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POLITICO New York Health Care: Obamacare by N.Y. county; Pharmacann's challenge

Dear readers: POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it at that time, 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

CHECK THIS OUT POLITICO New York’s Brenden Cheney and I made a map that shows how New York’s insurance exchange performed in every county. Hover over to see Medicaid, Child Health Plus and private insurance enrollment in both 2015 and 2014. The numbers are current as of February—so a bit outdated, especially for Medicaid—but it’s clear that private plans became a lot more popular in western New York, the Southern Tier, and Staten Island. Our map also shows what percentage of a county’s total population is now receiving health insurance through the exchange. Have fun with this:

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CUTTING IT CLOSE — Teddy Scott, the CEO of PharmaCann, one of the five companies awarded a license to grow medical marijuana in New York State, says he will meet a January deadline for distribution even though he does not yet have a facility for growing the plant. It's not impossible for Scott to meet the deadline, but he needs a couple things to go his way.

NOW WE KNOW Everyone knows the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Turns out that’s the same path to a woman’s heart, according to a study in Appetite, which found women's brains respond more to romantic cues on a full stomach than an empty one. "We found that young women both with and without a history of dieting had greater brain activation in response to romantic pictures in reward-related neural regions after having eaten than when hungry," Alice Ely, first author, said in a press release accompanying the article. "This data suggests that eating may prime or sensitize young women to rewards beyond food. It also supports a shared neurocircuitry for food and sex."

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LEGIONNAIRES’ UPDATE — The mayor’s office reported there are now 124 people who have been sickened by the Legionnaires’ outbreak in the south Bronx. No new cases have been reported since Aug. 3.

WEST NILE VIRUS The season's first human case of West Nile virus has been reported in Brooklyn, according to the city's health department. The man, who was not identified, was hospitalized with viral meningitis, treated and released. Human cases of West Nile are relatively rare with approximately 20 being reported in New York City every year.

FINANCES — St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center in Syracuse reported an operating loss of $4.1 million for the six months ending June 30. The hospital reported a $2.3 million gain through the first six months last year. While net patient revenue increased by $2.4 million—owing to an increase of 102 outpatient surgeries and seven inpatient surgeries—fringe benefit costs were up nearly $2 million year-over-year and "supplies and other expenses" increased $5.4 million, according to the hospital's most recent financial report. Read more here:

STRAINED The New York Times looks at what it means to have every cooling tower in New York City cleaned in 14 days. As health commissioner Mary Bassett’s “order has been carried out, it has taxed the resources of the limited number of companies that specialize in cooling towers, frustrated some building owners who see it as an unnecessary expense and created confusion about what exactly the order requires.”

BANNED — The Albany Times Union reports: “Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Friday banning powdered alcohol from being sold in New York. With the signing, New York joins 20 other states in banning the sale of the substance, known by the brand Palcohol.”

GRANT LAND — Tara Cortes, professor of geriatric nursing and executive director of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at NYU’s College of Nursing, has been awarded a 3-year $2.55 million Health Resources and Services Administration grant through the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program.

PHARMA REPORT: The Wall Street Journal reports: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it has approved the use of the painkiller OxyContin in children as young as 11, for severe pain that can’t be adequately treated with other medications. An FDA spokesman said the agency granted the approval Thursday, after the drug’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma LP, submitted clinical-trial data on the drug’s safety and efficacy in children. In a posting on its website, the FDA said it asked Purdue to perform the studies in children.”


SUSPENDED POLITICO Florida reports Dr. Salomon E. Melgen, a south Florida ophthalmologist charged with political corruption alongside Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, has been suspended from the state's Medicaid program over the dozens of unrelated Medicare fraud charges against him, the Agency for Health Care Administration says. Federal prosecutors say he bilked the program out of $105 million between 2007 and 2014. View the agency order suspending Melgen from the program here:

OBAMACARE NEWS — Obamacare signups spiked during tax season, according to the National Journal. “The numbers suggest that the mandate penalty, set to increase again in 2016, might be starting to have the desired effect. That's what the Affordable Care Act is going to need in order to enroll more (presumably healthier) people, moderate lingering concerns about premiums under the law, and continue shrinking the number of uninsured. The Obama administration allowed people facing the mandate penalty in 2014 to sign up for insurance coverage through, which serves 30-plus states, through April 30 in what's known as a special enrollment period. The idea was that Americans would be paying the mandate penalty for the first time when they filed their 2014 taxes this year, and this would give them a chance to avoid the penalty for most of 2015 and going forward. The overall numbers were tepid: Just 143,707 people chose to sign up for coverage because of the mandate. But according to the new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data, the sign-ups did increase dramatically with the April 30 deadline.”

…More than 29,000 New Jersey residents signed up for health insurance through the state’s federally run exchange between February and June of this year—outside of the normal open enrollment period—because special circumstances made them eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The additional 29,000 sign ups would increase overall enrollment by close to 14 percent, but it is not yet clear how many enrollees may have dropped or will stop paying for coverage this year.

THIS IS INTERESTING — Intermountain Healthcare, a Utah insurer, is offering employers the promise of 4 percent growth in costs if they sign a three-year contract.

CANDIDATES ON VACCINATION — Donald Trump believes there is a correlation between vaccines and autism. There is no science to support that. Carly Fiorina said vaccination should be a parent’s choice. Fiorina said her daughter was “bullied” by a school nurse into giving Fiorina’s granddaughter an HPV shot. “Our daughter said, ‘You know, measles is one thing, but some of these vaccinations now that they’re asking particularly young girls to get at age 10 and 11, I don’t want to do that.’” Fiorina said. “And she got bullied, she got bullied by a school nurse.” Fellow GOP presidential candidate and former New York Gov. George Pataki took to Twitter on Friday to condemn Fiorina’s comments. “Pandering for votes isn’t going to win us back the Presidency,” Pataki tweeted. “Optional vaccinations is bad for public health & bad politics.”

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TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the Cleveland Clinic: “In the hot weather, these two drinks are the best to give your kids.”


-SEE MOM, I TOLD YOU IT HAD BENEFITS — Researchers say playing Tetris for as little as three minutes can weaken cravings for drugs, food and activities such as sex and sleeping by approximately one fifth. The study, published in Addictive Behaviors, explains craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity. But playing a visual game occupies the mental processes that support that imagery.

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 8/14, 8/13, 8/12, 8/11, 8/10

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