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POLITICO New York Health Care: EmblemHealth finances improving; state sued over tampon tax

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written by Josefa Velasquez

IT’S GETTING BETTER — EmblemHealth reported a $129 million underwriting loss in 2015, a significant year-over-year improvement for one of the state's largest insurers.

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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

TAMPON LAWSUIT — Five women have filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance to end the so-called “tampon tax.” Read the full lawsuit here:

...The Cuomo administration on Thursday said it is supportive of a push to remove the sales tax from feminine hygiene products. “We agree that sales tax on these products should be repealed and will work with the Legislature to do so," said spokeswoman Dani Lever. There are several proposals before the Legislature that would make feminine hygiene products tax exempt. Both legislative leaders have also signaled support for repealing the so-called "tampon tax," increasing the likelihood of the legislation becoming law.

NOW WE KNOW — Gentlemen, bromances are good for you. A study of male rats by researchers at University of California, Berkeley found that bromances have similar health effects as a romantic relationship. The relationships increase the levels of oxytocin in the brain leading to longer and healthier lives.

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

REINSURANCE DISAPPEARANCE? — Obamacare's reinsurance program expires after this year. That program funnels $20 billion over three years to insurers who attract patients with huge medical costs. The disappearance of those funds could contribute to big spikes in premiums. United Hospital Fund offers three possible solutions to limit sticker shock from the reinsurance program disappearing, but all options would trigger political problems. Read the report here:

SUED — ”Former employees of Patriarch Partners LLC's TransCare sued the private-equity fund founded by Lynn Tilton, claiming it broke the law when it fired them without cause in a bankruptcy proceeding.” Crain’s has the story:

TELEMEDICINE — Buffalo-based Five Star Urgent Care is marketing its telemedicine services in Albany, Rochester and Buffalo, The Albany Business Review reports.

WHAT’S IN A NAME — The NonProfit Times reports: “New York City’s longtime Alzheimer’s Association chapter has surfaced with a new name: CaringKind.”

GRANT LAND — St. Joseph’s Health announced that the Syracuse Health Coalition was awarded a three-year $1.5 million grant as part of Trinity Health’s national “Transforming Communities Initiative.”

HAPPENING TODAY— Department of Health commissioner Howard Zucker will make an announcement at the Greater New York Hospital Association headquarters.

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.

...POLITICO New York’s Dan Goldberg will be moderating the first panel and wants to know what you think he should ask and/or discuss. Email him at

COMING ATTRACTIONS — The UB Mini Med School, a public service, community education program of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, will present a three-part series on “Confronting the Opioid Epidemic." Presentations will be held from 6–8 p.m. on March 15, 22 and 29. More information and registration is available here.

ACROSS THE RIVER — Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday that he is “engaged in conversations with the Legislature” about the tax-exempt status of nonprofit hospitals, but declined to elaborate on details. This is the first time the governor spoke publicly about the issue since he pocket-vetoed a bipartisan bill last session that would have let nonprofit hospitals that conduct some for-profit medical activities make annual community contributions and still maintain a tax-exempt status. “I had no time to consider it. They passed it at the last minute of lame duck without any consultation with us,” Christie said at a State House press conference Thursday. “When they throw hundreds of bills on my desk and I have a very short period of time, seven days, to consider them, you don’t have enough time to do something that big and that important, responsibly.” POLITICO New Jersey’s Katie Jennings has more:

IN THE PANHANDLE — POLITICO Florida’s Christine Sexton reports that the Florida House of Representatives voted 99-16 to approve a medical marijuana bill Thursday, sending a bill to the Senate that is nearly identical to its Senate counterpart and seems poised for passage. The bill expands the group of people who are eligible for medical marijuana to include terminally ill patients. Unlike the current law, which is limited to low THC cannabis and children, the terminally ill would be able to use traditional marijuana.


-IT’S WICKED A Boston nonprofit plans to soon open a room with a nurse, some soft chairs and basic life-saving equipment — a place where heroin users can ride out their high, under medical supervision, according to Kaiser Health News.

-OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT — Twenty million people have gained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama announced in Wisconsin. The figure includes people newly covered through insurance exchanges, Medicaid expansion and the provision allowing young adults to stay on their parent's health plans until they turn 26 years old. HHS estimated that about 6.1 million young adults have gained coverage since 2010.

-ROMNEY KNOCKS TRUMP — "Not every policy Donald Trump has floated is bad. He wants to repeal and replace Obamacare," Romney said. "But his prescriptions to do these things are flimsy at best. At the last debate, all he could remember about his health care plan was to remove insurance boundaries between states." More from POLITICO on Romney's speech:

-RAISING THE SMOKING AGE — The California Assembly passed a bill Thursday that would raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21, paving the way for the first major state to adopt such a measure. The bill is expected to pass the Senate next week before moving to the governor’s desk.

-THE BLUES — Health Care Service Corp, which owns Blue Cross and Blue Shield, improved its net loss in 2014, but Blue Cross and Blue Shield continue to hemorrhage money, Modern Healthcare reports.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the Cleveland Clinic. Consuming colorful cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage and cauliflower, can help reduce your risk of colon cancer.


-PEANUT BUTTER -JELLY TIME — A study of Hispanic middle school children who are at a high risk of being overweight or obese reduced their body mass index when they included peanut snacks in their diet. A study by the University of Houston and published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children, found that students who received snacks of peanuts or peanut butters three to four times a week had an overall decreased BMI.

-MEMORY FADES — Long-term stress can erode memory, a study by Ohio State University found.

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 3/3, 3/2, 3/1, 2/29, 2/26

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