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POLITICO New York Health Care: Smoking at all time lows; Montefiore move explained

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 Dan Goldberg

REVERSING THE TREND — The smoking rate in New York City fell to 13.9 percent in 2014, the lowest rate on record, according to the latest Community Health Survey. The numbers are surprising because the trend had been moving in the opposite direction over the past few years. In 2013, the number of New York City residents who smoked climbed to more than 1 million, and the rate spiked to 16.1 percent, the highest since 2007. Read my full story here:

OBAMACARE NUMBERS — Nearly one-fifth of New York's uninsured population found health coverage in 2014, according to new census data which, for the first time, surveyed Americans after the Affordable Care Act expanded health insurance options. Year-over-year, New York State's uninsured rate fell about 19 percent, from 10.7 percent of the population to 8.7 percent. The state's uninsured rate had climbed as high as 16.7 percent in 2009 and 2010, according to the New York State Health Foundation. In New York City, where the majority of uninsured resided before the ACA took effect, the uninsured rate dropped 34 percent, from 20.9 percent in 2013 to 13.8 percent in 2014. [PRO]

...Across the nation, the uninsured rate dropped to 10.4 percent, a decrease of nearly 3 percentage points, or 8.8 million people, since 2013.

MONTEFIORE’S MOVE EXPLAINED — Montefiore Health System on Wednesday announced a clinical affiliation agreement with St. Joseph's Medical Center in Yonkers, further expanding Montefiore's presence in Westchester County and offering it the chance to capitalize on a well-regarded behavioral health team. Montefiore has more than 400,000 lives attributed to value-based contracts and is looking to grow its presence north of the city. To manage the health of a population that size, spread out over an area that large, Montefiore needs to be able to offer an array of services, including primary and tertiary care as well as behavioral health services, which can be among the most expensive to provide. Montefiore only has about 50 behavioral health beds. St. Joseph's, which includes St. Vincent's Hospital Westchester, has about 100 beds. The affiliation should allow St. Joseph's to benefit from Montefiore's care coordination expertise and clinical programs such as cardiovascular care, while Montefiore can take advantage of its new partner's behavioral health acumen. [PRO]

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MEDICAL MARIJUANA CONCERNS — Some of the largest federally regulated banks in New York have no plans to do business with the companies that were awarded licenses to grow and distribute medical marijuana. That means the banks will not accept deposits from the companies and will not allow bank-issued debit cards to be used to purchase the drug.

NOW WE KNOW — Driving intoxicated is bad. Driving distracted is bad. And new research shows that driving intoxicated and distracted is really bad. Researchers at the University of Kentucky, writing in Psychopharmacology, found that people who are intoxicated, but have a blood alcohol content below the legal limit, were still twice as likely to be impaired when trying to manage distractions compared to those who had nothing to drink.

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BABY PICTURES — Are you looking to serve the public while taking pictures of babies, but worried no such job exists? Don’t sweat it. The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation is looking for a firm to “provide Newborn Photography services,” according to the City Record. The purpose is to "enhance the patient experience in the maternity department,” according to the solicitation in the City Record dated Sept. 15.

SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA TAKEDOWN — Ten people linked to a massive synthetic marijuana ring have been indicted, New York federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The 10 defendants conspired over the last year "to import, manufacture and distribute massive quantities of smokable synthetic cannabinoids," according to the indictment. Authorities say the defendants were involved in illegally importing at least 100 kilograms of illegal synthetic compounds — enough to produce 1,300 kilograms of dried synthetic marijuana product, or roughly 260,000 retail packets. [PRO]

BANNING FETAL TISSUE SALE — State Sen. John DeFrancisco, the deputy majority leader, introduced a bill that bans the for-profit sale — known as “valuable consideration” — of fetal organs and tissue by adding language to the state’s ban on transactions in human material. DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican, said he introduced the bill in response to videos released by an anti-abortion group.

