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POLITICO New York Health Care: More Legionnaires'; DSRIP quarterly report

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written by Dan Goldberg

LATE BREAKING — The New York City health department reported Wednesday a new cluster of Legionnaires’ at the Melrose Houses in the South Bronx. There have been four cases of the bacterial infection over the last six months in this new cluster. The health department, in a press release, said the water in one of the buildings tested positive in a preliminary test for Legionella pneumophila. Additionally, two other buildings have tested negative and health officials are awaiting results on five other buildings in the complex. The New York City Housing Authority will shut off hot water at the building that tested positive, and will install water filters in every apartment unit the bacteria is eliminated, according to the release. Of the four cases, one took place earlier this year, two were part of the outbreak that killed 12 earlier this summer, and one happened after the other outbreak ended.

...After being accused of reacting too slowly to the previous Legionnaires’ outbreak, Dr. Mary Bassett, city health commissioner, headed to the Melrose Houses to address residents’ concerns on Wednesday night.

DSRIP QUARTERLY REPORT — The state's Medicaid reform plan provided 25 groups with $867 million in May and June, according to the latest quarterly report, which is meant to provide updates on the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program. That represents 60 percent of the funds available in Year 1, which began April 1, 2015, according to the report. The awards range from a $1.1 million payment made to the New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens to a $333.4 million payment made to HHC. Read the full report here:

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THE CLINTON PLAN ON OPIOID ABUSE — In a Tuesday evening op-ed in the New Hampshire Union Leader, Hillary Clinton said that as president, she would direct $7.5 billion to states that develop “strong” proposals to combat substance abuse and expand drug treatment. She said she would also direct an additional $2.5 billion to expand drug treatment options via a federal block grant program. Spokesmen for her campaign didn’t immediately comment as to where that funding would come from. Clinton would ensure all first responders have access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose but which has become prohibitively expensive for some police departments.

CHRISTIE, TOO — Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign released its fourth television advertisement on Wednesday. The spot, titled “Every Life,” features the Republican discussing his desire to help drug addicts and his position that “pro life” extends beyond abortion. The spot will run locally in New Hampshire. Here’s the video:

NOW WE KNOW — Better to be romantic in an email than on the telephone if you’re trying to woo that special someone, according to an article in Computers in Human Behavior. Here’s the theory: People edit their email so they get it just right, whereas voicemails are done in one take. “Thus, senders engage with email messages longer and may think about the task more deeply than when leaving voicemails,” the study said. “This extra processing may increase arousal."

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WHAT THE STATE IS UP TO — As Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie begin to talk more about opioid abuse and the nation’s heroin epidemic, the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services is responding to criticism that it is not doing enough to fight a spike in fatal overdoses, according to The Albany Times-Union. “The new programs include a $1 million medication-assisted treatment program in Utica and $250,000 to create two new positions, a family-support navigator that offers guidance on treatment options for addicts' families and a peer advocate on call in a hospital emergency department to connect patients to addiction treatment after an overdose.”

DON’T BE ‘OVERLY CONCERNED’ — State Department of Health officials say visitors to the New York State Fair in Syracuse don't need to worry about Eastern equine encephalitis, even though the first human case of the year turned up just a short drive away. A resident in the town of Salina was diagnosed last month, the Onondaga County Health Department reported. Salina is just across Onondaga Lake from the fair. "EEE is extremely rare, and fairgoers should not be overly concerned,” a health department official said.

JOB OPENING — New York City has an opening for a senior mental health advisor, and the de Blasio administration is advertising the position on “Reporting into the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, the Senior Advisor for Mental Health will play a key role in developing and guiding long-term mental health initiatives.” Read the rest of the job listing here:

LICH DRAMA — Few development proposals have rankled a community in recent months as much as the plan to redevelop the site where Long Island College Hospital operated until it shut down last year. Now the dispute has led to the ouster of a longtime neighborhood advocate from the Cobble Hill Association. The leadership change could empower a group that wants to sue over plans for the site, according to recent articles in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Roy Sloane, who has served on the association's board since 1980 and is currently its acting president, stepped down after his detractors indicated they would try to oust him over his handling of the real estate fight.

OPINION The New York Times editorial board calls for greater access to expensive hepatitis C drugs, which many state Medicaid programs have restricted to the sickest patients. “The restrictions run counter to guidelines published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, which recommend treating all patients infected with the hepatitis C virus except those who have a life expectancy of less than a year because of some other disease. A June 9 letter to President Obama from the Presidential Advisory Council on H.I.V./AIDS called for eliminating such ‘unreasonable’ restrictions. It said that increased competition had ‘dramatically reduced’ the cost of treatment. Even so, there is probably room to drive prices down even further. With these and other high-priced drugs, the manufacturers typically charge what the market will bear. The public and private insurers that pay for hepatitis C drugs should press for even bigger discounts.”

LETTER TO THE EDITOR — The American Hospital Association wrote to the Wall Street Journal to rebut the notion that insurance mergers were good because it would force hospitals to lower prices.

AT IT AGAIN — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are at it again — this time arguing over who is to blame for the increase in homelessness. The de Blasio administration points to the fact Cuomo has cut state funding and offered to create far fewer supportive housing units than the city has requested. The governor said the state is already investing billions and it is the city that must spend more. POLITICO New York’s Laura Nahmias has more:

MORE MEDICAL MARIJUANA TROUBLE — Riverhead Local reports the town is moving ahead with a public hearing on a proposed moratorium that would prevent a medical marijuana dispensary anywhere in Riverhead.

PHARMA REPORT: Reuters reports: “Gilead Sciences Inc said on Wednesday its experimental fixed-dose combination treatment for HIV proved as effective in a late-stage study as the company's widely used Truvada combo pill but with significantly less loss of bone mineral density and kidney function.”

-DENIED — The Wall Street Journal reports: “A federal appeals court in Washington denied Amgen Inc.’s request for a temporary injunction to block Novartis AG from selling a copycat version of the blockbuster drug Neupogen in the U.S. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit could clear the way for Novartis to begin selling Zarxio, a knockoff version of Neupogen that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March. The U.S. market accounted for more than 70 percent of Amgen’s $1.16 billion in global sales last year of Neupogen, a drug prescribed to chemotherapy patients.”


-HUMAN RESEARCH POLITICO reports on a proposed rule from the Health and Human Services department, which would make the most substantial revisions to protections for human research subjects in decades. “The changes would strengthen informed consent provisions to provide subjects with a clearer understanding of the risks, benefits and scope of a study, put new data security protections in place, require written consent for use of a subject's biological samples and require the oversight of a single institutional review board for most multi-site studies. The update would also address the expansion of research into new fields such as genomics, the increase in multi-site studies and advances in technology.”

TODAY'S TIP Comes from the Cleveland Clinic, which reminds us that “if your pee is the color of honey, put down the brew and grab some H20.”


-SEAHORSES ARE JUST LIKE DADS — Seahorse men are the ones who get pregnant, but aside from that minor difference, researchers say they are a lot like us. "Surprisingly, seahorse dads do a lot of the same things human mums do," Dr. Camilla Whittington, coauthor, said in a press release accompanying the article. "Seahorse babies get a lot of nutrients via the egg yolk provided by their mothers but the pouch of the fathers has also evolved to meet the complex challenges of providing additional nutrients and immunological protection, and ensuring gas exchange and waste removal."

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