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POLITICO New York Health Care, presented by New York's Hospitals and Doctors: AIDS activists in Albany; K2 decline

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written by Dan Goldberg

CAPITOL PUSH — HIV/AIDS activists returned to the Capitol on Tuesday, asking for $50 million from a $2 billion pot of money for affordable housing to create a rental assistance program for homeless HIV-positive individuals and those who have unstable housing.

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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

SUCCESS STORY The de Blasio administration on Tuesday heralded its strategy to combat K2 and other synthetic marijuana after an 85-percent reduction in emergency room visits since the peak of the epidemic in July.

NOW WE KNOW — Researchers from Cornell University looked at the science of the retweet, and found that sharing someone else’s idea interferes with learning and retaining what you've just seen, according to an article in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

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

** A message from New York’s Hospitals and Doctors: New York is home to many of the world’s finest doctors and hospitals, but they spend billions annually on medical malpractice costs—by far the nation’s highest. Let’s make sure Albany doesn’t make things worse by passing bills that will raise those costs even higher and damage patient care. Learn more at **

THE SODA TAX PROBLEM — The Wall Street Journal reports that sales of soda in Mexico have rebounded two years after the nation imposed a 10-percent tax on sugary drinks.

...On Twitter, I asked Tom Farley, former New York City health commissioner and current Philadelphia health commissioner, his thoughts. He responded: “Need better data. The graph is on soda without differentiating sugar and diet, and it doesn’t include non-carbonated.”

SPEAKING OF PHILADELPHIA — My onetime colleague Julia Terruso reports that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is backing a campaign to pass a sugary-drinks tax in Philadelphia, contributing to the pro-tax nonprofit Philadelphians for a Fair Future.

STRANGE SENSATIONS — The Food and Drug Administration warned that Abilify, an antipsychotic, may cause uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop and have sex. … So it’s kind of like being a teenager.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Thomas W. Faist, registered lobbyist, and founder and principal of Faist Government Affairs Group, LLC.

OPINION — Errol Louis in the Daily News criticizes Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan for New York City Health + Hospitals.

FOOD DESERT MYTH — City Journal looks at the City Council’s $5 million farm-subsidy proposal, and wonders if it is really necessary.

THE LATEST OVERDOSE CONCERN — The Syracuse Post-Standard reports: “An increasing number of drug addicts looking to get high or manage withdrawal symptoms are abusing an over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medication with sometimes deadly results.”

CONSOLIDATION CORNER — Buffalo Business First reports: “Two of the region’s largest behavioral health providers are merging, creating a $33 million organization prepared to treat mental illness from childhood through the entire life cycle. The merger brings together Lake Shore Behavioral Health with Child & Adolescent Treatment Services to create a new organization, as yet unnamed, that will provide services in three counties.”

MAKING ROUNDS Roswell Park Cancer Institute will name its new $50 million Clinical Science Center after one of its longtime supporters, Scott Bieler, who made an undisclosed donation, Buffalo Business First reported Tuesday. The 11-story center is set to open later this month and will be Roswell’s first clinical expansion in 18 years.

ACROSS THE RIVER: Prime Healthcare Services announced Tuesday that Robert Iannaccone has been appointed the new CEO of Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, the same day the California-based for-profit hospital chain completed its acquisition of the hospital.

…A lawsuit concerning elevated lead levels in the Newark Public Schools’ drinking water was filed in federal court Tuesday, according to an attorney for the plaintiffs.

PHARMA REPORT: STAT wants to know what Purdue is hiding. “Purdue Pharma LP, the maker of the prescription pain killer OxyContin, filed its opposition Monday to an effort by STAT to unseal documents related to how the company marketed its powerful opioid medication”


-IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING — Check out Bloomberg’s piece on the blues singer who created America’s hated drug model. “If you are asking me if I am ashamed of what I am doing, not at all, I am damn proud of it,” he says. "I would rather have these apparently costly drugs and keep people alive than not have them.”

-SCARY STUFF — Kaiser Health News reports: “At some hospitals, posters on the wall in the emergency department list the drugs that are in short supply or unavailable, along with recommended alternatives.

The low-tech visual aid can save time with critically ill patients, allowing doctors to focus on caring for them rather than doing research on the fly, said Dr. Jesse Pines, a professor of emergency medicine and director of the Office for Clinical Practice Innovation at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, who has studied the problems with shortages. The need for such workarounds probably won’t end anytime soon.”

-NORTHERN EXPOSURE — The Alaska Dispatch News reports: “Moda Health will exit Alaska's individual insurance market next year, the company announced Monday, leaving only one health insurance provider in the state's market that, so far, has been defined by drastic annual rate increases for consumers and big losses for insurance companies.”

-FOREIGN MONEY — Foreign investors angling for a green card are pouring money into a new industry: drug rehab and psychiatric clinics. Interesting read from the Boston Globe:

-DON’T DO THAT — Gainesville physician Ona M. Colasante could face up to life in prison after being convicted Monday of 162 counts of health care fraud. According to federal prosecutors, Colasante fraudulently billed patients for services they didn’t receive, like smoking-cessation treatments for patients who weren’t smokers.

-BASEBALL’S BUG PROBLEM — Yahoo is reporting that Major League Baseball is considering cancelling a series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Miami Marlins, set to take place in Puerto Rico, because of Zika concerns.

-WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT THIS JOB — Why would anyone want to be Detroit’s health commissioner? STAT has the answer in this fascinating profile.

-WRONGLY PLACED — South Dakota has been placing residents in nursing homes even when they don’t need to be there, according to The New York Times. “In a scathing rebuke of the state’s health care system, the Justice Department said on Monday that thousands of patients were being held unnecessarily in sterile, highly restrictive group homes. That is discrimination, it said, making South Dakota the latest target of a federal effort to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities and mental illnesses, outlined in a Supreme Court decision 17 years ago.”

-IN CASE YOU MISSED IT — The Wall Street Journal tells the tale of a scarred soldier who travels to Peru to see if ayahuasca can help relieve his mental stress. “Scientists say that ayahuasca — which is legal in Peru and neighboring countries — activates parts of the brain that make it possible to recall deep-rooted memories, increasing self-awareness and offering a chance to reassess past ordeals. Proponents say that it can provide users with spiritual and personal guidance. Others report that it has allowed them to overcome traumas that conventional therapy and antidepressants haven’t cured.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from Community Healthcare Network: “May is mental health awareness month. To keep your mind healthy, make sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night, eat healthy, stay physically and mentally active and don't be afraid to discuss symptoms of anxiety and depression with your medical provider.”


-ORIGIN STORY — SUNY Downstate Medical Center researchers identified a brain receptor which they believe initiates adolescent synaptic pruning. This pruning is necessary for learning but fails in those diagnosed with both autism and schizophrenia, according to the study published in eLife.

-TOO MANY ANTIBIOTICS — POLITICO reports: “About 30 percent of outpatient antibiotics prescriptions in the United States may be inappropriate, a new CDC study finds. This means the country will need to reduce its overall antibiotic use by 15 percent to meet the White House's goal of reducing inappropriate outpatient antibiotic use by 50 percent by 2020.”

** A message from New York’s Hospitals and Doctors: Everyone agrees: New York’s hospitals and doctors deliver world-class patient care. But out-of-control medical malpractice costs that are by far the nation’s highest are stark proof of a deeply flawed system. Let’s make sure Albany doesn’t make things worse with harmful, misguided legislation. Join us in urging the New York State Legislature to reject any bills that would raise medical malpractice costs even higher and weaken the ability of doctors and hospitals to deliver high-quality care. **

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 5/3, 5/2, 4/29, 4/28, 4/27

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