sodium stakes; Albany outlines in 2016

written by Dan Goldberg and Josefa Velasquez

WELCOME BACK — Hope everyone had a happy New Year. I’ll be up in Albany next week and, as always, would love to meet with readers. Email me at if you’d like to set something up.

SODIUM STAKES — Later this month, a judge will consider whether New York City’s requirement that chain restaurants post warnings on salty foods is a legitimate effort to protect public health or a regulatory overreach.

...If the board loses this case, which the judge will begin considering on Jan. 19, the activist role it has played in the city’s public health firmament for two centuries could be permanently diminished. And because the New York City health authorities have so regularly provided a model for action elsewhere, a setback here could reverberate around the country.

SHARE ME: Like this newsletter? Please tell a friend to sign up. Give them this link:

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

COMING IN 2016 — The legislative session is set to begin Wednesday and POLITICO New York’s Josefa Velasquez previews what’s on the agenda for the Assembly and Senate health committees. First up, the senators will look at how and why Health Republic Insurance of New York collapsed and what lessons can be learned from its demise.

NOW WE KNOW — Keeping secrets can be bad for your health. “We know when people have a traumatic experience and they don’t talk to other people about it, they are at greater risk for a variety of health problems,” said James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Keeping a secret rather than discussing it can cause high blood pressure, immune issues, more frequent colds and higher rates or progression of cancer.

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

CUOMO’S HOMELESS PLAN — Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order Sunday morning requiring the state to move all homeless people living on the street into shelters during inclement weather or when the temperatures fall below freezing.

MAZEL TOV — Vireo Health, one of the five companies awarded a license to grow and sell medical marijuana in New York, has had its marijuana certified as kosher. The company, formerly Empire State Health Solutions, announced Wednesday that its products were certified by the Orthodox Union.

...Marijuana is a plant and does not need kosher certification as all plants are kosher. The Orthodox Union, which gave the seal of approval and which, of course, makes a tidy sum for doing so, told the Associated Press that it inspected Vireo’s facility to ensure there were no insects on the plant. What a country!

ON FLANAGAN’S MIND — If Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan gets the opportunity to enact just one piece of legislation in 2016, it wouldn’t be on a Republican cornerstone issue. Instead, he says he would work to increase organ donations throughout the state. POLITICO New York’s Josefa Velasquez has more:

AD CAMPAIGN — If, like me, you were watching the Jets blow their playoff chances on Sunday, you probably saw a new ad from Northwell Health, the renamed North Shore-LIJ. The ad featured Northwell’s first 2016 delivery at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens. The “Happy Birthday” ad is Northwell’s first brand campaign in five years and the biggest marketing push in the 25-year history of the 21-hospital health system.


-WHAT TO WATCH IN 2016 — The Washington Post has come up with a list of to health issues to look for this year. Runaway drug prices, along with “post-Ebola syndrome” top their list. Read more here:

-OFF-PUTTING JARGON — ”Enrollment season rolls on, and people shopping on and the other marketplaces have until Jan. 31 to decide on a plan. But even people trying to pick from their employers' options can find the process complicated and difficult to understand.”

-WHAT WAS LEARNED — Charles Ornstein, for ProPublica, explains what he learned in 2015 while covering patient privacy.

-LASER HAIR REMOVAL FIGHT — A bitter, four-year fight between medical doctors and a national accrediting organization over the use of lasers for hair removal is closer to a resolution after a Tallahassee appellate court on Thursday upheld a Board of Medicine “declaratory statement” that medical electrologists don’t require recertification.

-FINES MORE AFFORDABLE THAN INSURANCE — From the New York Times: “Clint Murphy let the deadline for getting health insurance by the new year pass without a second thought. Murphy, an engineer in Sulphur Springs, Tex., estimates that under the Affordable Care Act, he will face a fine of $1,800 for going uninsured in 2016. But in his view, paying that penalty is worth it if he can avoid buying an insurance policy that costs $2,900 or more. All he has to do is stay healthy.”

-KEEPING THE FAITH — The Wall Street Journal has a trend piece which says people are turning to health-care ministries to cover their medical expenses instead of buying traditional insurance.

-THE FUTURE OF THE STETHOSCOPE — The Washington Post asks whether the ubiquitous stethoscope is set for rebirth or has come to the end of its useful life.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from Crouse Hospital. If you want to ensure that you keep up with your resolution of getting fit, make sure you have the right shoes.


-AFTER NONFATAL OVERDOSE, MORE OPIOIDS PRESCRIBED — Patients with chronic pain who are hospitalized after an opioid overdose still receive prescriptions to opioids, a study by Boston Medical Center found.

-HOME BIRTHS — A study in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed 80,000 pregnancies and found that the probability of the baby dying during the birthing process or in the first month was 2.4 times as likely for women who had out-of-hospital deliveries than those who planned hospital deliveries.

GOT SOMETHING TO SAY? We're happy to listen … and so are our influential readers! Email us at and we'll clue you in on messaging options in our newsletters and on POLITICO New York’s web and mobile sites. We'll craft a program tailored to your voice.

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 12/24, 12/23, 12/22, 12/21, 12/18

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