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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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll set you up for trial access.
written by Josefa Velasquez
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING — City Comptroller Scott Stringer subpoenaed the de Blasio administration for documents related to lifting deed restrictions on a Manhattan building, netting the owner, a private nursing home operator, $72 million in profit. City Hall has complied with the subpoena and turned over all documents the comptroller is seeking, a spokeswoman said. http://politi.co/1WMZTnf
RISK-BASED CONTRACTS — EmblemHealth will announce Friday a new contract with Northwell Health, which moves the state’s largest private health provider down the path of risk-based contracts, the type so favored by state policymakers and beloved by insurance executives. The specifics of the contract are closely guarded but what is known is that this will be a two-year contract covering roughly 170,000 Emblem members. http://politi.co/1T8vAs0
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NEW TB CASES HIT RECORD LOW — The number of new tuberculosis cases in New York City fell to 577 last year, a new low, according to a report from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. There were, however, 104 American-born New Yorkers who contracted TB, up from 87 in 2014, the first time that number has increased since 1992. It was not immediately clear why that number shot up and the health department is considering several theories, including the possibility that children contracted TB while traveling overseas to visit relatives, or those relatives brought TB with them when visiting children in the city. http://politi.co/1pAPCj1
...The Journal New reports: “Several students at two Nyack schools were exposed to a person with infectious tuberculosis, Rockland health officials told parents Wednesday. All students who were exposed to the infected person at Nyack Middle and Liberty Elementary schools have been identified and given information about TB testing, according to a letter from Dr. Anil Vaidian, an infectious disease expert and director of Disease Control & Prevention for the Rockland Department of Health.” http://lohud.us/1WMZh0W
NOW WE KNOW — If you suffer from road rage or tend to “snap,” you may have cat poop to blame. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, intermittent explosive disorder (IED) — which is defined as “recurrent, impulsive … outbursts” of anger has been linked to toxoplasmosis, a parasite commonly associated with cat feces. Twenty-two percent of people with IED tested positive. http://bit.ly/1UL6gJU
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RESTORING CUTS — With eight days until a state budget is due, the chancellor of the State University of New York and a union representing mostly college professors are pressing the Legislature to restore a proposed cut to SUNY hospitals floated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. As part of his executive budget proposal, Cuomo cut a state subsidy to SUNY hospitals from $88 million to $69 million. But the state Senate and Assembly, in their one-house budget proposals, restored the funding. http://politi.co/22yVhrI
ON THE RISE — With school districts’ ability to raise taxes limited in 2016-17, health care premiums are expected to rise 6 percent statewide, according to a New York State Association of School Business Officials report released Thursday. District spending on health care reached approximately $6 billion in 2015 — nearly 10 percent of total school spending, according to the report. Read the report here: http://politi.co/1UKvckF
FINANCES — Catholic Health Services of Long Island reported an $86 million operating gain for 2015, up from $62 million one year ago. Catholic Health Services is made up of Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, Mercy Medical Center, St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, St. Charles Hospital, St. Francis Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital, as well as a chain of nursing homes and continuing care facilities.
EXPANDING — Fidelis, one of the state’s largest insurers, is expanding, according to the Albany Business Review. http://bit.ly/1WMYGME
DON’T DO THAT — A Mount Sinai emergency room doctor who was charged with ejaculating on the face of a patient and sexually abusing three others told investigators he masturbated in a lounge at the hospital and semen may have accidentally transferred onto the woman’s face or blanket, according to court documents released Thursday. http://nydn.us/22ySZJm
MAKING ROUNDS — Jamie Arnold has been named the communications and marketing officer for Syracuse-based St. Joseph’s Health. He had previously served as the corporate communications manager at Welch Allyn in Skaneateles Falls, a medical diagnostic device company.
GRANT LAND — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded the GNYHA Foundation a Phase II award under the CMS Initiative to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations Among Nursing Facility Residents.