STEWART ON ZADROGA — Jon Stewart was in Washington D.C. Wednesday campaigning for a renewal of the Zadroga Act.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT — New York City's building boom has been bolstered by a steep increase in construction of schools, hospitals and other institutions during the first half of 2015. [PRO]

EINSTEIN RETRACTION — Ivan Oransky, author of the Retraction Watch blog, writes about two papers on a potential cancer drug that have been retracted after an investigation found “inappropriate manipulation of bands in gels.” This makes four retractions for Roman Perez-Soler, an oncologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Oransky writes.

MAKING ROUNDS — Dr. Martin Blaser, the Muriel G. and George W. Singer Professor of Translational Medicine and Professor of Microbiology at NYU Langone and author of “Missing Microbes,” is being tapped to chair the newly formed Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. The council will help shape programs such as the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, according to a press release from Langone.

ALSO MAKING ROUNDS — Dr. Costantino Iadecola, director of the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Anne Parrish Titzell Professor of Neurology, has won the 2015 Excellence Award for Hypertension Research from the American Heart Association's Council on Hypertension, according to a press release from Weill Cornell Medical College. The prize is sponsored by Novartis and comes with $10,000. Iadecola is being honored for his research into how hypertension and stroke may lead to Alzheimer's disease, according to the release.

HAPPENING TODAY — State Sen. Daniel Squadron will hold a hearing at 10:30 a.m. at the Henry Street Settlement Gym to discuss delivering social services to high-risk families from prenatal to pre-k, including maternal home visiting.

ALSO HAPPENING TODAY — Sen. Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, and Rep. Joe Courtney, a Democrat from Connecticut, will hold a 11 a.m. Capitol Hill press conference to unveil Senate legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act’s 40 percent excise tax on high cost health plans. There is bipartisan support for repealing the tax, but no agreement yet on how to make up the $87 billion in revenue that tax is slated to generate.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK — The Cancer Research Institute, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy, the European Academy of Tumor Immunology and the American Association for Cancer Research are jointly sponsoring the first International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference: Translating Science Into Survival, Sept. 16-19, at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel. The conference is already sold out. More information can be found here:

DON’T DO THAT — A New Jersey woman admitted in federal court Wednesday that she sold patient information from a New Jersey hospital, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement. Okeisha Carey, 48, was working as the billing supervisor in a Bergen County hospital when she took more than 250 patient records and sold them for cash, according to prosecutors. The records included personal information, such as patients’ names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and Medicare and Medicaid insurance information. She pleaded guilty to disclosing individually identifiable health information and faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the crime, prosecutors said. She will be sentenced on Dec. 11.

PHARMA REPORT — A study in the journal BMJ found Paxil is not safe for teenagers, upending conventional wisdom.

INSURANCE REPORT — Google Capital, the Internet company’s growth-equity fund, has invested $32.5 million in insurer Oscar, according to The Wall Street Journal. “The deal values two-year-old Oscar at $1.75 billion, up from a valuation of $1.5 billion when it last took funding in April.”

...Bloomberg News reports: “MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, said third-quarter profit will probably be cut by $792 million, or 70 cents a share, on tax costs for a U.K. investment subsidiary.”


-THE ONION — American physicians are refusing to issue any new health warnings until Americans do something about the ones already out there. The American Medical Association president said the group is not going to bother doing any more research on chemical fracking until, at the very least, people vaccinate their children.

-OUR TAX MONEY — The federal government doled out $1.45 billion to help states build health insurance exchanges. It was not money well spent, according to the Government Accountability Office. Read the report:

-BETTER BEDSIDE MANNER — Kaiser Health News looks at how and why doctors are receiving more training on appropriate bedside manner. “[P]ayment initiatives and increasing patient expectations are slowly forcing changes, encouraging doctors to be better listeners and more sensitive to patients’ needs.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from NYU Langone Medical Center: “Feel better at work with ergonomics tips from our experts at Rusk Rehabilitation. Free event 9/17.”


-DISTURBING DISPARITIES — The Incidental Economist reports on a study that found black children with appendicitis were less likely to receive pain medication than white children. There were also disparities based on the severity of pain. “If kids had severe pain, black kids were less likely to get opioids than white kids, but they were still as likely to get any analgesia at all. However, for those kids with moderate pain, not only were black kids less likely to get opioids, they were less likely to get any pain medications at all.”

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