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POLITICO New York Health Care: Salt study could hurt city's case; Gottfried's guaranty

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

SALT STUDY COULD HURT CITY — A former member of New York City's Board of Health and a pair of Columbia researchers published a paper Wednesday night that could prove detrimental to the city's case for a new sodium rule, which requires restaurant chains publish warnings for menu items that contain more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium. The findings may prove beneficial for the National Restaurant Association's lawsuit, claiming the city's new sodium mandate is unconstitutional. Ready my story to find out why:

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

GOTTFRIED PUSHES FOR GUARANTY FUND — Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, head of the chamber’s health committee, is sponsoring a bill to establish a guaranty fund which would help pay back physicians and hospitals that lose money when a health insurance company declares bankruptcy. POLITICO New York’s Josefa Velasquez has more:

NOW WE KNOW — Research continues to show that freezing a steak and cooking it later improves the tenderness of certain cuts, according to some fresh work from Kansas State University’s meat scientists. (That’s a real thing!)

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

OSCAR, OSCAR — Oscar Health, the much-hyped health insurance startup, enrolled slightly more than 2,000 Covered California customers in its first year in the marketplace, POLITICO reports. “Oscar, a New York City-based carrier that investors have valued at more than $1.75 billion, has tried to distinguish itself through quirky advertising and by promoting itself as a consumer-friendly, tech-savvy alternative to traditional insurers.” Oscar lost $27.5 million across 2014, its first year of insuring patients. And by the third quarter of 2015, it was losing $41.5 million on just its New York customers, according to the most recent filings with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.”

...Here’s my question: Some very smart people have invested some very serious money into Oscar. Do any smart readers understand the long-term plan and why the company is valued at nearly $2 billion? Email me.

SEBELIUS WORRIES FOR OBAMACARE — Former Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a principal architect of the Affordable Care Act, is concerned about the law's future should a Republican be elected president in November. POLITICO New York’s Addy Baird has more:

GROWING SUPPORT — As Gov. Andrew Cuomo travels throughout the state to rally support for his proposal for 12 weeks of paid family leave, the NAACP, Make the Road NY, New York Communities for Change, A Better Balance and 13 other advocacy groups have signed on to the governor's effort.

OFF MESSAGE — In a seeming difference of opinion with her husband, first lady Chirlane McCray called the possibility of closing Rikers Island a “great idea” during an interview with Jezebel.

FIGHTING INFECTION — The Wall Street Journal has a good story on what New york hospitals are doing to fight hospital-acquired infections.

A LONG BEACH PLAN — Newsday has a deep look at South Nassau Communities Hospital’s proposal to spend $40 million of $170 million in potential federal and state reimbursements on a medical arts pavilion in Long Beach and the remainder on an expansion at its Oceanside campus.

EDITORIAL — The Times Union takes Gov. Andrew Cuomo to task for the medical marijuana program’s slow start. “[T]he program's inauspicious launch raises doubts about its capacity to serve the very patients for whom it was intended.”

INVESTING STRATEGY — Crain’s writes about Hometeam, a Manhattan-based company with an app that matches home health aides to elders based on their interests and expertise.

ACROSS THE RIVER: In his annual budget address on Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie said he was going to continue funding “vital preventative and reproductive services” for women.

PHARMA REPORT: The Wall Street Journal reports: “The Laura and John Arnold Foundation will provide a total of $7.2 million to four organizations to fund research and pilot projects aimed at reining in drug costs and lowering financial barriers for patients, according to the foundation.”


-DOWNTON ABBEY — Kaiser Health News points out that one of the plot points in Downton Abbey, a show that takes place nearly 100 years ago, has some timely themes. In the show, the big hospital in York wants to take over the Downton Cottage Hospital next to the family estate, setting off a debate over the value of mergers and consolidation. “If we form such a partnership, our patients would have more access to more modern equipment. To more advanced treatments,” Downton Abbey’s Lord Merton noted on the show. Sound familiar?

-HONEY, CAN YOU SIGN THIS? — Kentucky State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, a Democrat, proposed legislation that would require men to visit a doctor at least twice and obtain a signed permission slip from their wives before they could obtain a prescription for Viagra, according to

-HEP C LAWSUIT — POLITICO reports: “A new class-action lawsuit accuses Washington state of illegally denying Medicaid patients access to new hepatitis C treatments based on the cost of the drugs. The state's Health Care Authority is restricting use of the drugs, such as Gilead's Sovaldi and Harvoni, only to the sickest patients. The lawsuit claims this violates federal law, which requires state Medicaid programs to provide reasonably prompt coverage of medically necessary prescription drugs to all enrollees who are prescribed the treatments.” Watch this case because many states, including New York, have put in place similar restrictions.”

-NEEDLE EXCHANGE — Kaiser Health News looks at needle exchange programs, which “could receive a financial boost this year following a decision by Congress to lift a ban on federal funding.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the New York City health department: “Preparing your lunch to bring to work tomorrow? Here are tips for planning a healthy meal.”


-FOOD INSECURITY — Researchers at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and Weill Cornell Medical College, writing in Academic Pediatrics, say one in 10 adolescents living in households with food insecurity have poorer parent-reported mental health than peers.

-DRUGS AND ALCOHOL — Adults who use marijuana are five times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder, according to a study from researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the City University of New York published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

-HEART BURN — The New York Times reports on a Neurology study: “The popular heartburn drugs known as proton pump inhibitors have been linked to a range of ills: bone fractures, kidney problems, infections and more. Now a large new study has found that they are associated with an increased risk for dementia as well. Proton pump inhibitors, or P.P.I.s, are widely available both by prescription and over the counter under various brand names, including Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium.”

-BRING ON THE EGGS — A Finnish study, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides more evidence that eating high-cholesterol food does not increase the risk for heart disease, according to The New York Times.

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 2/17, 2/16, 2/12, 2/11, 2/10

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