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POLITICO New York Health Care, presented by The New York State Association of Nurse Anesthetists (NYSANA): Budget hearings on health spending and policy; Flint, NY?

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 Dan Goldberg

ZUCKER QUESTIONED ON HANDLING OF WATER ISSUE — State health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker tried to avoid questions Monday about why the state did not warn residents in upstate Hoosick Falls that the village water supply was contaminated until after the federal Environmental Protection Agency intervened. At one point reporters were physically blocked from asking him about it.

MINIMUM WAGE, MAXIMUM CONCERN Health care providers and some lawmakers criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to hike the hourly minimum wage to $15 during a budgetary hearing Monday.

DFS SKIPS BUDGET HEARING — State legislators hoping for answers from the Cuomo administration on the demise of Health Republic Insurance of New York were disappointed to learn that representatives from the Department of Financial Services decided not to show to Monday’s budget hearing.

DODGEBALL — The DFS no-show wasn't Zucker's fault, but his non-answer wasn't unique to the health insurance question. Repeatedly, Zucker told legislators he would have to get back to them, or he simply avoided answering their direct question, especially when they asked for a timeline. Here's a brief sample: "We are moving quickly," Zucker said when asked if distribution of capital for hospitals in the DSRIP program would occur before the end of the fiscal year. "Within the coming months," Zucker said when asked about the $700 million for Brooklyn health care allocated in last year's budget. "We can get you that," Zucker said when asked if the Department of Health kept a list of distressed hospitals and nursing homes. "I can get you the exact numbers," Zucker replied when asked how much money has been budgeted for tobacco control. "I am optimistic that this will tackle the opioid problem," when asked for results of the I-Stop program. "We hear your concerns," when told that hospitals and other providers were concerned about how they could afford to raise the minimum wage. "We can get back to you," when asked how many people would transition out of Medicaid because of the minimum wage increase. He also avoided questions about when and how medical facilities are inspected.

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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

OBAMACARE NUMBERS — More than 2.7 million New Yorkers have enrolled in a health insurance plan through the New York State of Health, the insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act.

...The Congressional Budget Office estimated that about 11 million Americans per month, on average, will receive subsidies through the Affordable Care Act in 2016 and another 2 million will purchase insurance through the exchanges, bringing the total enrollment number in any given month to roughly 13 million people, according to POLITICO. That figure released Monday is lower than earlier CBO estimates, but higher than the Obama administration's target of having about 10 million people covered in the exchanges at the end of the year.

NOW WE KNOW — "Stich and Bitch" apparently has real health benefits. The New York Times reports that "the repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga.”

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

** A message from The New York State Association of Nurse Anesthetists (NYSANA): Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are highly educated, advanced practice registered nurses. They’ve been administering anesthesia for over 150 years, and have been recognized Medicare providers since 1986. So why doesn’t NY recognize them as licensed health care professionals? Visit to learn how CRNA Title Protection will protect patients. **

OPINION — Paul Howard and Yevgeniy Feyman, from the Manhattan Institute, say Cuomo's proposal to rein in drug prices are "shallow politics and little more."

CONTRACEPTION COVERAGE — The Assembly on Monday passed the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act which, if it were to become law, would cover additional contraceptive methods for men and women with no co-pay, provide coverage for emergency contraception purchased at community pharmacies and allow up to 12 months of contraceptives to be dispensed at one time.

CONVERT — A bill that would strengthen New York’s abortion rights law has gained its first Republican supporter in the GOP-controlled state Senate, according to The New York Daily News. "State Sen. John Bonacic said Monday he would support the controversial Reproductive Health Act, which would place into state law the abortion rights provisions contained in the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision."

NEW LEADER — David Sandman will lead the New York State Health Foundation, the nonprofit announced Monday. Sandman, who replaces founder James Knickman, had been senior vice president since 2008, and also served as executive director of the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, also known as the Berger Commission.

