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POLITICO New York Health Care: Calling on the FDA; Cuomo moves on health legislation

11/30/2016 10:00 AM EDT

Good morning! You are reading a complimentary synopsis of the POLITICO New York Pro Health Care newsletter. Pro subscribers receive a premium version of this newsletter, which includes an enhanced look-ahead and robust analysis of the health care news driving the day, weekdays at 5:45 a.m. Contact us here to learn more.

written by Dan Goldberg

DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION URGES FDA TO CHANGE BLOOD DONOR POLICY - The de Blasio administration on Wednesday will call on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to eliminate its policy of prohibiting men who have had sex with men during the past 12 months from donating blood, making New York City the largest municipality in the country to urge the FDA to end what many feel is a discriminatory practice. "The FDA's current recommendation ... does not comport with current evidence," Dr. Mary Bassett, city health commissioner, wrote in a letter that will be submitted to the FDA on Wednesday. "The policy unnecessarily stigmatizes all sexually active gay and bisexual men." In its place, Bassett would like to see a three-step process that she says would ensure the safety of the blood supply without singling out men who have sex with men. Bassett's wants the FDA to screen all donors, regardless of sexual orientation, for certain practices, including syringe use and sexually risky behavior. The second step would be offering on-site HIV testing to those who have had sex without condoms within the past six months. The third step would be nucleic acid-based testing of donated blood for pathogens, including HIV. Read my story here: Read Bassett's letter here:

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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

LOT OF LAWS - Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday vetoed several pieces of health care legislation, including a bipartisan bill sponsored by state Sen. Kemp Hannon that would have required the state's Medicaid program to pay for donor breast milk. Read Cuomo's veto messages here: (0) Read Cuomo's approvals here: (0)

NOW WE KNOW - If you are a married man who doesn't volunteer his time to those less fortunate, you can now blame your wife, and tell her that's science. According to a study from Baylor University, women who have a romantic view of marriage, the idea of a true soulmate, are less likely to do volunteer work, which means their husbands volunteer less.

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

HISTORIC LOW - The number of new HIV infections in New York City has fallen by more than 30 percent over the last five years, bringing the state closer to declaring an end to the epidemic. It's a pronouncement that might have seemed fantastical at the beginning of the century, but one that is now within reach. Read my story here: Read the surveilance report here:

NYSNA SNARK - The New York State Nurses Association is hosting a bake sale for patient care. The union tweeted: "@MontefioreNYC says there's 'no $$ in the budget' to address concerning conditions that put Bronx patients at risk. Time to get creative!" The accompanying flier complains of overcrowding and hallway beds, an issue I wrote about during the summer. See the tweet. See my summer story.


-Northwell Health said it might reconsider having CareConnect participate in the insurance market if there isn't a change to the federal risk adjustment program, which moves money from insurers with less-healthy customers to those with healthier customers. The statement came in the Long Island-based health system's most recently released financial report, which showed Northwell had an operating income gain of $84.1 million during the first nine months of 2016, a 3 percent gain over the same period last year. Read the report here: (0)

-NYU Hospitals Center reported a $278.4 million operating gain for the 12 months ending Aug. 31, an 18 percent jump from the prior year, according to its most recently reported financial statements. Read the financial report here: (0)

-Winthrop-University Hospital reported an operating gain of $13.9 million through the first nine months of 2016, according to its most recently released financial report. Read the report here:

TELEMEDICINE - Starting next year, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield will be offering all of their privately insured and Medicare Advantage members MDLIVE, a telemedicine platform, the health plan announced Tuesday.

TRANSGENDER MEDICINE - Metropolitan Hospital will now perform gender-affirming surgeries and provide increased access to hormone therapy, the city's public hospital system announced Tuesday. Metropolitan is the only one of the 11 city hospitals to offer that type of surgery to transgender patients.

DSRIP UPDATE - The Independent Assessor released it midpoint assessment of the 25 Performing Provider Systems that make up the state's Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program. The report is really long and we are working our way through, but what we know so far is that 21 of the 25 systems were recommended a corrective action. More on this in the coming days and weeks.

TAUB REPRIEVE - Columbia University has been ordered to leave Dr. Robert Taub alone while it pursues termination for his role in the political corruption case of former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, according to the New York Law Journal.

DON'T DO THAT - Daniel E. Kelley, 53, of Syracuse was arrested less than three hours after he made a bomb threat at St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.


-WIN FOR TRANSPARENCY - STAT reports: "Amid intense criticism, lawmakers have removed a controversial provision in the 21st Century Cures Act that would have exempted companies from reporting payments made to doctors for receiving continuing medical education sessions, medical journals, or textbooks."


IS THE PRICE RIGHT? - President-elect Trump's choice of Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services was met with mixed, but not unsurprising, reactions.

...Sen. Chuck Schumer , soon to be minority leader, said: "Congressman Price has proven to be far out of the mainstream of what Americans want when it comes to Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and Planned Parenthood. Thanks to those three programs, millions of American seniors, families, people with disabilities and women have access to quality, affordable health care. Nominating Congressman Price to be the HHS secretary is akin to asking the fox to guard the hen house." Schumer went on: "When it comes to issues like Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood, Congressman Price and the average American couldn't be further apart. Between this nomination of an avowed Medicare opponent to serve as HHS secretary and Republicans here in Washington threatening to privatize Medicare, it's clear that Republicans are plotting a war on seniors next year."

...Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, whose own repeal and replace plan is far less radical than Price's, said he "recognizes the fiscal challenges" facing the health programs "and the need for Congress and the executive branch to work together to develop better ways to shore up these programs and help guarantee they are here for our children and grandchildren."

...What you need to know: Health care policy is always about balancing coverage and cost. Obamacare prioritized the former, offering subsidies and an expanded Medicaid program to insure as many people as possible. Price and House Speaker Paul Ryan seem to focus on the latter. Both men want to reduce the federal deficit, believing that will strengthen the overall economy.

-MEET THE NEW HEAD OF CMS - Seema Verma will lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Unlike many past CMS administrators, she comes from the Medicaid world, and knows as much as anyone about what states deal with when trying to interact with the federal government. She was the architect of the Healthy Indiana Plan, the state's coverage expansion for low-income individuals enacted under former governor Mitch Daniels and supported by Democrats.

-DON'T DO THAT, PART II - Edward Kramer Jr., a chiropractor in New Jersey accused of fondling two female patients, must stop treating women until a monitor can be assigned to chaperone him, according to

TODAY'S TIP - Comes from the Los Angeles Times: "For a long life, consider picking up a tennis racket."


-MARIJUANA TRENDS - More people are using marijuana, and men are using with greater frequency than women, according to a study from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Rates of marijuana use had been fairly stable until 2007 when prevalence increased by about 4 percent among men and 3 percent among women. The study doesn't conclude why but the authors hypothesized that the recession led more people to marijuana.

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