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POLITICO New York Health Care, presented by PhRMA: Health department doesn't want you holding your breath underwater

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

DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH — New York City wants to require all its swimming pools post signs warning swimmers of the dangers of holding their breath underwater, potentially ending the tradition of swimmers amusing themselves by competing to see who can hold their breath the longest. The city health department says most swimmers are unaware of the risks involved with holding your breath underwater, which lowers levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body and can cause swimmers to lose consciousness. [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

WHOOPING COUGH IN BROOKLYN — There have been 88 reported cases of pertussis during the last six months in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Crown Heights, Williamsburg and Borough Park, according to the city's health department. That's more than four times as many as there were during the prior six months. Most of those infected are children and more than half have not been vaccinated. Of the 37 mothers of infants with pertussis, only three received the recommended tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination during their most recent pregnancy, according to the health department.

NOW WE KNOW — Researchers at the University of Southern Californiaare finally getting to the bottom of the vexing philosophical question: Why are email responses so terse? The paper, "Evolutions of Conversations in the Age of Email Overload," is the largest study of email to date. They found that 90 percent of people respond to an email within two days, if they plan to respond at all. So, if you haven’t heard in a week, it’s probably not an oversight. The most likely reply time is two minutes, and half of responders will respond in just under an hour. Younger people also reply faster. And men reply faster than women. Emails with only five words are the most common. More than half the email replies are less than 43 words, and only 30 percent of emails are longer than 100 words.

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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 **

AD ATTACK — Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is launching an inquiry into Interim Healthcare Inc. of Nanuet after a job listing in the New York Saver newspaper requested no Haitian nurses apply. The Oct. 15 ad in the local pennysaver, first noted by state Sen. David Carlucci, requested “laid back nurse, no Haitians.” Read more here:

HERBAL VIAGRA — State Sen. Jose Peralta has drafted legislation that would impose fines on storeowners who sell herbal supplements designed to mitigate erectile dysfunction or to enhance sexual performance. As reported by POLITICO New York last week, Peralta said he is planning to introduce the bill as a “reaction” to retired basketball star Lamar Odom’s hospitalization, which reportedly involved a cocktail of drugs, including so-called "herbal Viagra." The legislation, co-sponsored with state Sen. Jeff Klein, would authorize local law enforcement to fine store and bodega owners $2,000 on their first offense when they are caught selling the supplement.

BIG PROBLEM — Overweight and obese adults are costing Central New York an estimated $545 million a year in excess medical spending, according to a report by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, the Syracuse Post-Standard reports.

...It’s more than $800 million in Western New York, according to the Buffalo News.

GRANT LAND — The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is receiving a $15 million grant to invest in infrastructure, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday. The funding will go toward connecting the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, which is under construction, to other Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus structures. As part of $39.2 million in economic development funding for 34 projects, St. ’s Health Partners in the Capital Region will also receive a $1.25 million grant to build a 570-space parking deck.

...Buffalo-based Roswell Park Cancer Institute received $7.2 million in grants for the third quarter. Katerina Gurova, an assistant professor of oncology in the Department of Cell Stress Biology, received two awards totaling $2.42 million from the National Cancer Institute for work that focuses on cells that initiate tumors or cancer stem cells, according to a press release.

Mikhail Nikiforov, a professor in the same department, was granted a five-year, $2.02 million grant from NCI. Read the full list here:

MAKING ROUNDS — Americare announced Monday that it has hired Bridget Gallagher to lead the day-to-day operations for its licensed home care services agency and other projects. She has 25 years of experience and previously worked at Jewish Home Lifecare. She currently serves on the board of the NYS Home Care Association.

PHARMA REPORT — Austin Frakt makes the case for reference pricing as a way to control drug costs. Reference pricing occurs when drugs of a same class are grouped together. Insurance companies then pay one price, the reference price, for the class. If the drug company wants to charge more, the consumer pays the difference out of pocket. Political viability aside, there are good reasons our system needs fixing. Here’s but one: “As it stands, other countries are far ahead of the United States in pricing drugs to promote cost-effective pharmaceutical innovation. But interest is growing here in new approaches. B. Bach, a physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, recently proposed a variation on reference pricing that considers how the cost-effectiveness of a cancer drug varies by what disease it is used to treat. He noted that the drug Tarceva costs the same whether it is used to treat patients with a kind of lung cancer or patients with pancreatic cancer. But the results are wildly different. On average, Tarceva extends a lung cancer patient’s life by just over three months; it extends a typical pancreatic cancer patient’s life by a mere week and a half.”


-MEETING OF THE MINDS — POLITICO reports: “Representative of America's Health Insurance Plans, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and about a dozen insurance companies met with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell last week to express concerns about the funding shortfall for the risk corridors program. The upshot of the meeting: The department's hands are tied in terms of allocating any additional money right now, according to a source briefed on the discussion.”

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from Jamaica Hospital, which reminds us: “Maintaining a healthy body image is important. A good body image benefits your emotional health.”


-ASD CAUSE — Researchers at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research discovered an antibody that can lead to abnormal brain development and Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms. Their findings will be presented Wednesday at the 45th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, according to a press release from the Institute. The researchers, according to the release, found that a particular monoclonal antibody isolated from a mother caused structural brain changes and ASD-like behaviors in male children because it was attacking a protein on the membrane of brain cells that is key in neuronal morphology and function.

-RISING COSTS — When hospitals buy medical practice groups, costs go up. POLITICO reports: “That's the conclusion from a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine, showing that contrary to expectations, hospitals that acquire physician practices don't help them realize efficiencies and save on costs. The main cost driver: higher prices for outpatient services - not service use.” The study:

** 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: 10/19, 10/16, 10/15, 10/14, 10/13

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