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POLITICO New York Health Care: The shifting medical malpractice market; PRI details

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written by Dan Goldberg

THE CHANGING MARKET — New York State’s medical malpractice market is undergoing a paradigm shift as local players struggle to compete with out-of-state companies taking advantage of a Reagan-era law to gobble up market share, causing concern among legislators, regulators, attorneys and the Cuomo administration.The upheaval may leave physicians far more exposed to — and in some cases personally liable for — malpractice claims than they might realize, and lead to increases in insurance rates that are passed onto patients. The tenuous finances of Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers, or PRI, the second-largest carrier in the state, is further undermining the fragile market. PRI, which has a negative surplus of $138 million, was implicated in a federal corruption case and is now considering a sale to a California-based company. Please read my investigation of the medical malpractice market in New York and how the growth of Risk Retention Groups threatens to undermine the state’s traditional safety net.

ANOTHER PRI STORY — The Albany Times-Union also examined PRI and found this nugget. “If PRI were to collapse, a deal involving three Bonomo-run companies means $8 million would go back to a Bonomo-owned real estate company — a sum that would be paid by PRI.”

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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

RIVINGTON DEAL — “No one testified on nursing home at public meeting, records show,” by Sally Goldenberg and Laura Nahmias:

-- “Schneiderman openes investigation into another Allure Group sale,” Sally Goldenberg and Laura Nahmias:

NOW WE KNOW — An article in Clinical Anatomy reports that differences in physiology explain why some individuals experience orgasms more successfully than others.

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

STICKER SHOCK — The Syracuse Post Standard writes about a patient shocked to discover the cost of medical marijuana.

GETTING BIGGER — Buffalo Business First reports: “In its second affiliation deal in a month, Kaleida Health announced Friday that Eastern Niagara Hospital will affiliate into the $1.2 billion system.”

OBITUARY — Dr. Charles Hirsch, who oversaw the city medical examiner’s office as it worked to identify the remains of 9/11 victims, died Friday. He was 79. Hirsch led the medical examiner’s office from 1989 until 2013, “turning the OCME into a national leader in forensic pathology,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday.

The New York Times reports: “Yvette Fay Francis-McBarnette, a Jamaican-born medical pioneer in treating children with sickle cell anemia, died on March 28 in Alexandria, Va. She was 89. … Raised in Harlem, she enrolled in Hunter College when she was 14, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physics in three-and-a-half years. Deemed too young for medical school or even a laboratory job, she earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Columbia University instead. In 1946, when she was 19, she became the second black woman to enroll at the Yale School of Medicine.”

MAKING ROUNDS — Dr. W. Gordon Frankle, a schizophrenia expert, has been named chief of the Psychiatric Service at NYU Lutheran Medical Center, according to a press release from Langone. He will begin Sept. 1 and will oversee NYU Lutheran’s inpatient, outpatient and emergency psychiatric and behavioral health services. Frankle had been working for the last six years at the Rutland Regional Medical Center in Vermont, where he was chief of psychiatry.

ACROSS THE RIVER: New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace introduced a bill Thursday to expand the qualifying conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program to include dysmenorrhea, or painful menstrual cramps, if a patient does not respond to conventional medical therapy. POLITICO New Jersey’s Katie Jennings has more:

PHARMA REPORT: Theranos appears to have once again overhyped, according to an article in Forbes, which picks apart the company’s latest press release.

-NOT KOSHER — The Wall Street Journal reports: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday moved to withdraw its approval of a drug used to treat pigs because of concerns that it could leave traces of a cancerous residue in pork.”

-CONTEMPT — The Senate Aging Committee will consider holding Valeant Pharmaceuticals CEO Michael Pearson in contempt for flouting a subpoena to appear at a committee deposition Friday.


-DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS — The New York Times has a smart piece on how smaller mergers, which don’t attract regulatory attention, are impacting the U.S. healthcare system. “The deals are often for a couple of doctors here, or a hospital there, making them too small to attract much attention. But as those deals add up, they are creating groups that in some cases dominate local or regional markets. And they are raising questions about whether the gaze of antitrust officials is directed in the right place.”

-OBAMACARE UPDATE — UnitedHealth Group is pulling out of the exchanges in Georgia and Arkansas in 2017, POLITICO reported. UnitedHealth Group has a limited presence in Arkansas. Just 544 exchange customers were enrolled in the company's plans as of April 1 — or roughly 1 percent of total enrollment, according to the state's insurance department. A spokesman for Georgia's Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner said it wasn't known how many exchange customers are currently enrolled in UnitedHealth plans.

-GETTING AROUND OBAMACARE — Sales of short-term health insurance are up sharply since the health law’s major provisions took effect in 2014, according to insurance agencies, The Wall Street Journal reports.

-THE SURGEON GENERAL AND THE BULLY PULPIT — Vivek Murthy started his tenure as U.S. Surgeon General tackling typical themes — telling people to eat right, stay fit and not smoke. He even made a video with Elmo to promote childhood vaccines. Yet, over the last few months, Murthy has become a more visible figure as he speaks out in Washington and takes his message on the road to communities hard hit by the related double whammies of opioid and heroin use.

-THE WRONG BABY — A Washington Post columnist tells the story of how her newborn got lost in the hospital. What’s so frightening is how low-tech the procedures for matching mom to baby seem to be.

-COFFEE TALK — Gov. Rick Scott’s political shop, which has long handled his public messaging, was on the attack after video of a former city commissioner shouting him down in a Gainesville Starbucks went viral. While getting coffee last week, former Lake Worth city commissioner Cara Jennings took the chance to express her anger with Scott over health care issues. “You cut Medicaid, so I couldn’t get Obamacare,” she shouted. “You’re an asshole.” To hit back, Scott’s political committee — called Let’s Get to Work — released a one-minute ad Friday that highlights a 2010 Palm Beach Post profile's characterization of Jennings as an anarchist and its claim that while she was a city commissioner, she would stand for the Pledge of Allegiance but not recite the words. POLITICO Florida’s Christine Sexton has more:

-THE DRUGGED SOLDIERS — The Atlantic has a piece on how the U.S. Army supplied speed and steroids to soldiers during the Vietnam War.

-ANOTHER EXPLANATION — The Associated Press reports: “MedStar Health Inc. said Wednesday that hackers who seriously disrupted its operations and held some data hostage did not exploit software vulnerabilities that were the subjects of warnings in 2007 and 2010 to break into its corporate network.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the Cleveland Clinic: “Before you go to bed think exclusively about the good things in your day and in your life to stress less and boost happiness.”


-DIABETES AND CANCER — Post-menopausal women who use metformin for diabetes may be at lower risk for certain cancers, according to a study from researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University at Buffalo, who published their findings in the International Journal of Cancer.

-TROUBLE IN THE MOUSE HOUSE — STAT reports: “The Walt Disney Company urged an academic journal to withdraw a nutritional study of children’s meals at Disney World last fall — a study it had funded — amid a public backlash over corporate involvement in scientific research, according to newly obtained emails.”

-MONKEY MALARIA Monkey malaria is just a few steps away from becoming a major human disease, according to a story from NPR.

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 4/8, 4/7, 4/6, 4/5, 4/4

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