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POLITICO New York Health Care, presented by The Healthcare Education Project: Renewed push for Utica Hospital; Cuomo asks for PFOA guidelines

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

FUNDING RESTORED — The Senate and Assembly’s one-house budget proposals will restore $300 million in funding cut out of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget proposal for a hospital in Utica, POLITICO New York has learned.

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AND MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW Dan Goldberg and me on Twitter @J__Velasquez & @DanCGoldberg. And for all New Jersey health news, check out @katiedjennings

JOINING FORCES — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has joined with the governors of New Hampshire and Vermont to ask the federal Environmental Protection Agency to issue new guidelines for safe PFOA levels in drinking water.

** A message from The Healthcare Education Project: What’s a Health Insurance Guaranty Fund? It protects you if your health insurance plan goes broke. New York’s the only state without one.

Tell Albany we need a Health Insurance Guaranty Fund to ensure that families keep their coverage and healthcare providers aren’t left with massive unpaid bills. Visit: **

NOW WE KNOW — The reason your favorite basketball player may miss that free throw he or she has made dozens of times before, or that football player who fumbles the ball during a key play, is because of noise — brain noise.

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

CAPPED — Proposals to cap out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs, ideas popular on the campaign trail, would have little effect on what most consumers pay, according to a new report from the Manhattan Institute.

CITY WEIGHS CHANGES TO PRIVATE AMBULANCES — Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration and the FDNY are in talks over the future of the city's reliance on private ambulance companies, after the recent bankruptcy of Transcare, one of the city's largest private ambulance companies. Transcare's bankruptcy left the city on the hook for picking up the company's 81 daily ambulance tours, which served a large swath of the Bronx and Manhattan.

CHANGING ROLE — The Fire Department of New York is increasingly occupied with business that has nothing to do with fires, placing a strain on its ability to lower emergency response times, the department's commissioner said Thursday.

NO SMOKING — Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz and Sen. Gustavo Rivera introduced legislation Wednesday to extend the 100 feet smoking ban to entrances or exits of public libraries. The legislation would expand a 2012 law that prohibits smoking within 100 feet of any entrance of an elementary or secondary school.

ENDORSED — A slew of New York’s Congressional delegation endorsed Cuomo’s plan for 12 weeks of employee-funded paid family leave.

...Also at the rally was State Sen. Jeff Klein, who is floating his own paid family leave proposal that goes further than what the governor is asking for.

RESEARCH PARTNER Weill Cornell Medicine will announce today a strategic, preclinical research alliance with Janssen Biotech, Inc., one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. The partnership will test whether combining external-beam radiotherapy with Janssen’s immuno-oncology drugs helps combat solid tumors such as prostate and lung cancers. The goal is to have enough evidence to begin clinical trials. Patents would be kept by Cornell University.

A CASE FOR CONSOLIDATION Last week, we highlighted an op-ed by Paul Howard and Yevgeniy Feyman arguing against consolidation in the marketplace. Here is a sort of counterargument from Kaiser Health News, which looks at all the rural hospitals that can no longer make it on their own, and are shutting down across the United States.

SETTLED — The health care staffing agency that posted an ad requesting "no Haitians" has reached a settlement with the attorney general's office. Interim Healthcare of Greater New York, Inc., posted the ad because of a patient's request and the company placed the ad by mistake, according to the attorney general. The company has agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty, prohibit discriminatory conduct in processing patients’ requests for caregivers, hiring and advertising for employment in compliance with the law, and designate an employee to oversee patients’ requests for caregivers, advertising and hiring.

DON’T DO THAT — NBC News found loads of personal patient reports and other supposedly confidential information dumped in a trash bin outside the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Senior Health Center in Chelsea.

EXPANDING — The Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, a Kaleida Health facility, is expanding its services at its Hamburg women’s clinic, adding outpatient pediatric services, Buffalo Business First reports. According to the hospital’s plans, filed with the state’s Department of Health, they want to add pre- and post-operative clinic visits.

ALSO EXPANDING Mount Sinai is expanding neurosurgery services to Mount Sinai Brooklyn. The hospital will now perform Chiari malformation procedures, cerebrospinal diversions, intracranial hemorrhage evacuation, intrathecal pumps (for pain and spasticity), spinal cord and vagal nerve stimulation, cervical and lumbar disc replacement procedures, minimally invasive spine surgeries, and microdiscectomies and spinal fusions.

SUPERVISED INJECTION SITES — Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal told the Daily News that she plans on introducing legislation to legalize supervised injection facilities, areas where intravenous drug users can self-administer drugs under medical supervision. Her announcement comes just weeks after Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick proposed a similar sort of facility for his city. Senate Republicans balked at the proposal.

