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POLITICO New York Health Care: Cuomo awards money to central Brooklyn -- Community health centers in limbo -- Azar confirmed

By Dan Goldberg | 01/25/2018 10:00 AM EDT

VITAL BROOKLYN — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that One Brooklyn Health — a conglomeration of Interfaith Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and Brookdale Medical Center — will receive a substantial share of the $700 million that the administration has held for more than two years with the promise that it would one day be used to transform health care in central Brooklyn. The centerpiece of the plan is re-imagining the role of the three area hospitals. The state had once hoped to include Wyckoff Heights Medical Center as well but that hospital has decided to pursue other suitors. Vital Brooklyn, the name for the larger vision, calls for turning the three hospitals into one health system, paired with federally qualified health centers as well as a range of social services. More here.

... When plans like these fail: STAT takes a look what can happen when hospitals are enveloped by health systems. This isn't really analogous to what the state is trying in Brooklyn but it's food for thought and certainly comparable to what is going on in other parts of the state. "Hospital executives see these cuts as sound business decisions, and say they are the inevitable consequence of changes in how people are using medical services. But to patients and local leaders who joined forces with these larger health networks just years ago, they feel more like broken promises: Not only are they losing convenient access to care, their local hospitals are also getting drained of revenue and jobs that sustain their communities."

SHARE ME: Like this newsletter? Share it with your friends.

MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW Dan on Twitter @DanCGoldberg and Nick @NickNiedz. And for all New Jersey health news, check out @katiedjennings.

NOW WE KNOW — Baseball scouts are always looking for the sweetest swing, and new research from Duke, published in Scientific Reports, found that players who had better scores on a series of vision and motor tasks completed on large touch-screen machines called Nike Sensory Stations also also had better on-base percentages, more walks and fewer strikeouts than their peers. More here.

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 or nniedzwiadek@politico.com.

CORRECTION — Yesterday's bill tracker entry incorrectly stated the sponsor for A9016. It is Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell of Manhattan.

MORE BUDGET — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a pilot program that would subsidize the cost of an assisted living program for those with Alzheimer's and dementia who are not eligible for Medicaid. The program, part of the executive budget released last week, would offer as many as 200 vouchers that would cover up to 75 percent of the average private pay rate in the region. The executive budget also includes $4.4 million to increase the resources needed to review assisted living program applications. The governor would also allow certain providers to expand the number of beds they offer on an expedited basis. There is another $20 million in capital funding set aside to support assisted living program expansions.

EVEN MORE BUDGET — Medicaid managed care plans would be allowed to offer incentive payments to health home enrollees under a proposal in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive budget. The payments would be for participating in wellness activities, as well as for avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary trips to the emergency room. Leslie Moran, senior vice president for the New York Health Plan Association, which represents insurance companies, said the proposal seemed interesting and insurers would like to work with the administration to build off existing models because plans already have many programs that promote a healthy lifestyle. The budget does not allocate any money for this program but the Cuomo administration does expect the proposal to produce long-term savings. "This program increases the ability of health plans to track member utilization and improve access to primary care by redirecting unnecessary emergency visits," said Erin Silk, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health.

DON'T BE SO ALARMIST — Bill Hammond writes that worries of massive cuts to the Medicaid program are, for now, overblown. The state expects to collect more Medicaid money from Washington in the next fiscal year than in the current one, even as enrollment remains virtually flat.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER CLOCK — It's been 118 days since Congress failed to reauthorize funding for community health centers.

AS THE DAYS TICK BY — Community health centers are growing increasingly concerned about vital federal funding that was left out of the most recent congressional spending deal. "Back in October, November it was troublesome, but now it's just become more challenging as time goes on and this isn't resolved," said Rose Duhan, head of the Community Health Care Association of New York State. "The closer it gets without a resolution the more precarious it becomes." More from Nick here.

MAKING ROUNDS — Dr. Alice Police, a breast surgeon, has joined the Northwell Health Cancer Institute as regional director of breast surgery in Westchester County.

