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POLITICO New York Health Care: Layoffs at EmblemHealth; Wrynn eyes Florida post

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

EMBLEMHEALTH — EmblemHealth will lay off 250 employees, roughly 8 percent of its workforce, because of the insurer’s decision to change its IT provider, CEO Karen Ignagni said. The insurer, in the midst of a financial turnaround, is contracting with Trizetto, a subsidiary of Cognizant, which will replace its current IT platform, Cobal. That, Ignagni said, will create more opportunities for timely and efficient data processing but it will also automate much of the work done by current employees. In response to the layoffs, employees are planning a silent protest outside EmblemHealth’s New York City offices on Wednesday, said Sara Blackwell, a Sarasota, Florida, attorney who has made headlines representing laid off worked replaced by Cognizant. Read my story here:

SNOW BIRD James Joseph Wrynn, New York's 40th — and last — superintendent of insurance is thinking about leaving New York for Florida.

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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

OPEN WIDE — Touro College and University System announced Tuesday it has received final approval from the state to open New York's first new dental school in nearly half-a-century.

NOW WE KNOW — Researchers at the University of Bath have developed a miniature fuel cell that can generate electricity from urine, according to an article in Electrochimica Acta.

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

CONTRACTING The city's health department plans to contract with Cribs for Kids to provide cribs and educational material to new mothers as part of the department's "safe sleeping" campaign, according to a posting in the City Record.

DON’T DO THAT — A nurse charged with professional misconduct after stealing prescription painkillers from an Onondaga Hill nursing home has been fined $500 by the state, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

WHAT NEW YORK VALUES — In Tuesday’s newsletter, I mentioned that 3D bioprinting was the winner of a $100,000 prize in a Northwell Health innovation contest. The project received 487,761 votes, which means it outpolled both John Kasich and Ted Cruz.

REAL ESTATE NEWS — Bronx-Lebanon Hospital has a $17 million deal in the works to sell Highbridge Woodycrest Center, its 90-bed nursing home for patients with AIDS, to a for-profit company, according to Crain’s.

PHARMA REPORT: Express Scripts is countersuing Anthem, according to the Wall Street Journal.


-CIGAR AFICIONADOS — Last week, I mention that House appropriators wanted to block the Food and Drug Administration from implementing its “deeming” rule to regulate tobacco products unless the agency exempted cigars. A few readers wrote that that sounded a bit absurd. Well, health groups agree as 31 of them, including the American Medical Association, the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, say they strongly oppose the measure, according to POLITICO. Read the letter:

...Congress wasn’t swayed. The House Appropriations Committee voted, 31-19, Tuesday to exempt e-cigarettes and other vapor products on the market from FDA regulation while requiring advertising and labeling aimed at keeping the stuff out of the hands of children, POLITICO’s Sarah Karlin-Smith reports. “The rule grandfathers cigars, little cigars, hookahs and other unregulated tobacco products.”

-ZIKA — The House appropriations committee approved a $21.3 billion FDA-agricultural bill, rejecting attempts by Democrats to include the White House's request for $1.9 billion in new Zika funding and killing Democratic bids to remove FDA-focused policy riders, according to POLITICO.

-SPOILED MILK — Remember that University of Maryland press release that said chocolate milk could help with a concussion? Well, it turns out the company peddling the product wanted its press release timed with the Will Smith movie “Concussion, " according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.

-UNITED WE FALL — United Health, the nation's largest health insurer is significantly cutting back its Obamacare business and will sell plans in only "a handful" of state exchanges in 2017, its CEO said on a call with investors Tuesday morning.

...Does this matter? Maybe. Depends on which state.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from NYU Langone Medical Center: “A heightened sense of smell can be an early sign of pregnancy.”


-BIG MOUTH — Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center say the bacteria in your mouth may be associated with an increased risk for pancreatic cancer. They say a mouth with Porphyromonas gingivalis had a 59 percent greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer than those whose mouths did not have that bacteria.

-BAD ACTORS — Arthur Caplan, an ethicist at NYU Langone Medical Center and Barron Lerner, a medical historian at NYU, wrote a paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine asking why the conductors of odious human experiments did what they did.

-A GOOD NEWS STORY — Canadian researchers, writing in Urology, say circumcision does not reduce the sensitivity of the penis, according to The New York Times.

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 4/19, 4/18, 4/15, 4/14, 4/13

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