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POLITICO New York Health Care, presented by The Healthcare Education Project: Zucker's Zika plan; E-prescribing exemptions

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

ZUCKER ON ZIKA — Gov. Andrew Cuomo, hands clasped in front of his waist, stared down studiously as his health commissioner explained how a mosquito trap worked. "Once a mosquito goes in, the fan helps pull it down," commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker explained during a press conference in Cuomo's New York City office on Thursday. Zucker and Cuomo had gathered to announce the state's six-point plan to combat the Zika virus, which has so far infected 49 people throughout New York State. The state will: distribute 100,000 larvicide tablets; deploy 1,000 traps and test 60,000 mosquitoes per month; offer pregnant women free kits, which will include literature and condoms; deploy teams to any area that reports a local transmission of the virus; require local health departments submit Zika-control plans; and launch a media campaign at the airports.

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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

EXEMPTIONS TO E-PRESCRIBING — State health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker issued a blanket waiver for the state’s new e-prescribing law, allaying some concerns the software wasn’t up to the task. Zucker’s announcement, sent to prescribers on Wednesday, lets physicians retain pen and paper if they work in a nursing home or residential health care facility which does not have the appropriate software.

** 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 — “Forever young, I want to be forever young.” Getting older has its upside, but it’s also a bummer. And to add to it, aging is portrayed negatively in popular music, a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found. Most popular music is “generated from a young person’s perspective and their imaginings of old age,” the study found.

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

ONE-STOP SHOP — There’s a vending machine inside Sunshine Laundromat and Pinball in Greenpoint that supplies more than just candy. It also contains some family planning tools: pregnancy tests, personal lubricant and the morning after pill. DNAinfo reports that owner Rose made the new additions for entertainment reasons.

DE BLASIO TO COOPERATE WITH U.S. ATTORNEY — Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday his administration stands ready to cooperate with the federal government in an investigation into the New York City Housing Authority over the potential of elevated lead levels in residents’ blood and other unsafe or unsanitary conditions.

SOLD — Buffalo Business First reports: “Catholic Health has finalized the sale of two more adult homes in the region, completing a three-home deal with a group of Long Island nursing home investors.”

SETTLED — The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research on Thursday agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights $3.9 million to settle potential HIPAA violations.

LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE — Kaiser Health News reports: ”New Yorkers who bought long-term care insurance from Genworth Financial Inc. … were hit with a 60-percent premium increase in October.

PRIZED — The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research awarded Dr. Charles Serhan, director of the Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the fourth annual Ross Prize in molecular medicine. The Ross Prize comes with $50,000.

COMING ATTRACTIONS — The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is hosting a Match Day party from noon to 2 p.m. today at school’s Annenberg West Lobby.

...Members of the New York State Nurses Association will rally today at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica, Oneida Healthcare in Oneida and Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown.

MAKING ROUNDS — Robert Newborn is leaving Northwell Health to become deputy chief medical officer and chief quality office at CareMount, formerly knows as the Mount Kisco Medical Group.

...Chris Del Vecchio has been promoted to chief operating officer of MVP Health Care and senior advisor to the president and CEO, according to a press release from the insurer. Dawn Jablonski has been promoted to executive vice president, legal and government affairs and general counsel.

ACROSS THE RIVER — Senate Republican leader Tom Kean Jr. has yet to pick a side in the public controversy over Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey's OMNIA tiered health plans that has engulfed the Legislature. But on Wednesday night, he indicated his priority is to resolve the other major issue facing hospitals and insurers: the so-called “Out-of-Network” bill.

IN FLORIDA — The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a key group of people harmed by smoking can sue tobacco companies for punitive damages in a decision that could result in millions of dollars for thousands of plaintiffs. The ruling stems from a 1994 suit filed by Miami Beach pediatrician Dr. Howard Engle, who sued tobacco companies over his and other smokers' injuries. The case led to an award of $145 billion in punitive damages alone. POLITICO Florida’s Daniel Ducassi has more.

PHARMA REPORT — “Ever since Gilead Sciences grew flush with cash from selling hepatitis C treatments, the company signaled that cancer may be its next big bet. But there are fresh doubts now, thanks to a huge setback with a cancer drug and the departure of a key executive.” Ed Silverman for STAT has more:


-HOW MICHELLE OBAMA IS CHANGING THE FOOD INDUSTRY — The first lady's sophisticated and strategic campaign to change how Americans eat and exercise has set in motion a series of big changes that will prove difficult to reverse, if they're reversible at all. And in a new piece for POLITICO magazine, Darren Samuelsohn and Helena Bottemiller Evich found a still-evolving legacy that dovetails — by design — with the president's far more controversial accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act.

-FOLLOW THE MONEY ProPublica makes an important contribution to the debate over whether doctors who receive cash or perks from pharmaceutical companies can be easily influenced. The data indicates yes they can.

-COURT FIGHT — The Wall Street Journal examines the Affordable Care Act case set to come before the U.S. Supreme Court next week.

-GETTING AROUND — The New York Times reports that our ancestors mated with another species at least four times.

-PARTNERSHIP — Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc’s OptumRx have formed a partnership. Under the deal, OptumRx, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, manages prescription drug insurance for more than 66 million people, will charge its customers less for certain drugs if patients fill their prescriptions at Walgreens stores instead of other pharmacies.

-SETTLED — A jury in Dallas on Thursday awarded five people a combined $500 million after they claimed to suffer from physical problems from receiving a certain type of hip implant that was manufactured by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

-WILL IT WORK? — Britain’s government this week introduced a tax on sugary beverages in the hopes of curbing childhood obesity. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who attempted and failed to impose a similar tax, said the policy “put the UK at the forefront of the global fight to reduce obesity and diabetes.” But will it actually work? Vox explains that because there are so few cities or counties doing the tax, it’s hard to tell.

-WHO’S TO BLAME? — According to a STAT-Harvard poll, 37 percent of respondents say people who take prescription painkillers are responsible for the opioid crisis. Thirty-four percent blame doctors who inappropriately prescribe painkillers, while 10 percent think pharmaceutical companies are responsible for the opioid problem.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from Northwell Health. If you want to feel fuller sooner, each more protein rich foods.


-AVOIDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT — Researchers at the University of Exeter found that female animals are usually less colorful and decorated than their male counterparts possibly to avoid sexual harassment.

** 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: 3/17, 3/16, 3/15, 3/14, 3/11

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