PHARMA REPORT:

CUT IT OUT — The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission sent joint warning letters to the marketers and distributors of 12 unapproved opioid cessation products the agencies say were illegally marketed with claims that they were effective treatments for opioid addiction and withdrawal. The products, which haven't been proven safe by the FDA, may keep people from seeking effective, approved therapies to address their addiction, the agency said.

SNAIL MAIL — Senate investigators found that hundreds of millions of dollars worth of illegal Chinese fentanyl is making its way stateside through the U.S. Postal Service due to outdated methods of screening international packages for illicit substances. Read more here.

WHAT WE'RE READING:

AZAR CONFIRMED — The Senate confirmed Alex Azar as secretary of Health and Human Services, installing him atop a department seeking a fresh start after a turbulent first year under the Trump administration, POLITICO's Adam Cancryn reports. More from our D.C. colleagues here.

... Azar has signaled plans to remake HHS as more press-friendly, at the urging of advisers alarmed by the secrecy that's surrounded the agency's work thus far and the perception that negative press made it harder to get things done.

STEPPING DOWN — Cecile Richards is stepping down as president of Planned Parenthood after more than a decade in the post, according to a source familiar with the matter. More from POLITICO here.

WE'RE NOW CLONING MONKEYS! — STAT reports: "There have been mice and cows and pigs and camels, bunnies and bantengs and ferrets and dogs, but ever since Dolly the sheep became the first cloned mammal in 1996, the list has had a conspicuous hole: primates. Now that hole has been filled."

OREGON VOTERS APPROVE TAXES FOR MEDICAID — Oregonians on Tuesday strongly supported a ballot initiative raising taxes on insurers and hospitals to help pay for the state's Medicaid program, which has grown swiftly under the Obama-era expansion. More here from The Oregonian.

KENTUCKY SUIT — Multiple advocacy groups filed a class-action lawsuit to block Kentucky from becoming the first state to impose work requirements in Medicaid and several other provisions that could cut off thousands of people from coverage. The Trump administration earlier this month allowed Kentucky to require some Medicaid enrollees to work 80 hours per month or lose their health benefits, marking a significant philosophical shift in the 52-year-old entitlement program. The lawsuit — filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of 15 Medicaid enrollees — alleges that the Trump administration abused its executive power by granting a sweeping Medicaid waiver to Kentucky that does not promote the objectives of the program.

HOLD YOUR BREATH — The Huffington Post looks at an Orlando neighborhood where people need to flee from the air itself.

MORE EXEMPTIONS — The Trump administration reportedly eyes more mandate exemptions: CMS is working on guidance that would let more people claim an exemption from the Obamacare requirement to buy coverage, The Washington Post reports. The GOP tax overhaul provision eliminating the mandate doesn't take effect until 2019, meaning the coverage requirement remains in place for the 2018 tax year.

GAG RULE — President Donald Trump's global gag rule goes far beyond abortion, the Associated Press reports.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the New York City health department: "Don't use a kerosene or propane space heater to heat your home. They're illegal."

STUDY THIS:

KILLING FOR LIFE — A newly discovered family of viruses appears to play a major role in killing marine bacteria and maintaining the ocean's ecology. And, according to an article in Nature from researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there is evidence to suggest that related bacterial viruses also occur in the human gut. "Bacteria are key components at the bottom of the ocean's food chain, meaning that viruses—which can infect and kill bacteria—are also vital for understanding the ocean's health and function," study co-leader Dr. Libusha Kelly, assistant professor of systems & computational biology and of microbiology & immunology at Einstein, said in a press release.

QUESTIONING CONVENTIONAL WISDOM — The federal drug discount program is likely to cause hospitals to buy independent cancer practices, according to a government-funded study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers also couldn't find evidence that savings hospitals derive from the 340B program were invested in safety-net providers or to expand care for low-income patients, "contrary to the goals of the program," they wrote.

BARRIERS — Weill Cornell Medicine researchers, in collaboration with SUNY Albany, published a perspective piece in the New England Journal of Medicine on current barriers and economic benefits of using generic medication for treating and preventing HIV in the United States. Read more here.

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here.

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