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POLITICO New York Health Care: Budget deal; nursing homes investigated

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 newyork@politicopro.com and we'll set you up for trial access.

written by Dan Goldberg

THE BUDGET — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature reached a budget deal, and providers, payers and many health advocates are walking away satisfied, if not elated, with the health portion of this year’s state budget. http://politi.co/1N4j7PT

SHARE ME: Like this newsletter? Please tell a friend to sign up. Give them this link: http://politi.co/1gMLiJV

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

THE GAP — Significant racial disparities persist among New York City’s school-age children and young adults in educational outcomes, economic security, health and safety over the past 12 years, according to a new report set to be released by the de Blasio administration on Monday. http://politi.co/1UCokX0

NOW WE KNOW — Keeping weight off is hard, according to Joanna Huang, senior manager of health economics and outcomes research at Novo Nordisk Inc. in Plainsboro, N.J. He is the lead author on a paper that found most people lose, gain and maintain their weight inconsistently. http://bit.ly/1pXWwPD

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 dgoldberg@politico.com.


NURSING HOME INVESTIGATION
— A Rochester Democrat and Chronicle investigation found that more than one-third of nursing home violations cited by state Department of Health inspectors were for regulations that had been cited in previous routine or complaint inspections. http://on.rocne.ws/1pXTPNU

METS — The season got off to a rough start. Bruce Bukiet, an NJIT mathematical sciences professor and associate dean, published his projections for the 2016 season. Why should you take him seriously? Last year, he correctly predicted the Mets would make the playoffs. This year, he says the Mets win 98 games. http://bit.ly/1PPK8pU

…I see the Mets coming in at 94 wins this year. If you email me your favorite team and correctly predict their total regular season wins in 2016, you will win some serious bragging rights and a special, to-be-determined prize from POLITICO New York Health Care. Email me at dgoldberg@politico.com

Speaking of the Mets, lots of media had fun with Matt Harvey’s admission that he held it in too long, giving himself a bladder infection. Dr. Ash Tewari, the Chair of Urology for the Mount Sinai Health System, said this is no laughing matter, telling the Wall Street Journal that the longer you hold it in, the more time bacteria has a chance to infect the bladder. “Think about a pond versus a stream,” Tewari told the Journal. “A stream is less likely to have an infection, but a pond is more likely.” http://on.wsj.com/1PPKe0M

SO FAR, SO GOOD — Elmhurst Hospital, part of New York City Health + Hospitals, switched over to Epic’s management system this weekend. There had been reports that the switch would be a disaster on the scale of the Challenger, but CEO Ram Raju assured everyone those reports were overblown. It’s early, but so far, so good, according to Ian Michaels, a spokesman for Health + Hospitals, who released this statement. “We are pleased to announce that the first phase of the largest public health care system implementation of the new Epic electronic medical record system went live as planned. … This was an immense undertaking involving more than 8,000 users, 17 different Epic modules and 36 ancillary systems, including labs, blood bank, radiology and more. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely. We thank all the staff who participated in this crucial part of the public health system’s transformation, and we look forward to the benefits the new electronic medical record system will provide to our patients.”

GRANT LAND — New York has been awarded more than $9 million in funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration to support the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. The voluntary program, which is federally funded but locally managed, provides home visiting services for pregnant women and parents with young children up to kindergarten age in an effort to encourage healthy prenatal practices and preventive health measures.

WHY HE LEFT — The Palm Beach Sun Sentinel said the community would be lucky to have Dr. Robert Kelly as the CEO of Memorial Healthcare System. Kelly, you may remember, was president of New York-Presbyterian but left suddenly in September, without ever explaining why. The Sun Sentinel explained it was because he had an affair with a woman who, Kelly says, did not work at the hospital. http://bit.ly/1N4jjP1

MOTHERS’ MILK — Lenox Hill Hospital on Friday gave 28-week twins pasteurized donor human milk, the first recipients of what Lenox Hill hopes will become a standard of care for premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit. http://bit.ly/1PPJDfs

FINANCES — Buffalo Business First reports: “For the second consecutive year, Independent Health is reporting operating losses tied to financial pressures from government health programs. The Williamsville-based insurer, which filed financial data with the state Department of Financial Services late Thursday, ended 2015 with a $44 million loss on premium revenue of $2 billion, including operating losses of $49.4 million. That’s compared to 2014, when the company ended the year with a $60 million deficit on premium revenue of $1.8 billion.” http://bit.ly/1pXW2Jc

SCHOLARSHIP — Applications are now being accepted for the Ruth and William O. Sass Scholarship to encourage excellence in the field of nursing. http://bit.ly/1MMh205

ACROSS THE RIVER: Atlantic Health System's acquisition of Hackettstown Regional Medical Center was completed on Friday, more than two years after the agreement was first announced. The hospital, which is now dropping “Regional” from its name, was previously owned by Maryland-based Adventist HealthCare.

