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POLITICO New York Health Care: North Shore-LIJ gets a new name; No change in Yeshiva rating

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written by Josefa Velasquez

REBRANDING — North Shore-LIJ Health System, the state’s largest private employer and health care provider, is changing its name to Northwell Health, president and CEO Michael Dowling announced Monday afternoon. “This new name will be the centerpiece of a broad rebranding and marketing campaign that will launch next year, in January, beginning a multi-year process to build recognition of the new name and distinguish the organization in a cluttered health care market,” Dowling said during a conference call with reporters. Last week, the health system's board of trustees unanimously approved the name change, which Dowling says reflects the change in health care delivery. [PRO]

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FRAUD— A troubled outpatient drug clinic operator accused of providing housing to its patients as a way to illegally boost its Medicaid payments has been ordered by a federal judge to transition its clients to other providers, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office announced Monday. POLITICO New York’s Colby Hamilton reports that the court-ordered transition plan was the product of a civil case Bharara's office filed last October against Narco Freedom after the company’s top executives — the father-and-son team of Alan and Jason Brand — were arrested and charged with extortion and insurance schemes for allegedly embezzling Medicaid funds.The U.S. attorney’s office says the company illegally pushed clients paying for services through Medicaid to use Narco Freedom’s treatment programs, after providing temporary housing in the form of “three-quarter houses.” Patients were informed that they were to enroll in and attend the company’s outpatient clinics or face eviction, according to Bharara. [PRO]

NO CHANGE IN YESHIVA OUTLOOK — Yeshiva University’s transfer of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine to Montefiore Health Systems last week will have no impact on the university’s B3 negative outlook rating, Moody’s Investors Service said Monday. “This relatively unusual spin-off of the medical school to AECOM’s primary teaching hospital is a material development in the university’s restructuring plan, although it does not resolve the university’s full range of operational and financial challenges,” Moody’s said in a statement. According to Moody’s, Yeshiva has been relieved of all of AECOM’s debt, which included $131.1 million of rated debt and roughly $42 million of mortgage debt, but will receive a stream of cash flows over the next 22 years. [PRO]

NOW WE KNOW — Kids are less likely to throw out their school lunches if vegetables are paired with popular foods like burgers and chicken nuggets, according to a study in the journal Food and Nutrition Sciences.

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GROUP PUSHES FOR CITY-BASED MEDICAL MARIJUANA — A group of people dissatisfied with the state’s restrictive medical marijuana program are proposing their own legislation called the “medical marihuana users’ bill of right” and asking the New York City Council to support it. “We’re trying to set up a five-borough patients co-op for people with serious maladies, including ones that aren’t on the state list,” said Dana Beal, a longtime cannabis activist and one of about 10 contributors to the bill. “The law and the regulations don’t cover people who are [also] legitimate patients. We believe that under home rule, we can extend better availability and better prices to more people." The group is asking that the city Health Department request the state to administer other methods of consuming the drug, such as smoking.

FIGHT, FIGHT — State Sen. Tony Avella of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference is accusing Senate Deputy Democratic leader Mike Gianaris of using his clout to cancel a press conference last week to announce a $250,000 grant secured for the borough’s only full-service planned parenthood. A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood New York City said the event was canceled after Gianaris and other elected officials reached out to the organization to ask about the event. Planned Parenthood then decided to cancel the event and schedule one at a later date where more Queens officials could be present.

$30 MILLION GIFT— Jeremy M. Jacobs, a former student of the then-private University at Buffalo, and his family are giving $30 million to UB’s medical school, which is slated to be renamed the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “It’s a huge donation. It’s a huge gift. And anybody giving that kind of money has to be confident that we are doing the right thing,” UB President Satish K. Tripathi said in an interview.

MISTRIAL?— The lawyer representing Larry Slatky, an Albany County nursing home administrator who was accused of steering a contract to a friend while acting as the chief operating officer of NuHealth—the Nassau Health Care Corp. that operates the county's nursing home and several other health care facilities— has asked a judge to dismiss the case against his client alleging that prosecutors withheld important evidence.

EBOLA NURSE SOUNDS OFF ON CHRISTIE — Kaci Hickox, the first traveler from the Ebola-plagued region of Africa to encounter New Jersey’s Ebola policy has some words for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. "It really never ends with this guy," Hickox said when asked about remarks Christie made at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. According to Christie, he called Maine Gov. Paul LePage and said “tag, you’re it. You have her back,” referring to Hickox, who then lived in Maine. "Maybe Governor Christie has forgotten that I won my court battle against Governor LePage. The courts decided his draconian policy was not legal or constitutional!"

PHARMA REPORT — Dublin-based drugmaker Shire PLC is weighing different ways of sweetening its multibillion, all-stock offer for for biotech firm Baxalta Inc. by putting money in the hands of shareholders sooner.

EDITORIAL COMMENT — The New York Times editorial board is pushing state regulators to closely study health insurance mergers, arguing such mergers between Anthem and Cigna and Aetna’s takeover of Humana could reduce competition. If the Justice Department, and state regulators, approve both moves, the number of big national health insurers will drop from five to three, giving the companies greater ability to negotiate lower prices with hospitals, physicians and drug makers.


-NO COST SAVINGS YET — Medicare’s push to pair doctors and hospitals together to save the government money has ended up costing the government more. Last year, according to a federal records review by Kaiser Health News, accountable care organizations were paid $60 billion by Medicare to take care of nearly 6 million beneficiaries. While some ACOs have made progress in reducing hospitalization and other costly resources down, “patients at 45 percent of groups cost Medicare more than the government had projected based on their patients’ historic costs, records show. After paying bonuses to the strong performers, the ACO program resulted in a net loss of nearly $3 million to the Medicare trust fund, government records show.”

…How do ACOs work? Here’s a fun and quick video.

MEDICAL RECORDS — The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee will continue its research federal health information technology Wednesday by evaluating how patients can improve their care by accessing their own medical records. Among those scheduled to witness at the hearing is the author of a study who found that vendors of electronic health records systems often fail to meet federal compliance rules and guidelines for user-friendly designs.

EXAMINING KIDNEY DISEASE — The New York Times examines whether it’s really possible that half of the population over the age of 70 has chronic kidney disease. International guidelines describe kidney disease in terms of how efficiently kidneys filter the waste from our blood, a measure called the glomerular filtration rate. Young, healthy people have GFRs of 120, while anything lower than 60 is a marker of kidney disease. Kidney function naturally declines with age, studies have found.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the New York City Health Department. Choose whole fruits rather than fruit juice if you want to feel full.

MAKING ROUNDS — Dr. Monika Safford, a clinician-investigator known for research on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and health disparities, has been named chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, effective Jan. 1, the medical college announced in a press release.


-SUPER SIZE ME — Research done by the University of Cambridge and published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, suggests that eliminating larger-sized portions from the diet completely could reduce caloric intake by up to 16 percent among adults in the United Kingdom or 29 percent among adults in the United States. Researchers found that people consistently ate more food and drank more non-alcoholic drinks when they were offered a larger sized portion or package. The study also found that adults who were provided with shorter, wider bottles of water drank more than those who were given water from tall, narrow bottles.

-RISING — According to a paper published in the journal Biotechnology Letters, biochemists at the Technical University of Dortmund in Germany reported that they engineered a strain of yeast that produces tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana.

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