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POLITICO New York Health Care: Assisted-suicide momentum; McCray headlines psychiatric conference

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 Josefa Velasquez

MOMENTUM — The California state Legislature has passed a bill to let doctors prescribe medication to end patients' lives and New York State Sen. Diane Savino is hoping that vote will boost her effort for similar aid-in-dying legislation in New York. Savino, a member of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, and Democratic Sen. Brad Hoylman are sponsoring a bill that would let providers prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally patients who intend to end their own lives. Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal is sponsoring the legislation in her chamber. “Our bill does not discriminate between one end-of-life option or another. Just as New Yorkers deserve the option to request every medical intervention to sustain life, so too do they deserve the option to end their suffering within the reliable framework established by this bill,” Savino said in a statement. “Aid-in-dying laws provide people with more options and leaves end-of-life decision making in the hands of the individual and their doctor, where it belongs.”

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MCCRAY TO KEYNOTE CONFERENCE — New York City first lady Chirlane McCray will deliver the keynote address Wednesday at the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services' annual conference, her office announced. McCray, who has made mental health issues her main priority in recent months, will speak at the conference of psychiatric care providers in Kerhonkson, New York. She has promised to unveil a "mental health roadmap," a new policy initiative aimed at substantively altering New York City's current system of mental health care delivery, sometime this fall.

NOW WE KNOW — Dumping your emotional load onto others fosters a close relationship, researchers at Queen’s University found, and it can help ease stress.

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HEALTHY EATING — The Clinton County Health Department is partnering with local small businesses to kick off its Better Choice Retailer Program, which aids neighborhood convenience stores to offer more nutritional food. “We know in Clinton County, we are rural, and sometimes getting to a grocery store or getting into town can be a problem," said KeyLeigh Raville, a public health nutritionist for the county health department.

NEWS FROM ACROSS THE RIVER — A state judge in New Jersey has ruled that the mother of a teenage girl with epilepsy cannot come to school to feed her daughter the cannabis oil that helps control her seizures. State Administrative Law Judge John S. Kennedy wrote that there is no doctors report that proves that the lunchtime dose of medical marijuana is medically necessary, but Genny Barbour’s family argue that not doing so can cause “irreparable harm”

PHARMA REPORT — The drugs Esbriet and Ofev have been shown to help people with Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable disease that leads to scar tissue buildup around the lungs, keep their lungs functioning longer.


-HIGHER PREMIUMS — If federal lawmakers approve a proposal to allow insurers to charge older adults up to five times as much as younger adults, instead of the current 3-to-1 rate banding — meaning that under the Affordable Care Act people age 64 and older can’t be charged more than three times as much as the 21- to 24-year-old age group — federal spending for older enrollees will likely increase as would the need for charity care for vulnerable adults, according to an analysis by the Commonwealth Fund. Under the proposal, the report found, the average annual premium for a 64-year old would rise from $8,500 to $11,000 under the 5-to-1 rate banding and the annual premium for a 41-year-old would fall by roughly $700.

-HEALTHCARE.GOV AUDIT RELEASED — An audit done by the Office of the Inspector General found that the employees responsible for overseeing the $600 million contracts to build — the website intended to showcase the Affordable Care Act, which was riddled with technical isses when first introduced — weren’t adequately trained and did not keep records properly. “Because [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] did not always provide adequate contract management and oversight for Federal marketplace contracts, (1) contractor delays and performance issues were not always identified, (2) a contractor incurred unauthorized costs that increased the cost of the contract, (3) contracting officers in all Government agencies did not have access to contractor's past performance evaluations when making contract awards, and (4) critical deliverables and management decisions were not properly documented,” the audit says.

-PENALIZING HOSPITALS — Astudy published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that hospitals are being penalized based on the types of patients they serve. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that patients’ education, income and ability to bathe, dress and feed themselves explain nearly half of the difference in readmission rates between the best- and worst-performing hospitals, the Washington Post reports. The worst performing hospitals have more than 50 percent of their patients with less than a high school education, as opposed to the best performing hospitals. Education level, the study argues, correlates with hospital readmittance and chronic illness.

-HOW CLOSE ARE WE? — ”Congress has just 15 days left in the month to reach a budget agreement and the stakes are high: Without a deal, the government will shut down for the second time in three years,” POLITICO’s Danny Vinik writes. “The flashpoint this time could be Planned Parenthood: Republicans want to use the budget negotiations to defund the group after videos released this summer allegedly showed the organization illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. Democrats have said they will not accept any budget that defunds Planned Parenthood.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from Montefiore Medical Center reminding expecting mothers that exercising during pregnancy may reduce complications.


-RACIAL DISPARITY — Black children with appendicitis are less likely to receive any pain medication for moderate pain and less likely to receive opioids for severe pain, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association's JAMA Pediatrics. “Our findings suggest that although clinicians may recognize pain equally across racial groups, they may be reacting to the pain differently by treating black patients with nonopioid analgesia, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, while treating white patients with opioid analgesia for similar pain,” researchers wrote.

-MARIJUANA USE DOWN — Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health say marijuana use among American high school students is lower today than it was 15 years ago, despite several states legalizing the drug for medical use and the movement toward decriminalization. The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol dependence, says that 40 percent of teens in 2013 said they smoked marijuana, down from 47 percent in 1999, but up from 37 percent in 2009.

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