PHARMA REPORT: Monday morning’s must read is a long story from the Huffington Post about how drugs we don’t need for problems we don’t have are marketed in the United States. The lede, about Belsomra, a sleep drug from Merck, is telling. “During the drug’s development, Merck had suggested that it could treat insomnia more effectively and produce fewer side effects than existing medications. In 2012, one Merck scientist described the science underlying Belsomra as a ‘sea change.’ But when [federal regulators] scrutinized data from the company’s own large-scale clinical trials, what they found was a lot less impressive.” http://huff.to/1pXVO4W

WHAT WE’RE READING:


-THE TAMPON OF THE FUTURE
— The New York Times examines a novel idea for collecting blood samples from women without using needles. “In 2014, an engineer at Harvard named Ridhi Tariyal hit on a far simpler workaround. Together with her business partner, Stephen Gire, she has patented a method for capturing menstrual flow and transforming it into medical samples. ‘There’s lots of information in there,’ Ms. Tariyal said, ‘but right now, it’s all going in the trash.’” http://nyti.ms/1pXV4g2

-THE SALT WARS — POLITICO reports on the Obama administration’s last big food fight. Voluntary targets for how much sodium should be in processed foods, from soup to potato chips, are expected to be released as early as this summer, current and former administration officials tell POLITICO. “Reducing salt consumption has long been part of the administration's push to get Americans to eat healthier. But a plan to nudge food companies to take steps to voluntarily reduce sodium in their products, launched seven years ago, has been stalled amid concerns about political blowback and new studies questioning whether salt is actually a pressing health threat. Most of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed foods.

One former top FDA official said he believes a lawsuit brought by a consumer advocacy group will finally shake loose the voluntary targets that were completed two years ago but have never been released. The FDA agreed in February to respond by June 1 to the petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.”


...Remember, the New York State appellate court
is currently considering whether the city health department’s rule requiring chain restaurants to post a warning regarding menu items that contain more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium is legal. One factor they will consider is whether the science is in dispute.

-VACCINE WARS — A court in Kansas ruled that a woman who refused a flu vaccine may be denied unemployment benefits. http://bit.ly/1pXU1wy

-MERGER APPROVED —POLITICO reports: “Florida regulators have given their blessing to Anthem's $54 billion acquisition of Cigna with minimal strings attached. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation determined the companies aren't dominant players in the state and their merger would not significantly reduce competition. The agency did express concern that Anthem's licensing agreement with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which requires that at least two-thirds of its national business are Blue-branded plans, could eventually limit the growth of Cigna-branded plans in the state. But Florida imposed only minor requirements on Anthem. Most notably, the company must pledge to enhance its information security protections and notify the office within five days of any breach. Last year, Anthem was victimized by a cyberattack that exposed information of more than 70 million customers. The consent order: http://bit.ly/1SsfG7j

-COUNTERINTUITIVE — The New York Times asks if drugs are too cheap. http://nyti.ms/1Vg6ho4

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the Cleveland Clinic, which offers us “five things you should know about painful toe deformities.” http://cle.clinic/1MzcVUW

STUDY THIS:

-STEM PROBLEMS — Women with a preference for more intelligent partners are less likely to show interest in male-dominated fields such as math and science, according to researchers from the University at Buffalo, writing in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. http://bit.ly/1pXPlXA

-BREAST CANCER HOPE – The NYU Tandon School of Engineering created a molecule that delivers cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents. Think of this like a guided missile for a tumor. The protein composite is filled with drugs then delivered to malignant cells, according to a press release accompanying the article. http://bit.ly/1pXQ5vT

-THE BIGGER PROBLEM — A new study suggests that the mental, emotional and cognitive challenges faced by some former football players aren’t solely attributable to concussions, according to the Washington Post. http://wapo.st/1pXUhf7

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 4/1, 3/31, 3/30, 3/29, 3/28

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