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POLITICO New York Health Care, presented by The Healthcare Education Project: Cuomo's noncommittal on post-Health Republic help; city Zika spending

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written by Dan Goldberg

COMMITMENT ISSUES — Asked Tuesday whether the state should help the hospitals and health care providers saddled with hundreds of millions in unpaid claims after the collapse of Health Republic Insurance of New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo would not commit. The governor seemed to recoil at the idea of a guarantee fund, which would levy a one-time assessment on health insurers, saying the state regulates insurers but does not insure them. POLITICO New York’s Josefa Velasquez has more:

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

FOLLOW THE MONEY — New York City’s health department has already spent $2.8 million combating the Zika virus and could spend as much as $20 million over the next three years, deputy director of disease control Jay Varma told the Board of Health on Tuesday.

SIGN UP: We're launching The Strategist from POLITICO New York this Thursday, March 17. The Strategist is a newsletter about the business of politics and policy in New York City and Albany. You will receive exclusive access to this reported briefing on money in politics, executive moves, and the latest trends in communications, lobbying and political consulting. Sign up here:

** 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 — Here is a message for brides-to-be. You spend more when the purchase is a matter of the heart, according to research from University of Colorado Boulder. The same theory applies to bereaved as people are reluctant to skimp on urns, according to the study published in Judgment and Decision Making.

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

TAMPON TAX — The Democrat-dominated state Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation exempting feminine hygiene products from state sales tax. The bill, sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan, passed, 127-0. According to the state’s Department of Tax and Finance, feminine hygiene products are subject to the state's four percent sales tax because they are not used to treat or prevent illnesses or diseases. The legislation has support in the Republican-led Senate and from the Cuomo administration.

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

OSCAR, OSCAR — A Google veteran is joining Oscar health insurance, the startup company that has investors swooning even as it reports less than stellar financials. Alan Warren, who oversaw Google Docs and Google Drive, is Oscar's new chief technology officer, according to a blog post from Oscar CEO Mario Schlosser. Oscar has been valued at $2.7 billion, and the value has been increasing rapidly. Oscar reported a $92.4 million loss in New York in 2015, its second year of operations and a $12.8 million loss in New Jersey for 2015, the company's first year of operations. Google Capital has invested at least $32.5 million in Oscar, according to The Wall Street Journal.

GRANT LAND — The National Institutes of Health has awarded a five-year, $2 million grant to researchers at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.

MAKING ROUNDS — Timothy Strawderman has been named the new executive director of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. Strawderman will take his new position in May, according to a press release from Langone. He previously served as the founding executive director for cancer center administration at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Langone also announced that Itai Yanai has been named the director of the newly-created Institute for Computational Medicine. Yanai comes from the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology.

ACROSS THE RIVER: The state is changing the way it pays for mental health and substance abuse treatment for Medicaid beneficiaries in FY 2017, moving from a contract-based reimbursement system to one that is fee-for-service. Gov. Chris Christie announced in his budget address that $127.8 million would go toward increasing reimbursements to providers for these behavioral health services. The state is investing $20 million and the remaining amount comes from federal matches. At a Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee public hearing on Tuesday, mental health advocates praised the increase in funding, but said there needs to be a cost-of-living adjustment for the remaining contract-based reimbursements.

PHARMA REPORT: Stat, the reporting outfit tied to the Boston Globe is “asking a Kentucky court to make public sealed documents that could provide new information on how Purdue Pharma marketed its potent pain pill OxyContin — including what top executives knew about how addictive it was, and whether they downplayed the risks.”


-OPIOID GUIDELINES The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the first national standards for prescription painkillers, ending months of arguments with pain doctors and drug industry groups and beginning what officials contended would be more judicious prescribing of the highly addictive medicines, according to The New York Times.

FARE THEE WELL — Paul Levy is ending his excellent blog, Not Running a Hospital.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the state health department, which reminds us that “yearly, about 1,700 New Yorkers are treated at a hospital for injuries from using scooters. Get kids geared up.”


-GUT FEELING — Weill Cornell Medicine researchers say bacteria, which inhabits human and mouse cells, seems to protect the body from inflammation and illness, according to an article in Immunity.

** 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, visit: **

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 3/15, 3/14, 3/11, 3/10, 3/9

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