MERGERS — A report from United Hospital Fund examines the proposed mergers involving four of the nation's five largest health insurance companies — Anthem and Cigna and Aetna and Humana — and how they will affect New York’s health insurance market. “Although the market concentration issues are perhaps less critical in New York than in other states because of the size of the companies involved and their respective lines of business here, there are many other issues to consider as well, starting with whether to hold a public hearing.” Read the full report here: http://bit.ly/22yQl6b
ACROSS THE RIVER: The Medical Society of New Jersey filed an amicus brief Thursday in a lawsuit brought by a group of hospitals to reverse the state Department of Banking and Insurance’s decision to approve Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey’s OMNIA tiered health plans. “We filed this brief because we firmly believe physicians and patients deserve transparency about how tiering determinations are made,” Larry Downs, CEO of MSNJ, said in a statement. Read the brief here: http://politi.co/1MoBKTn
PHARMA REPORT: Valeant Pharmaceuticals, the company that makes Seconal — a drug commonly prescribed by physicians to aid patients who want to end their lives — doubled the drug’s price last year, just one month after California lawmakers proposed legalizing aid-in-dying. http://bit.ly/22yVbk2
-$200 MILLION FOR MERCK — A federal jury in California ordered Gilead Sciences Inc. to pay Merck & Co. and a partner $200 million for infringing two Merck patents in a case involving Gilead’s two blockbuster drugs for treating hepatitis C, according to The Wall Street Journal. http://on.wsj.com/1WMXA3E
-RULES OF THE ROAD — POLITICO reports: “The FDA today began laying out guidelines to help generic drug makers develop abuse-deterrent opioids. The agency will evaluate generic copies of branded drugs that are formulated to make the pills harder to crush, dissolve or otherwise abuse. But abuse-deterrent technology requires substantial investment, and the generic industry has been waiting for direction on how to get drugs approved.” The guidance: http://1.usa.gov/1LJv02w
WHAT WE’RE READING:
-BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT — Cutting government spending is bad, especially if it hurts seniors, retirees and union members. As POLITICO New York reported earlier this week, Sen. Chuck Schumer plans to meet with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell to lobby against proposed cuts to the Employer Group Waiver Plans, also known as EGWP (egg-whip). Now, Republicans are calling for the cuts to be scrapped. House Speaker Paul Ryan and five other leading Republicans are asking the Andy Slavitt, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to scrap planned cuts to Medicare Advantage's retiree plans. Read their letter: http://1.usa.gov/1S7i9Uk
-LATEST PREDICTIONS — In 2026, 15 million Americans will be eligible to receive Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. That means in 10 years, 69 million Americans will receive Medicaid benefits. http://1.usa.gov/1WMTBUz
...The report also said the Affordable Care Act will cost the federal government far less money over the next decade than the Congressional Budget Office had originally anticipated before the law's passage. Some of that is because of the slowdown in health care spending and because fewer people enrolled in the exchanges than was originally assumed. From 2016-19, the CBO now estimates that Obamacare's health insurance will cost $466 billion, a 25 percent reduction from the agency's original estimate. Six years ago, the CBO projected that the provisions of the law, related to health insurance, would cost $623 billion over that same time period.
-AN INTERESTING MODEL — Kaiser Health News reports: “Healthy Indiana pushes Medicaid’s traditional boundaries, which is why it has the attention of other conservative states. The plan demands something from all enrollees, even those below the poverty line. The poorest Hoosiers can get coverage with vision and even dental benefits, but only if they make small monthly contributions — ranging from $1 to $28 — to individual accounts similar to health savings accounts.” http://bit.ly/22yUBCG
-NFL CONCUSSION RESEARCH DEEPLY FLAWED — An investigation by The New York Times found the N.F.L.’s concussion research was far more flawed than previously known. http://nyti.ms/22yTz9Q
-REGRETS? HE’S HAD A FEW — Former U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, a member of the chamber’s Finance Committee when the Affordable Care Act was being negotiated, regrets prescription drug coverage isn’t part of Obamacare. http://bit.ly/22yU5ER
-TRACKING ZIKA — Brazilian and British researchers estimate a single traveler in the second half of 2013 brought Zika to the Americas. http://nyti.ms/22yUNBS
TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the Community Healthcare Network: “In order to maximize wellness and achieve a healthy work-life balance, remember to take time for yourself every day — even if it’s only for a few minutes. Read a book or magazine, watch your favorite TV show, or enjoy a bubble bath.” http://www.chnnyc.org/services/wellness
-WHAT’S THAT, YOU SAY? — Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center say mice lacking the PTCHD1 gene are more easily distracted, leading them to suspect this gene plays an outsized role in the brain’s ability to sort necessary sights and sounds from distractions, according to a press release from Langone. http://prn.to/1RzAEQS
-YIKES — Less than 3 percent of Americans meet the basic qualifications for a “healthy” lifestyle, a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found. http://theatln.tc/1UL4R65
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