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.

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

MAKING ROUNDS — Dr. Ann Errichetti, who serves as CEO of Albany-based St. ’s Hospital and Albany Memorial Hospital, is set to leave the Capital Region in April to take a position at a larger health system in Buffalo, the Times Union reports. She will be replaced in the interim by Virginia Golden, the St. ’s Health System’s chief integration office.

GRANT LAND — A three-year grant of $339,000 was awarded to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center from the and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation to support service coordination and care management to youths with developmental disabilities.

ACROSS THE RIVER: POLITICO New Jersey’s Katie Jennings explains why the sale of Newark’s Saint Michael’s hospital may end up costing the state of New Jersey more than $300 million.

-FAST START More than 234,200 New Jersey residents have enrolled in Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey’s OMNIA tiered health plans, the insurer announced on Thursday. This includes around 41,000 individuals who were previously uninsured. OMNIA has ignited a debate in the State House regarding the oversight and regulation of tiered plans. Unions and businesses say tiered plans are needed to lower health care costs for consumers and employees. But some legislators and hospital executives contend that the OMNIA plans could negatively impact the financial stability of hospitals designated as Tier 2 because of Horizon’s dominance in the state’s insurance marketplace.


-SENATE APPROVES OPIOID BILL — The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved legislation to address the opioid epidemic, POLITICO reports. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act was approved 94-to-1. Democrats had threatened to block the bill last month if Republicans didn’t add $600 million to fund programs, but backed off when it became clear that there wasn’t support among the GOP to allocate the money.

-IN CASE YOU MISSED CVS keeps trying to position itself as a wellness company by taking on tobacco. The company announced it would spend $50 million during the next five years on anti-smoking campaign.

-THE BOTTOM — HealthGrove used data from the Kaiser Family Foundation to do an analysis of health care in the U.S. Most of the 25 worst states are conservative and rural, through some liberal states — like Oregon — also made the list. Top five worst states for health care access; Georgia, Texas, Idaho, Oklahoma, New Mexico.

-RAISING THE SMOKING AGE — NPR reports: “The California Senate voted Thursday to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The measure is part of a larger package of legislation aimed at cracking down on tobacco. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill, California will become the second state, after Hawaii, to raise the age limit for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products. More than 100 cities around the country, including New York and Boston, have already raised the age limit.”

-TRUMP’S SURRENDER — POLITICO’s Paul Demko: “Donald Trump has campaigned on an odd mix of health care ideas from right and left — until he began to pull away from the pack as the Republican front-runner. Now his language has changed — to boilerplate GOP ideas which date back to the Reagan administration. In the last few days, a batch of GOP establishment talking points have appeared on his website, lining up his radically anti-establishment campaign with mainstream Republican thinking on how to build a better health care system. While the billionaire businessman has repeatedly said that poor people shouldn’t be “dying on the street,” for instance, he now wants to turn the country’s biggest health program for the poor into a block grant and give tax breaks to people who buy their own insurance.”

WARNING IGNORED The Department of Health and Human Services ignored evidence that many of the 23 nonprofit health plans seeded with Affordable Care Act loans lacked sound business plans and were in financial peril, according to a report released by a Senate subcommittee.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from from Mount Sinai. Taking vitamin D and vitamin D-rich foods during pregnancy can reduce allergy risks in children.


-PROCESSED — ”Ultra-processed” foods make up more than half of the calories consumed in the U.S. diet and nearly 90 percent of all sugar intake, a study in BMJ Open found. Ultra processed foods include soft drinks, sweet and savory packaged snacks, packaged baked goods, chicken nuggets, reconstituted meat products, instant noodles and soup. Added sugars represented one in every five calories in the average ultra-processed food product.

-A TASTY WAY TO BECOME SMARTER — A study in the journal Appetite found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week saw their memory and abstract thinking improve. Habitual chocolate intake was associated with better visual spatial memory, organization and working memory.

** A message from The Healthcare Education Project: What’s a Health Insurance Guaranty Fund? It protects patients and healthcare providers if a health insurance plan goes broke. 49 states have one. New York is the only state that doesn’t. The recent failure of Health Republic left consumers scrambling for new coverage, and hospitals and doctors statewide are still owed hundreds of millions for care they already provided. We need a Guaranty Fund to protect patients and healthcare providers before it’s too late.

The New York State Legislature should create a Health Insurance Guaranty Fund to ensure that families keep their coverage and healthcare providers aren’t left with massive unpaid bills. To learn more, **

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 3/10, 3/9, 3/8, 3/7, 3/4

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