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POLITICO New York Health Care: Cuomo hinders MSK-CUNY deal; Erin Brockovich and the PFOA probe

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

HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU — It was late summer 2012, and then-mayor Michael Bloomberg summoned the City Hall press corps to the Upper East Side to unveil “a hugely significant agreement.” The City University of New York and New York’s pre-eminent cancer treatment center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, were going to drop $215 million on a site on East 73rd Street overlooking the East River. CUNY is controlled by the state, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who did not get along particularly well with Bloomberg, was not involved in planning the press conference, and was invited to it at the last minute. He did not attend. Afterward, Cuomo's then top aide, Larry Schwartz, rang up CUNY executives and bawled them out, according to two knowledgeable sources. The Cuomo administration's fit of pique has since become legendary among CUNY insiders because it seemed to herald a worsening of relations between the public university and the governor. In its aftermath, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering half of the project is poised to move forward, once the building's foundation is complete. CUNY’s portion might not because four years after the Bloomberg announcement, Cuomo has yet to include funding in his budget, a document that made readily apparent a barely concealed secret: the governor is just not that into the City University of New York.

ERIN BROCKOVICH — Environmental activist Erin Brockovich and the law firm that employs her are expanding their investigation into PFOA-tainted drinking water to the town of sburgh, Rensselaer County, and expect to soon file a lawsuit over water pollution in Hoosick Falls.

PERSONNEL: Weill Cornell Medicine's dean headed to Boston:

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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

AUDIT — The state Department of Health needs to do a better job enforcing its policies and issuing fines to nursing homes in a timely manner, an audit released Monday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office found. Read the audit, along with DOH’s full response, here:

NOW WE KNOW — Lisa Damour, a psychologist in private practice in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a clinical instructor at Case Western Reserve University and the director of Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls, explains in the New York Times the many reasons why teenage girls roll their eyes.

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

CHECK THIS OUT — The Manhattan Institute is hosting a conference March 23 on hospital consolidation and competition in New York State. Distinguished health care experts, from academia, business, and nonprofits, will examine various tools that policymakers can use to deliver better outcomes across New York’s vast health care ecosystem, including regulatory reforms to boost competition, better state and federal antitrust oversight, and value-based purchasing strategies.

...I’ll be moderating the first panel and want to know what you think I should ask and/or discuss. Email me at

OSCAR OSCAR — Forbes reports the mutual fund Fidelity, a relatively conservative investor, has put $400 million into Oscar, meaning the health insurance start-up is now valued at $2.7 billion. That’s an increase of $1 billion in less than six months, according to Forbes.

...I’ve been asking readers why they think the company’s valuation is so high. If any readers have thoughts on what the end-game is, send me an email at

DON’T DO THAT — The New York Times reports: “A woman who claimed last month that an emergency room doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital sexually assaulted her has filed a lawsuit stating there is DNA evidence to prove the assault.”

SUPERVISED INJECTION — Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick wants the city to offer a supervised facility where heroin users would be able to shoot up under direct care of medical personnel, without fear of being arrested.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROPOSAL — Medical marijuana growers would be allowed to market their medicines directly to doctors, according to a proposal expected to be introduced by state Sen. Diane Savino, the Times Union reports.

AWARDS Steve Coe, CEO of Community Access, will receive the National Council for Behavioral Health’s prestigious Individual Achievement in Advocacy award.

COMING ATTRACTIONS — The NewYork-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital and Dr. Charles Popkin, a sports medicine specialist, are offering a talk on injury prevention followed by free screenings for girls, ages 12-18, to help determine who may be at risk for developing an ACL injury. It takes place from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday at NYP/Lawrence Hospital, 55 Palmer Avenue, Palmer Hall.

...HANYS and Cornell University are offering the Advanced Executive Leadership for Physicians course, which combines policy and program review, advanced learning, peer interaction, and the use of assessment tools for long-term individual leadership development. The 2016 inaugural program will be delivered in two sessions, May 2-4 and June 6-8, at the Cornell Industrial Labor Relations Conference Center, 16 E. 34th Street.

GRANT LAND — The United Hospital Fund on Monday launched the Outpatient Antibiotic Stewardship Initiative to better develop antibiotic practices in the metropolitan area. Nine New York hospitals and health systems will receive a combined $355,780 in UHF grants to participate in the program.

ACROSS THE RIVER — A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Daniel Benson would cap co-pays for prescription drugs, including specialty drugs, at $100 for a 30-day supply for many state-regulated health insurance plans. But opponents say the legislation fails to address the underlying problem of high specialty drug costs and simply shifts the burden onto insurers. Also, they say, it would only apply to around 30 percent of health plans in the state. POLITICO New Jersey’s Katie Jennings has more:

...An Assembly panel has released legislation that would allocate funds for corner stores to provide fresh produce in food deserts. The bill (A-1877) would require the state Department of Health to develop a “Healthy Corner Store Program” to fund up to $5,000 per store for refrigeration, shelving and equipment to properly store fruits and vegetables. Under the bill, the health department would also select one or more nonprofit organizations to oversee the program. The Democrat-backed bill would also offer retailers mini-grants of up to $100 to meet initial expenses.

PHARMA REPORT: CVS plans to restrict the use of a $1,000 per bottle toenail fungus drug from Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., as part of an initiative aimed at cutting spending on dermatology treatments, according to Bloomberg News.

...And then The Wall Street Journal reported Valeant would restate earnings after an internal review.


-WORKING — The New York Times reports: “A vaccine introduced a decade ago to combat the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer has already reduced the virus’ prevalence in teenage girls by almost two-thirds, federal researchers said Monday.”

-CALIFF MOVES FORWARD — The U.S. Senate voted, 80-6, on Monday to clear the way for a final vote on the White House nominee for Food and Drug Administration commissioner over the objections of several Democrats. The procedural vote clears the way for final confirmation of Robert Califf Tuesday or Wednesday.

...Why this is weird: Majority leader Mitch McConnell pushed a White House nominee despite opposition from at least three Democrats and one member of his own party who's in a tough purple state re-election battle, according to POLITICO. “It's a testament to the regulated industries' unanimity on the need for a confirmed agency leader, picked for his bipartisan appeal.”

-OBAMA’S PRESCRIPTION — President Obama on Monday said a national push to cap opioid prescriptions can't be successful unless access to mental health and substance abuse treatment is expanded, especially in rural areas, according to POLITICO.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from Montefiore Health System, which offers us “five heart-health must haves: healthy diet, exercise, stop smoking, relax and monitor your health.”


-EVERY DROP IS LIKE A SNOWFLAKE — Researchers at Rice University found that different drops of blood from a single finger showed varying levels of hemoglobin, white blood cell counts and platelet counts, according to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Pathology. What might this mean for a company such as Theranos, which relies on small amounts of blood for diagnostic tests?

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 2/22, 2/19, 2/18, 2/17, 2/16

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