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POLITICO New York Health Care: NYC paying for the dead; DOH missing out on $95M

Dear readers: POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive an enhanced version of this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it, 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 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.

$95 MILLION ON THE TABLE — An audit conducted by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office found the Department of Health has not collected roughly $95.1 million in rebates from drug makers.

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

HOUSING FOR THE DEAD — New York City helped pay the rent for 23 people who were no longer living in their apartments — or at all — between 2012 and 2015, according to an audit from Comptroller Scott Stringer that was released Thursday morning.

NOW WE KNOW — Warmer weather can put a damper on your sex life, researchers from the University of Central Florida and the University of California, Santa Barbara found.

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

THURSDAY’S BIG NEWS — The Obama administration released recommendations on what people should be eating “walking a tightrope between health and food industry groups,” POLITICO reports.

...Why this is all a little silly: Julia Belluz, writing for, says: “[T]hese guidelines don't necessarily reflect the best science — they are a result of lobbying and political compromises.”

...The Washington Post points out that the message is pretty confusing. “When they tell you what to eat, they speak directly, naming foods that are easy to identify. When they tell you what to avoid, they speak opaquely, referring to nutrients that are hard to grasp.”

DON’T DO THAT — UnitedHealth Group has agreed to pay the state $100,000 and change its business practices after state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman questioned whether one of its ploys was anti-competitive. Read the settlement here:

DESPITE AWKWARD SUBJECT, SAVINO PUSHES ASSISTED SUICIDE — Sen. Diane Savino is pushing legislation that would let doctors prescribe lethal doses of medication to people with terminal illnesses so they may end their own lives.

DE BLASIO SIGNS PARENTAL LEAVE — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday signed an order guaranteeing six weeks of paid parental leave to non-union city employees, giving New York City one of the most generous paid leave policies of any city in the country.

MAKING ROUNDS — As it hits the midpoint of its first term, the de Blasio administration is reshuffling many of the people responsible for communicating the mayor's message to the public. Adding to other moves announced Thursday, Maibe Ponet has been tapped to be a senior communications adviser to health commissioner Mary Bassett.

ALSO MAKING ROUNDS — HRHCare President and CEO Anne Kauffman Nolon has been inducted into the National Association of Community Health Centers Grassroots Advocacy Hall of Fame.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA FACILITIES OPEN —The Guardian reports: “The first dispensary opened its doors in Manhattan’s bustling Union Square, a modest facility run by the Columbia Care medical marijuana company and sandwiched between an urgent care center and a falafel restaurant.”

“...The nondescript building at 402 N. Pearl St., formerly the home of a private corporate gift-giving firm, opened Thursday. The darkened glass windows featured little more than a 402 above the door.”

ACROSS THE RIVER: A bill that would require nonprofit hospitals in New Jersey, which conduct some for-profit activities, make annual financial contributions to the communities in which they reside cleared the Assembly appropriations committee and will likely be taken up by both chambers next week.

-NOT YET READY FOR PRIME TIME — A bill that would bar inverted companies — U.S. firms that re-incorporate abroad to reduce their corporate tax rate — from receiving New Jersey contracts or subsidies was pulled from a vote in the Senate after a heated floor debate Thursday.

PHARMA REPORT: Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is defending its agreement with Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. saying that the partnership will result in lower costs for customers.

-WHISTLEBLOWER — Alexandre Selmani, a former GlaxoSmithKline biostatistics manager has filed a whistleblower lawsuit accusing the drug maker of firing him for alleging dodgy study data was used to tout the effectiveness of a smoking-cessation product, according to Ed Sivlerman at Stat.


-TRANSPARENCY — Florida hospitals that have been under attack from Gov. Rick Scott for overcharging patients gave tentative support Thursday to a House bill that would increase requirements to disclose health care costs to both patients and the state. POLITICO Florida’s Christine Sexton has more:

-PATIENTS DON’T COMPREHEND FOLLOW-UP CARE — Lots of patients leaving hospitals don’t understand the instructions they receive in their follow-up care plans because the instructions are written for people with higher reading levels, Reuters reports.

-SODA TAX DROPS SUGARY IN INTAKE — The New York TImes reports: “A tax on sugary drinks implemented in 2014 in Mexico appears to have had a significant impact: After one year, sales of sugary beverages in the country fell as much as 12 percent while bottled water purchases rose 4 percent, a new study found.”

-OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT— More than 11.3 million people have signed up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act in the country and the District of Columbia, according to data released by the Department of Health and Human Services.

...New York State has still not announced its enrollment figures.

-ALZHEIMER’S BATTLE — The Dementia Discovery Fund, a new $100 million fund with backing from the UK government, has led a $29.5 million investment round to back research under way at San Francisco-based Alector LLC, which is focusing the eradication of brain plaque.

-WARM WEATHER IS GOOD FOR INSURERS — Bloomberg News says that the warmer weather, which has delayed the onset of flu season, is good for insurance companies. “Health insurer Centene Corp., for example, raised its 2015 earnings guidance by about 5 cents last month, thanks largely to the absence of flu.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from NYC Health + Hospitals, which reminds us, “always wash your and your baby's hands after changing a diaper.”


-OBESITY IN LOW-INCOME COMMUNITIES— Researchers at the University of Michigan Health Systems found that family income matters more than race in predicting which kids are overweight.

-EXERCISE DVDS DOING HARM — Working out at home with the help of exercise tapes may seem like a good idea, but the images and “motivating language” can do more harm than good, researchers at Oregon State University found.

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MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 1/7, 1/6, 1/5, 1/4, 12/24,

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