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POLITICO New York Health Care: Buery to be point man on mental health; what ever happened to Bloomberg's last health push?

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written by Dan Goldberg

QUARTERBACKING CARE — Deputy Mayor Richard Buery will coordinate mental health reform for the de Blasio administration, the mayor announced Tuesday. The announcement comes as the administration prepares a major push to connect New Yorkers with new mental health services, which city officials hope will one day soon be as ubiquitous as flu shots. Buery's experience has been implementing the mayor's education initiatives. He helped manage the universal pre-K launch and the expansion of after school programs for middle school students. But with those initiatives implemented, Buery's portfolio has been thinned in recent months.

Like pre-K, the de Blasio administration's mental health plans will require overseeing a set of agencies to ensure they coordinate with one another. Buery sees himself as the quarterback who can implement the McCray's playbook. The idea, which first lady Chirlane McCray has mentioned several times, is to provide services for those who don't show signs of serious mental illness but who have some diagnosable condition: the lonely senior, the sad high school student, the new mom with postpartum depression, Buery said. "Our vision is that when Bill de Blasio leaves office — that getting help if you're sad depressed, having mental health challenges — that getting help is as easy and straightforward as getting a flu shot," Buery said. Read my story here:

...The appointment comes one day after the mayor announced that Lilliam Barrios Paoli, the deputy mayor for health and human services whose portfolio included mental health and homeless services, was leaving the administration to chair the board of the Health and Hospitals Corporation.

THE MORE IMMEDIATE PROBLEM — Mayor Bill de Blasio told WNYC Tuesday morning that the city does have a real and persistent homeless problem. But he offered no solution. The homeless problem is unlikely to be a significant part of the administration’s mental health push. It’s too closely tied to supportive housing and that is too expensive for the city to handle on its own.

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FALSE STEP — As his third term was winding down, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made one final effort to slim down New York's collective waistline — a proposal to enhance stairwell access in all new construction. But more than two years later, the idea has gone nowhere, although the de Blasio administration on Tuesday voiced an interest in its resurrection. One bill would have promoted stairways in new buildings and those undergoing major renovations by requiring property owners to provide access to at least one clearly identified stairwell, with signs posted near elevators encouraging people to the stairs. The other measure would have allowed the use of "hold-open devices" in the doors of one stairway in each building for a maximum of three consecutive floors. A spokeswoman for health commissioner Mary Bassett said the agency "continues to support the bill." The agency's press office also noted the measure has been included in Mayor Bill de Blasio's OneNYC plan. POLITICO New York’s Sally Goldenberg has the details.

NOW WE KNOW — Men who worry about their masculinity may try to overcompensate, according to an article in the Journal of Injury Prevention. These men are more prone to violence.

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MONKEY COURT — POLITICO New York’s Colby Hamilton reports that the state's highest court won't hear the appeal of two cases that sought to provide a pair of chimpanzees rights normally reserved for humans. The Nonhuman Rights Project had argued that the captivity of the two chimps — Kiko, owned by a Niagara Falls couple, and Tommy, owned by a Fulton County couple — violated their rights. It sought a change to the conditions of their confinement, along with their release to a sanctuary in Florida. But Court of Appeals spokesman Gary Spencer said this would have required recognition that a chimp qualifies as a “person” under state law. In July, a Manhattan Supreme Court justice denied the group's habeas corpus relief request for a different pair of chimps being held at a Stony Brook University laboratory. [PRO]

NEW YORK VERSUS THE (TAX) DODGERS — New York City filed a civil suit in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday against 16 defendants for $10 million in alleged damages from lost tax revenue on cigarettes smuggled into the city. The suit, announced by corporation counsel Zachary Carter, alleges that the defendants purchased about 155,000 cartons from undercover officers in Virginia on dozens of occasions between 2011 and 2013. [PRO]

New York State's Medicaid inspector general has posted the latest compliance requirements for the Performing Provider Systems taking part in the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program. These do not have the force of regulations but are instead meant to provide guidance for the lead hospitals and physician groups in charge of implementing the state's $7.3 billion plan to transform Medicaid. The guidance explains how OMIG will interpret and apply existing legal and regulatory requirements. The DSRIP Compliance Guidance is available here:

PHARMA REPORT: The Guardian reports: Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical groups, has said it will resist demands from investors and transparency campaigners that it disclose results from all historical drug trials.”

-NOT BUYING IT A federal judge has an “inclination” to deny Pfizer’s four-year-old request to throw out a Justice Department lawsuit accusing the drug maker’s Wyeth unit of overcharging government Medicaid health programs for the heartburn drug Protonix, according to the Wall Street Journal.

-SPINOFF The Wall Street Journal reports: “Bayer AG on Tuesday moved a step closer to floating its €11 billion ($12.3 billion) specialty chemicals business by ‘legally and economically’ separating the unit, now named Covestro AG. The German pharmaceuticals group plans to float Covestro, previously called Material Science, by the middle of next year and potentially as soon as this fall. Bayer plans either an initial public offering or direct spinoff to shareholders. The company has previously indicated that it preferred an IPO, which would generate cash for heavily indebted Bayer.”


-THE PRICE IS TOO DAMN HIGH — POLITICO reports: “Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to introduce a bill that would make it easier to import prescription drugs from Canada and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, among other measures to bring down the cost of drugs. Sanders, who's seeking the Democratic nomination for president, is the first candidate to release a detailed proposal to address prescription drug costs, which recent polls have shown are Americans' top health care concern.”

-DISTURBING REPORT — The VA is investigating medical errors less, even as the number of medical errors is on the rise at VA hospitals, according to The Washington Post. The number of investigations declined 18 percent from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2014, while medical errors grew more than 7 percent. “Auditors said it was hard for them to know whether the decline in investigations (called root cause analyses) means that fewer errors are being reported, or that these mistakes, while on the rise, are not serious enough to warrant scrutiny.”

-IN CASE YOU MISSED — The Wall Street Journal examined how public and private employers are looking at ways to avoid the Cadillac Tax, which will begin in 2018. “Most employers are expected to shift employees to high-deductible plans that require them to pay more out of pocket for doctor’s visits and prescriptions.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the Cleveland Clinic, “Don't let ‘penny breath’ wreak havoc on your health or love life. Get the facts:


-YOUR HEART IS OLDER THAN YOU THINK — The Los Angeles Times reports: “A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the average American man has a heart that’s 7.8 years “older” than his chronological age; for women, the comparable “heart age” is 5.4 years higher than her calendar age.”

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