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POLITICO New York Health Care: AG targets home health care; governor expands services for schizophrenia

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written by Dan Goldberg

SETTLED — Brooklyn-based Empire State Home Care Services agreed to pay $6 million as part of a settlement with the New York state attorney general to resolve allegations of improper Medicaid billing, according to the Wall Street Journal. The home-health care company did not admit any wrongdoing.

MENTAL HEALTH — The state’s Office of Mental Health is expanding a program that provides services for young adults with schizophrenia. OnTrackNY, which offers psychiatric treatment, employment, education and family support for young New Yorkers with newly emerging psychotic symptoms, will expand to five new locations in Buffalo, Farmingville, Syracuse and an additional two in Manhattan. The program, which began with sites in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Yonkers, already serves roughly 160 youths, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office. The expansion will add another 175 young adults. An additional three OnTrackNY locations are currently in development for Albany, Rochester and New York City.

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NOW WE KNOW — American women use book club membership as a way to size up the status of potential boyfriends. Irish women do not, according to a study from the University of Kansas. The researcher interviewed 53 women, ages 19-80. The research also concluded that book clubs were a positive force in a woman’s life. "Conversations at book club meetings served to reinforce women's sense of self as well as provided a place for women to negotiate their sexuality, particularly through conversations about what kinds of women were being portrayed in books read by the group," Christy Craig, a KU doctoral candidate in sociology, said in a press release accompanying the article. If you’re curious, this research also delved into how the book club women felt about “Fifty Shades of Grey.” (Spoiler Alert: They feel conflicted.)

MUMPS — Officials in New York City are investigating several cases of mumps in Far Rockaway, according to WABC.

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PHARMA REPORT: The Wall Street Journal reports: “GlaxoSmithKline PLC is selling its remaining rights to a drug for use in treating autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, to Novartis AG for up to $1 billion, plus royalties.”


-GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME — The Boston Globe tells the story of Jesi Stracham, a young woman who used social media to share her recovery from a motorcycle accident that left her paralyzed from the chest down. “She had no idea, as she tapped away at her iPhone from her hospital bed, what her bubbly posts would unleash. The stock of a Cambridge-based biotech company would rise and fall with her updates. Investors would scrutinize Stracham’s words and pore over individual frames in her videos. Stracham herself would be subjected to uncomfortable questions from strangers: Could she control her bowels? What about her bladder? Was she faking the small gains in movement she chronicled online? Other strangers would help her raise about $40,000 online to cover her medical bills — and, most unexpectedly, her posts would lead her to love.”

-WAGE RULES — The New York Times reports: “A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated regulations drawn up by the Obama administration to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to almost two million workers who provide home care for the elderly and disabled.

The regulations, struck down by a lower court about nine months ago, were intended to remove an exemption in federal minimum wage and overtime laws for home care workers employed by third-party staffing agencies. A three-judge appellate panel in Washington ruled Friday that the Labor Department has the authority to eliminate the exemption. Labor law specialists, noting that Democratic administrations have been trying to eliminate the exemption since the early 1990s, called the ruling momentous.”

-ABORTION RESTRICTION — Ohio is considering a bill that would make it illegal to perform an abortion if Down Syndrome is the reason for the abortion.

-WAIT ‘TIL NEXT YEAR — Republican Senator John Thune is now saying it may be fine to wait until 2016 before using reconciliation (a budget maneuver) to repeal Obamacare. Roll Call has more.

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TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the State Department of Health, which reminds us: “Know your HIV status. Tests are highly accurate and can provide a result in 20 minutes or less.”


-FLAP GAP — Researchers, writing in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, at NYU Langone Medical Center say their new technique for closing wounds during scoliosis surgery reduces the risk of infection. About 20 percent of patients who underwent surgery without the technique experienced complications. Zero patients who underwent surgery with the new technique suffered a wound complication. The surgeons use a multilayered flap closure that enables doctors to close several layers of muscle and fascia while maintaining blood supply from the donor site to the recipient site, according to a press release from Langone.

-311 STUDY — Researchers at New York University looked at 311 complaint data to find out when and where neighbors are most likely to be complaining. They found complaints are more likely to occur in areas between two homogenous communities where the boundaries between different ethnic and racial groups aren't clearly defined, according to a press release from the school. "Neighborhood conflict arises not from mere separation or mixing of diverse populations, but as a result of these 'fuzzy' boundaries between homogenous neighborhoods," Joscha Legewie, an assistant professor of education and sociology at NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, said in a press release from the school. "These area may be particularly prone to conflict because they may threaten surrounding homogenous community life and foster ambiguities about group turf." The research was presented at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Chicago.

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