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POLITICO New York Health Care: Medical marijuana concerns; DSRIP evaluator

written by Dan Goldberg

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.

STARTING TROUBLE — The state health department plans to launch New York's medical marijuana program on Thursday, even as three of the five companies awarded a license to grow and distribute the drug say they won't have all their dispensaries open on time.

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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

DSRIP EVALUATOR — The state health department is seeking an independent evaluator to monitor the effectiveness of the state's Medicaid reform program, the $6 billion effort aimed at reducing avoidable hospitalizations by 25 percent over five years. The state's request for proposals can be found here:

NOW WE KNOW — Don’t buy the female version. It will cost you. The Washington Post reports: “The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs compared nearly 800 products with female and male versions — meaning they were practically identical except for the gender-specific packaging — and uncovered a persistent surcharge for one of the sexes. Controlling for quality, items marketed to girls and women cost an average 7 percent more than similar products aimed at boys and men.”

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THE ALBANY AGENDA — While the heads of the Legislature’s health committees hope to address big health care issues like the state’s Medicaid program and the collapse of Health Republic of New York, both men also plan to push for their own legislative priorities, addressing a wide variety of issues like the increase in heroin use and reforming the state’s medical marijuana program.

DONE DEAL — Albany Medical Center and Columbia Memorial Hospital on Monday announced the finalization of an affiliation between both hospitals.

BUDGET ASK — Citing Ebola, Legionnaires' disease, heroin, Lyme, West Nile and measles, the New York State Association of County Health Officials is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo for roughly $15.7 million in increased state aid in the upcoming budget, which is expected to be released Jan. 13.

MORE LAYOFFS — POMCO, an Eastwood company that processes claims for Health Republic Insurance of New York, laid off another 35 employees, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. “POMCO said more job cuts related to the shutdown of Health Republic of New York may occur during the first half of the year.”

DON’T DO THAT — Kiyoshi Kimura, an 84-year-old Syracuse psychiatrist accused of selling a prescription to an undercover detective has been barred by the state from practicing medicine, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

ACROSS THE RIVER — The New Jersey Supreme Court will hear a motion next week to stay a controversial law that allows Cooper University Hospital to take over advanced life support services from Virtua Health in Camden.

PHARMA REPORT: Ed Silverman, for Stat, reported that “after less than a year of litigation, Novartis has agreed to pay $8.2 million to settle a proposed collective class action lawsuit filed by more than a dozen female employees who claimed they were denied equal pay and promotional opportunities because of their gender.

-THE BLUES — A generic version of the Nexium heartburn pill will be changed from purple to blue to settle a lawsuit filed by AstraZeneca, which for more than two decades has has capitalized on a marketing campaign that labeled its two widely prescribed heartburn drugs — first, Prilosec and then Nexium — as “the Purple Pill.” Stat has more:

-GILEAD’S LATEST — Gilead Sciences Inc. said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted a priority review of its new hepatitis C drug, which combines Sovaldi with velpatasvir, according to the Wall Street Journal.


-GUNS AND HIPAA — POLITICO reports: “The Obama administration [on Monday] finalized a rule that allows health care providers to share certain information with the FBI's firearms background check system, which was limited before because of HIPAA's privacy rule.”

-WHY YOU’RE GOING HOME — Austin Frakt explains the economics behind hospitals sending patients home sooner than they once did.

-IN CASE YOU MISSED — The New York Times had a fascinating report on backtracking from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over cell phone use. “When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published new guidelines 18 months ago regarding the radiation risk from cell phones, it used unusually bold language on the topic for the American health agency: ‘We recommend caution in cell phone use.’ … Within weeks, though, the C.D.C. reversed course.”

-TIGHTENING THE RULES — The Wall Street Journal reports: “The Food and Drug Administration is tightening regulations for surgical mesh products used to repair a condition known as pelvic organ prolapse, following years of scrutiny by the U.S. regulator and many lawsuits by women who allege they have suffered harm from such products.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from Health + Hospitals, which reminds us, “when using secondhand baby products, always check for damages.”


-OLD VERSUS NEW — Newer blood pressure medications work just as well as older ones, according to research from NYU Langone Medical Center. The researchers found Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) to be just as effective as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which were developed 10 years earlier, despite previous study results to the contrary, according to a press release from Langone.

-CONSEQUENCES — A a lack of sleep can leave the brain vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease. NPR has the details.

-ANTS GO MARCHING — Starvation or an enemy’s attack activates genes in carpenter ants that help the colony survive, according to a study co-authored by NYU Langone researchers and published in the journal Science.

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MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 1/4, 12/24, 12/23, 12/22, 12/21

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