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POLITICO New York Health Care, presented by PhRMA: Schneiderman examining price gouging; Young Women's Initiative

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written by Josefa Velasquez

PRICE GOUGING — Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office is looking into pharmaceutical price gouging, but it’s incumbent upon the federal government to come up with a solution, he told reporters at an event in Lower Manhattan on Thursday. “This is an area that we are involved in, and we have people with expertise, and we’re on top of the situation," Schneiderman told POLITICO New York after being asked if his office plans to investigate pharmaceutical prices. “I think [at] the moment, it appears that public pressure and embarrassment is having the first effect. But this is something that calls into relief some of the problems with the structure of our healthcare system and I think everyone who tries to get health care — whether it’s issues with insurance companies or issues with the the cost of pharmaceuticals — sees them every day.” [PRO]

...In late September, the Human Rights Campaign called on Schneiderman to investigate Turing Pharmaceuticals, which had come under fire for raising the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill. [PRO]

… Even though Turing CEO Martin Shkreli told ABC News in September the company would lower the cost of the Daraprim, it appears that hasn’t happened.

YOUNG WOMEN’S INITIATIVE — City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is launching the country's first Young Women's Initiative. The initiative, modeled after former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative, will be made up of community-based organizations, policy experts and women who will collect data, suggest changes in policy and make budget recommendations targeting the city’s black and Latina youth, POLITICO New York’s Gloria Pazmino reports. “We need to figure out what’s working, and what isn’t — because while we know young women are underserved and underrepresented, we know shockingly little about how to change that,” Mark-Viverito said. The group will focus on five areas: Women’s health, education, economic and workforce development, anti-violence and criminal justice and self-sufficiency and mobility. [PRO]

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NOW WE KNOW — Know-it-alls may in fact know it all, according to a study from Baylor University published in the Journal of Research in Personality. "One possibility is that people who view themselves as intellectually arrogant know what they know and that translates to increases in academic performance," researcher Wade Rowatt, a Baylor professor of psychology and neuroscience, said in a press release accompanying the article.

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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 **

BETTER HEALTH CARE ACCESS FOR IMMIGRANTS — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced a $6 million plan to provide the city’s undocumented immigrant population with improved access to health care. Next spring, the city will launch a program called Direct Access, a year-long effort to help coordinate access to care to approximately 1,000 uninsured immigrant New Yorkers. The program will be financed through a public-private partnership with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, as well as The Robin Hood Foundation and other private funders. [PRO]

CONCERNS OVER MANAGED CARE — Advocates for people with traumatic brain injury told an Assembly hearing Thursday that they remain concerned with the move from fee-for-service to managed care even after the state delayed implementation for one year. Representatives from the Brain Injury Association of New York State, which endorsed the delay, told members of the Assembly's health and mental health committees that they have “grave concerns about the services that will be available under this new program." Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who chairs the health committee, asked whether the state health department anticipates financial savings as a result of the move from fee-for-service to managed care for TBI waiver recipients. “We don’t anticipate any savings for '16-'17 or '17-'18,” Mark Kissinger, director of the department's Division of Long Term Services, said. “If this is not being done to control growth and cost, what is the rush on all of this?” Gottfried asked. Kissinger said the move to managed care would be a “better way to organize the health care system.” ” [PRO]

NYSNA THREATENING TO STRIKE AT N.J. HOSPITAL After postponing an announced strike in preparation for the potential impact of Hurricane Joaquin, the nurses union at Shore Medical Center in Somers Point has set a new strike date, according to a news release. The Shore Medical Nurses Union, an affiliate of the New York State Nurses Association, is now threatening to strike at 7 a.m. Oct. 22. The strike notice comes after the nurses failed to reach an agreement with the management of the South Jersey hospital after nearly a year of bargaining.

PHARMA REPORT — The Wall Street Journal reports: “Roche Holding AG’s Genentech unit said its experimental drug, ocrelizumab, proved effective in three late-stage studies against multiple sclerosis, potentially heralding an important new treatment option for the debilitating disease.”

INSURANCE REPORT — California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill requiring health plans to update their provider directories weekly, according to Southern California Public Radio. “The updates will include office location; whether the provider is accepting new patients and which languages, other than English, are spoken by the provider and staff.”


-THE STRUGGLE IS REAL — According to an online poll of 200 doctors, almost seven in eight think the move to ICD-10 has affected their patient care, POLITICO’s David Pittman reports. "Right now, it's about an extra 60-80 minutes per 12-hour ER shift," one doctor said. "Each diagnosis that used to be in the chart from past encounters can't be 'checked off,' it has to be re-translated to ICD-10." "ICD-10 is one more impediment to good medicine for the patient," an allergy and immunologist said. "It wastes too much time, decreasing the number of patients I can see a day." [PRO]

-PREMIUMS ON THE RISE — Premiums for individuals with Medicare Part B could increase by 5 percent, to $159.30 per month, in 2016, according to USA Today. Double that for couples.

-UPGRADE — is getting a facelift. Customers shopping for health insurance will see an update on the website’s window-shopping feature that allows consumers to browse through insurance plans, the Associated Press reports. Customers will be able to enter their doctors, hospitals and medications as they browse through plans to see if they are covered.

...Also, the Healthcare Association of New York State, or HANYS, got a new website.

-GOOD NEWS — The World Health Organization reports that not a single person tested positive for Ebola last week in Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone, the first time that’s happened since March 2014.

-MAYBE THE IUD — POLITICO reports on a study that found use of the IUD among U.S. women increased 33 percent between 2009 and 2012.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation: Want to lose weight? Cut everything you eat in half and before you start eating set aside a portion of your food for tomorrow.


-JITTERY LEGS — A study of a group of veterans, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, found that those with restless leg syndrome — the uncontrollable need to move your legs — had a higher risk for stroke, as well as heart and kidney disease.

-PRICE HIKE — POLITICO reports on a study from Duke University which found new cholesterol medications could cause premiums to rise by as much as $124. The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, apply if just 5 percent of the the 27 percent of U.S. adults ages 40 to 64 with high levels of bad cholesterol are eligible for the pricey new PCSK9 inhibitors, according to the researchers.

** 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 **

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