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POLITICO New York Health Care: Budget agreements; no smoking

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 Dan Goldberg and Josefa Velasquez

BUDGET AGREEMENT REACHED —The state budget appears nearly complete. Here are some health highlights:

-PAID FAMILY LEAVE — Gov. Andrew Cuomo late Thursday announced a “final agreement” on the state budget that includes a proposal for 12-weeks of employee funded paid family leave, making it the most expansive program in the country.

-RETIREE HEALTH CHANGES DROPPED — The Albany Times Union reports: “A measure that would have raised state and other public employee retiree health care insurance costs has fallen out of the budget. The move, which also would have forced many public employees to consider retiring this fall in order to avoid the higher costs, would have increased the share of premiums paid by retirees.”

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NO SMOKING — The state’s highest court unanimously upheld a ban on smoking in state parks Thursday, affirming that the state has the authority to curb individual behaviors that have potential harmful impacts on others.

NOW WE KNOW — Today is April Fool’s Day. Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day. Later this month, we will celebrate Bicycle Day, Fashion Revolution Day and Parental Alienation Awareness Day. (Your dad probably won’t get you anything.) Some awareness days are obviously more serious than others, but do any of these days make a difference? Well, researchers at San Diego State University said that at least one day works. The Great American Smokeout coincides with a 61 percent increase in news reports on smoking cessation and a 13 percent increase in tweets encouraging cessation, according to the researchers. The impact of other days has not yet been studied by scientists. "More must be done to evaluate and improve awareness days," Professor John W. Ayers, said in a press release accompanying the article.

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BUNDLES OF JOY — An orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center recently had an epiphany. For 25 years, he had taken an X-ray of his patients following surgery. That's what he'd been taught to do. But he came to realize the X-rays weren't really affecting any clinical decisions. So, he wondered, why was he doing them? Re-thinking what had become rote was part of a larger Langone effort that began in 2013 when the medical center signed up for the Bundled Payment Care Initiative, a Medicare payment model that pays a set price for hip or knee replacement surgeries as well as up to 90 days of rehab.

DE BLASIO CREATION — Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order establishing the Mental Health Council, which will coordinate efforts to confront mental health challenges across several agencies. The council will be led by Deputy Mayor Richard Buery and First Lady Chirlane McCray, whose ThriveNYC plan has become the focal point of the administration’s efforts to raise the level awareness of mental health problems, reduce their stigma and, ultimately, make it easier for New Yorkers to find and receive city services. The rest of the council, which serves as an advisory group to the mayor, will be made up of 20 members from different city agencies.

FINANCES — Mount Sinai Hospital reported an operating gain of $105 million for 2015, a 33 percent increase from 2014. Revenue reached $2.1 billion, according to the most recently released financial report, with roughly 69 percent of that coming from inpatient services.

ZUCKER AND ZIKA — State health commissioner Howard Zucker will lead a team of state and local health officials to a federal Zika Action Plan Summit today in Atlanta, the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

MAKING ROUNDS — OmniSeq, a Roswell Park Cancer Institute spinoff company, has appointed Mark Gardner as chief executive officer. He is currently the vice president and general manager of Thermo Fisher’s Next Generation Clinical Sequencing business.

ACROSS THE RIVER — The merger of Barnabas Health and Robert Wood Johnson Health System was completed on Thursday, creating the largest health system in the state. RWJBarnabas Health estimates it will reach around 5 million of the state’s 9 million residents, according to a news release. The combined system includes 11 of the state’s 71 acute care hospitals, as well as children’s hospitals, ambulatory care centers, and home care and hospice programs, among others.

...Eight more Newark Public Schools facilities were found to have water with elevated lead levels, according to new test results released Thursday. The “non-traditional” facilities included in the latest round of testing hadn’t been evaluated previously and include buildings leased to charter schools, a transportation hub, a student center and athletic facilities. View the latest results here:

PHARMA REPORT: GlaxoSmithKline will stop seeking patents for its drugs in low-income countries.

-FOR THE RECORD — The Food and Drug Administration is recommending that biosimilar labels include a statement that the product is a near copy of a branded biologic medicine, POLITICO reports. Read the guidance here:


-TRACKING ZIKA — The Washington Post reports: “In several Latin American nations hit hard by the Zika epidemic, the transmission of the virus appears to have peaked, with the number of infections declining in recent weeks, according to governments in the region and the latest World Health Organization data. The slowdown has prompted some countries, including Colombia, to significantly scale back their projections of the impact of the virus.”

-IT MIGHT BE WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT — STAT News says the mosquito that carries the Zika virus could extend farther into the United States than previously thought. “The revised estimates, based on a newly released map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggest a far larger US population than previously believed could be exposed to the virus when mosquito season ramps up.” Those new projections mean New York City could see some of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

-FECKLESS CONGRESS — Nicholas Bagley turned me on to this article from Foreign Policy explaining why Zika is much more serious than our elected officials may realize.

-THERANOS DEVICES FAILED — The blood testing devices that Theranos used regularly failed to meet the company’s own accuracy requirements for a series of tests, according to an inspection report commissioned by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Wall Street Journal reports that CMS “deemed the company’s plan inadequate and plans to impose sanctions against Theranos, according to people familiar with the matter. In January, the agency said the punishment could range from fines to suspending or revoking the lab’s certification to legally test human samples.”

-ANOTHER OUTBREAK — STAT News explains why the next crisis might be Yellow Fever.

-THE OBAMACARE SHUFFLE — POLITICO reports: “Just 3.2 million of the 9.6 million customers on in 2016 picked the same plan as last year, according to a new analysis from Avalere Health. Another 2.4 million shoppers switched to a new plan through the federal enrollment portal, and 4 million enrollees were new to the market. It's the second straight year in which only one-third of exchange customers kept their plan.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from Dr. Donna-Marie Manasseh, director of breast surgery at the Maimonides Breast Cancer Center in Brooklyn. “There is so much misinformation about breast health and disease. Don’t let yourself be fooled by these 11 breast cancer myths.”


-SUPERBUGS — One in four seniors is taking home a superbug after a hospital stay, researchers at the University of Michigan Health System found. According to the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, seniors who go to a nursing home or a post-acute care facility will acquire new superbugs during their stay.

-OPIOID PLAN — A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that an extended-release version of Vivtrol prevented relapses in men. “We believe our study is the first of its kind to look at the real-world effectiveness of extended-release naltrexone in community settings,” lead author Dr. Joshua D. Lee, associate professor in the Departments of Population Health and Medicine at NYU Langone, said in a press release accompanying the article. “It may be particularly effective with populations, such as recently released prisoners, who typically don’t have access to other evidence-based daily medications for opiate disorders, like methadone or buprenorphine.”

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 3/31, 3/30, 3/29, 3/28, 3/25,

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