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POLITICO New York Health Care, presented by PhRMA: Mohawk Valley answers some questions

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

HOW IT WILL GET DONE — Mohawk Valley Health System, which is charged with building a new hospital in downtown Utica, released answers Tuesday to some of the most frequently asked questions about the facility. In a press release sent to media, the health system delved into how it plans to pay for the hospital, which is estimated to cost between $500 million and $600 million, as well as the potential impact the construction will have on downtown property owners. POLITICO New York reported last week that while the new hospital, which will combine St. Luke’s Memorial Hospital and St. Elizabeth Medical Center, has made great promises, details about it remain scarce. Read more here: [PRO]

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AND MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW Josefa and me on Twitter @J__Velasquez & @DanCGoldberg. And for all New Jersey health news, check out @katiedjennings

NOW WE KNOW — Here’s a video that explains how pee, once prized by chemists, helped shape the modern world. For starters, alchemists, who boiled down urine, discovered phosphorous. Without that, we wouldn’t understand matches, fertilizers or even carbonated soda.

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** A message from PhRMA: In 2013 alone, the biopharmaceutical industry invested more than $553 million dollars in clinical trials in New York. Learn more about the economic impact of clinical trials in our communities at **

GRANT LAND — NYU Langone Medical Center will receive up to $6.9 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to lead the Greater New York City Practice Transformation Network, one of 29 networks throughout the country that make up the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative. The money will help approximately 1,800 providers in the New York City area improve population management strategies, care coordination and community engagement. It's part of a larger federal effort to change the way physicians provide care to patients and bill insurers. The New York eHealth Collaborative and the National Council for Behavioral Health also received awards. [PRO]

THE TOUGH CONVERSATIONS — WNYC’s new podcast, Only Human, is gathering personal stories about health: It examines the uncomfortable conversations we try to put-off, the innovative work to find medical breakthroughs, the block and tackling to rebuild the healthcare system. The first episode tells the story of Mary Harris who, in one week, learned she had breast cancer and that she was pregnant. WNYC is also asking people to share their health confessions at #onlyhuman.

HONORS — The United Hospital Fund held its annual gala Monday night at the Waldorf Astoria and honored Howard P. Milstein, Dr. Arnold P. Gold and Stephen Berger. The event marks the opening of the Fund’s 137th fund-raising campaign for its work to shape positive change in health care in New York.

REAL ESTATE NEWS — Crain’s reports: “A real estate investor is buying the medical-office space at the base of the Corinthian, a large East Side residential tower, for as much as $50 million.”

PHARMA REPORT: Ed Silverman at Pharmalot does a really good job of explaining how Martin Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceutical has been able to block a generic competitor. The company has taken a lot of heat for raising the price of its lifesaving drugs to $750 per pill, up from $13.50. So, why doesn’t another company come in and produce a generic version of the drug Daraprim, which no longer has patent protection? Silverman explains.

-WHY PRICES KEEP RISING — The Wall Street Journal has a good story on how supply and demand do not factor into drug prices. In fact, as demand wanes prices often increase. “A result of this pricing power is that across 30 top-selling drugs sold by pharmacies, U.S. revenue growth has far outpaced demand in the past five years, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of corporate filings and industry data. Revenue growth averaged 61 percent, three times the increase in prescriptions.”

-BLOATED CLAIMS FOR BLOATING MEDICATION — Silverman also reports that a federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit, which alleged Bayer exaggerated claims for its product preventing constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating. “Among the key points: the judge decided that a government expert failed to distinguish between the amount of substantiated evidence that is needed to compare a prescription drug and a dietary supplement.”


-THIS IS HOW CONGRESS WORKS — Congressional Democrats and Republicans are both against the Cadillac Tax, the excise tax on expensive health insurance plans. (Never mind that health economists across the political spectrum say it’s a good idea.) So, it will be repealed, right? No. Republicans don’t want to get rid of a tax that Democrats don’t like, but own. "We're not going to just give the Democrats what they want, and not extract something useful and important for consumers," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told POLITICO. "There's a lot of other things that we would like to do on Obamacare."

-WHAT THE KIDS ARE INTO THESE DAYS — The Food and Drug Administration announced a $128 million public education campaign to fight tobacco use among young minority groups “who identify with the hip-hop peer crowd.” The FDA totally gets kids: "We know from our research that remaining in control is an important pillar of hip-hop culture. But smoking represents a loss of control, so tobacco use is actually in conflict with that priority,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “The ‘Fresh Empire’ campaign underscores that important message to hip-hop youth, empowering this at-risk peer crowd to live tobacco free."

-GREAT METAPHOR — How is the health care system like bachelor party in Las Vegas? The Incidental Economist explains:

-CLINTON’S COMMENTS IRK OBAMA ADMINISTRATION — Hillary Clinton’s call to repeal the Cadillac Tax surprised and irked the Obama administration, according to The New York Times. “A White House spokeswoman said that, to her knowledge, the Clinton campaign had not consulted the administration. The White House press office issued a statement describing the tax on high-cost health plans — the so-called Cadillac tax — as ‘a key part’ of Mr. Obama’s health care law. Repealing it ‘would hurt our economy by increasing the deficit, raising health care cost growth and cutting workers’ paychecks,’ the White House said. It would also blow an $87 billion hole in the government’s revenue stream over eight years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.”

-EXPRESS SCRIPTS TO COVER COSTLY NEW DRUGS — POLITICO reports: “Express Scripts will offer both of the new and expensive cholesterol-lowering drugs to patients on its national preferred formulary, but will utilize ‘igorous utilization management’ to help control costs, the company announced [Tuesday]. Through a combination of negotiated discounts and utilization management, Express Scripts says its national preferred formulary clients will spend collectively about $750 million on the two drugs in 2016, far lower than what industry has forecasted. … The two drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors — Amgen's Repatha and Praluent, from Repatha and Sanofi — have list prices of more than $14,000, well above the price of generic statin meds.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the Community Healthcare Network’s Chief Medical Officer Matthew Weissman: “October is National Breast Cancer Awareness. In honor of this, CHN would like to remind you that there are many risk factors that you can’t control, but there are a few that you can: stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight, and get regular physical activity. Always make sure to see your doctor regularly and get appropriate imaging.”


-THE DADDY BLUES — Expectant mothers aren’t the only ones who can become depressed, according to CBS news. “Researchers from McGill University Health Center in Montreal, Canada, reported in The American Journal of Men's Health that more than 13 percent of first-time expectant fathers reported elevated symptoms of depression during their partners' pregnancies.”

** A message from PhRMA: Every day in New York, countless people fight life-threatening diseases. Their bravery inspires countless researchers and scientists across the country in their quest to develop medicines that help patients live longer, healthier lives. Here in New York, the biopharmaceutical industry has invested more than $553 million during the 2,476 clinical trials that took place in 2013 alone. Each step brings us closer to a cure. To learn more, please visit **

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 10/5, 10/2, 10/1, 9/30, 9/29

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