SHKRELI'S LATEST — A federal judge in New York modified the conditions of Martin Shkreli's bail so that he may testify before Congress on Feb. 4. Shkreli, who faces criminal charges, will have to provide the court with his travel itinerary and his accommodations and notify the court upon his return to New York.

MAKING ROUNDS — Montefiore Health System announced Monday that John Finger was appointed senior vice president of strategic planning and business development.

NEEDLE DISPOSAL — Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center can help you get rid of your unwanted used needles, syringes and lancets. The hospital has a free service that operates weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The equipment may be dropped off at the main reception desk at the medical center, 621 10th St. or at the ER1 Emergency Department, 571 10th St.

IN CASE YOU MISSED — Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to spend $200 million to build a high-tech drug-manufacturing center in Dunkirk for a Buffalo biotech firm, according to The Buffalo News.


-AMAZING STAT — Moving certain hydrocodone products from Schedule III to Schedule II reduced the number of prescriptions by 26.3 million — or 1.1 billion tablets — compared to the year before the change took effect in October 2014.

-MEDICARE TRUST FUND — Medicare's hospital insurance trust fund will be exhausted in 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office's new budget and economic outlook released Monday.

-THE VERMONTH EXPERIMENT — Vermont governor Shumlin has released a proposed policy framework for the "all-payer waiver" the state is negotiating with the federal government, according to POLITICO.

-HOLD PLEASE — Sen. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said Monday he placed a hold on Robert Califf, President Obama's nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration, until the agency agrees to reform its process for approving opioid painkillers.

-ZIKA CONCERN Scientists are now concerned the Zika virus may, on rare occasions, be transmitted sexually. The evidence is slim but it would present a huge new danger, according to The New York Times.

-REVERSAL OF FORTUNE — The Associated Press reports: "A Houston grand jury investigating undercover footage of Planned Parenthood found no wrongdoing Monday by the abortion provider, and instead indicted anti-abortion activists involved in making the videos that targeted the handling of fetal tissue in clinics and provoked outrage among Republican leaders nationwide."

-WHO WILL TREAT US WHEN WE'RE OLD? Geriatrics is one of the few specialties in the United States that is contracting even as the need increases, according to The New York Times.

-MALARIA MONEY — The United Kingdom and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced £3 billion (about $4.3 billion) over five years to support ending malaria. More from AFP:

-CAUGHT ON TAPE — POLITICO reports: "Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper earlier this month expressed reservations about a single-payer health care measure that will appear on the November ballot, according to recordings circulated by conservative groups Monday.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the Community Healthcare Network, which reminds us: “In order to prevent cervical cancer, it is important to remember that not all individuals should get a pap test every three years. Individuals with HIV, transplant recipients, and people with abnormal pap tests should receive at least an annual pap. Please see your doctor for more information.”


-MONKEYS THAT MIMIC AUTISTIC BEHAVIORS — The New York Times reports on a study from the journal Nature, which explained how scientists genetically engineered monkeys so that they exhibit behaviors similar to autism, with a goal of testing potential therapies on the animals in hopes that their resemblance to humans will yield more answers about the disorder.

-CANCER SCREENING DON’T SAVE LIVES? — Cancer screening has never been shown to save lives, according to an article in The British Medical Journal.

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 1/25, 1/22, 1/21, 1/20, 1/19

** A message from The New York State Association of Nurse Anesthetists (NYSANA): If New York wants to get serious about reducing medical costs and improving patient care, especially in rural and underserved areas, it should consider policies to increase the use of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs).

CRNAs provide half of all anesthesia services in NY, and 80% in rural areas. Yet New York is one of the last two states that hasn't recognized CRNA's as licensed health care professionals.

Title protection will guarantee that the state has the authority to recognize and regulate CRNA practice. To protect the safety and quality of patient care, NY should recognize CRNAs as licensed health professionals. Visit to learn how CRNA Title Protection will protect patients. **

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