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POLITICO New York Health Care, presented by PhRMA: De Blasio pushes Congress on childrens' meals; Northwell hires for bioelectronic center

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

MAYOR’S MAIL — Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging Congress to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, which provides federal funding for school breakfast and lunch programs as well as summer meals, among several other provisions. The program, which must be reauthorized by Congress every five years, expired Sept. 30, but its provisions remain in place, meaning the program continues to operate as it did before the deadline. De Blasio and other Democrats, however, don't want to settle for the status quo. They are looking for Congress to expand summer food programs and extend free school meals to all children regardless of income. Republicans want to re-examine the nutrition standards that were put in place in 2010 and took effect in 2012. Those new standards, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama, require schools to serve more whole grains and less sodium. Both sides hope to pass a bill before 2016, when Congress is likely to become consumed with election-year politics. Read the mayor's letter here: Read my story here:

NORTHWELL’S LATEST INVESTMENT — Northwell Health will announce it is hiring Chad Bouton, a former lead researcher at Battelle, a medical device company, part of a larger strategy that sees the system investing in research and development for new therapies as it tries to diversify its revenue base. The hiring comes as Northwell Health is embarking on a $400 million project to build a new bioelectronic center that will help bring medical devices to market. The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, the research arm of Northwell, recently announced a deal with Battelle to create a neural tourniquet but hiring Bouton indicates Northwell would like to develop the products it designs without outside help. Read my story here: [PRO]

IN CASE YOU MISSED Because of a production error, health care newsletters on Wednesday were missing this item: NYU Langone Medical Center is announcing the creation of a new biologics program, signifying the health system's growing interest in pharmaceutical research, which could lead to new drugs, financial opportunities and a diversification of its business model. Read my story here:

Also: I provided the wrong link to yesterday’s Now We Know. For those interested in learning more about urine, here is the correct link.

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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 — Sex is good for your immune system, according to a study reported on in Newsweek. It also improves a woman’s chances of conceiving. Really. “According to new research, frequent coitus triggers the body’s natural defenses in positive ways and may jumpstart physiological changes that boost a woman’s chance for conceiving. The results of the study were published Tuesday in two papers, one in the journal Fertility and Sterility and another in the journal Physiology and Behavior.”

WE'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU: This roundup is for you, so please tell us how we can make it even better. Send tips, news, ideas, calendar items, releases, promotions, job postings, birthdays, congratulations, criticisms and corrections to

** 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 **

HHC EXPANDING INSURANCE OFFERING — MetroPlus Gold, the health insurance offered to employees of the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation, will now be offered to all city employees as well as those at CUNY, the MTA and Port Authority, according to HHC. HHC president and CEO Ram Raju hopes that by expanding this offering to roughly 800,000 public employees and their families, he can add new customers, generate new revenue and, ideally, develop a customer base that views the city hospitals as a first choice for medical care. As part of his plan to turn around the financially struggling public hospital system, Raju has said he will enroll a million MetroPlus members by the end of the decade. MetroPlus currently has fewer than 500,000. This latest announcement is one in a series of moves Raju has made over the past year to try to grow the public hospital system out of its projected $1.5 billion deficit. [PRO]

GRANT — Hansjörg Wyss — the former CEO of Synthes Inc., a medical device company bought by Johnson & Johnson — has given NYU School of Medicine $20 million to rename the Department of Plastic Surgery. The newly-named Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery is the largest academic group of board-certified plastic surgeons in the country, according to a press release from NYU.


-BIG SCOOP — The Boston Globe’s Stat project broke a big story, reporting that President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration “recently coauthored a series of scientific papers raising concerns about the agency’s oversight of clinical trials but asked that his name be removed before publication, according to other authors. Dr. Robert Califf, the Duke cardiologist first named a deputy commissioner in January and then nominated for the top post last month, was the driving force behind the series, which was published in the October issue of the journal Clinical Trials.”

-CRITIQUE OF THE TIMES — On Monday, I linked to an article from Margot Sanger-Katz who reported that the failures to enact a soda tax still helped spur a decrease in consumption. Jacob Sullum has a smart piece on why correlation may not mean causation. “Americans began drinking less soda nearly two decades before Berkeley approved a soda tax and San Francisco rejected one, both of which happened last year.”

-MEDICAID PAYING TO GET CARE — South Carolina’s Medicaid program pays recipients to receive care, according to Forbes. “Show up for an annual exam, and Medicaid patients not only receive the visits for free, but even get $25 a pop for making it to the appointments. Receive mammograms, and they get another $20 per test. Get a flu shot, and they can say hello to an Alexander Hamilton, whose visage adorns the $10 bill.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reminds us: “If you indoor tan before age 30, you have a 75 percent increased risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.”


-A REAL RUNNER’S HIGH — The New York Times says it isn’t endorphins that make us feel good after a long run. It’s the body’s own endocannabinoids, the chemicals that, like the cannabinoids in marijuana, lighten mood.

-BINGHAMTON BIOCHEMIST AND HEDGEHOGS — Brian Callahan, assistant professor of biological chemistry at Binghamton University, my alma mater, found that hedgehogs, which are proteins that determine how cells develop, can be used in the fight against cancer. Hedgehogs are supposed to turn off as we age but in certain cancers they turn back on and force uncontrolled cell growth. "Pharmaceutical companies have been after hedgehogs for years," Callahan said in a press release accompanying the article.

** 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: 10/6, 10/5, 10/2, 10/1, 9/30

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