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written by Josefa Velasquez
MONEY FOR STRUGGLING HOSPITALS — New York state is making available up to $300 million for hospitals that are losing money in communities that lack other options. The money comes from the state's Essential Healthcare Provider Support Program, which was allocated in this year's budget and seeded with $355 million from bank settlements. Applicants must explain how they will use the money to improve their financial outlook or preserve essential health services in their community, but the health commissioner, who will award the grants, appears to allow wide leeway for how the money may be spent. The money may be used for capital projects and debt retirement but not for personnel or supplies. The money, according to the budget language, may be used to facilitate "mergers, consolidation and restructuring," activities that would be consistent with the smaller community hospitals trying to become financially stable by latching on to larger, more-stable health systems. Read the whole story here: http://politi.co/1M906tD. See the application here: http://on.ny.gov/202oJ5G
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TRANSGENDER PROTECTIONS — Gov. Andrew Cuomo Thursday night unveiled his plan to circumvent the state Legislature and use the regulatory process to prohibit discrimination against transgender New Yorkers. Cuomo said he would direct the state Division of Human Rights to issue regulations that prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. The plan is “effectively the same” as passing the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that has stalled in the Republican-led state Senate. http://politi.co/1NWPvJ4
...Scratch that one off the list. GENDA was one of the policy recommendations in Cuomo’s blueprint to end the AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020. Among the other recommendations were increased access to condoms, doubling the number of people on antiretroviral therapy, syringe decriminalization and the Healthy Teens Act, a bill that would establish an age-appropriate sex education grant program within the Department of Health. Read our story from June. http://politi.co/1LEg6aZ
NOW WE KNOW — Want to improve your relationship? Show a little gratitude to that special someone. Researchers at the University of Georgiafound that feeling appreciated influences how you manage your marriage. http://bit.ly/1W7hgxz
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
** 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 http://bit.ly/1O64IWa **
NEW CONTRACTS — The board of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation voted Thursday to approve two new employment contracts for staff at Rikers Island and other city jails. The move follows Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision to entrust the city's public hospital system with health services at jails after Corizon Health, a private, for-profit company, came under scrutiny for allegedly mistreating inmates, and negligence that contributed to at least a dozen deaths.The clinicians will be employed through the Physician Affiliate Group of New York (PAGNY), an employment group that contracts with other HHC hospitals and is led by former HHC president Luis Marcos.The two-year, $192.8 million contract, paid for with city funds, will take effect Jan. 1, ending a 14-year relationship with Corizon. http://politi.co/1W6J2dF
HOW THE DEAL WAS UNDONE — Residents of Columbia University’s Family Residency Medicine Program, in a letter to the American Academy of Family Physicians, tell of their shock upon learning that the school and hospital intended to end their program. And then they tell how they organized to keep it open. “Instead, the shell-shocked primary care physicians in the room were simply told that delivering high-quality primary care in the Manhattan/Washington Heights community was no longer a strategic priority for NYP and that the hospital planned to expand its ambulatory clinics in wealthier areas of the state, such as Westchester, and focus its resources on high-margin subspecialty care. … And yet, what also is incredible is that less than 36 hours after they handed down their brazen edict, they took it all back. What happened during those hours was truly amazing. Moments after the decision was handed down to us in that packed and somber room, the residents and faculty began mobilizing. Residents taught faculty how to send their first tweets. Medical students who heard about the decision via texts and social media began organizing a massive town hall meeting and demanded the dean attend to explain the decision. Sympathetic journalists quickly found out about the decision and began reporting. Government officials from New York City Hall to the White House were quickly briefed on the situation and began advocating on family medicine's behalf.” http://bit.ly/202o0BA
CAMPAIGN AGAINST CUTS — The Greater New York Hospital Association and 1199 SEIU are running ads in the Washington, D.C., area to discourage Congress from voting for cuts to hospitals. GNYHA and the health care workers union’s Health Education Project are running print ads in the Washington Post and the D.C. editions of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Roll Call, POLITICO and The Hill urging lawmakers not to cut hospital funding to pay for other priorities. HEP will begin airing TV and radio ads in the area and on news websites next week.
FLUORIDATION — The New York State Department of Health is now accepting grant applications from municipalities wishing to install, repair, replace or upgrade fluoride equipment in drinking water facilities. The state budget makes $4 million available for this project. Applicants may request between $50,001 and $1 million in funding. Read more here: http://on.ny.gov/201STWP
COMMON RIGHTS — The Associated Press reports: “New York's top court says a mentally ill patient involuntarily sent to a psychiatric hospital has a common law right to challenge detention once the court order for treatment expires. The Court of Appeals, split 5-1, says New York's mental health statute governs such challenges by patients who believe they have sufficiently recovered, but it doesn't preclude filing a writ of habeas corpus against unlawful imprisonment.” http://bit.ly/202mT4O
ACROSS THE RIVER — The nurse who was quarantined in Newark last year after she returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone sued Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday, accusing him of unconstitutionally holding her against her will. Kaci Hickox was detained for three days at University Hospital after arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport. Christie, along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, had instituted a mandatory 21-day quarantine for people returning from Ebola-affected West African countries. In her lawsuit, filed in federal court in Newark, Hickox claims Christie and Mary O’Dowd, the state's health commissioner at the time, deprived her of her constitutional right to due process and “illegally and unconstitutionally” held her against her will. “I never had Ebola. I never had symptoms of Ebola. I tested negative for Ebola the first night I stayed in New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s private prison,” Hickox said in a statement. POLITICO New Jersey’s Katie Jennings has more: http://politi.co/1Xn9ja1
PHARMA REPORT — AbbVie’s hepatitis C drug, Viekira Pak, is blamed for liver failure and death in seven patients, Bloomberg News reports. Hepatitis C drugs are already raising eyebrows because of their high costs. If one can’t be used because of side effects, it will make it that much harder for benefit managers to bargain for a better price. “Express Scripts Holding Co., the nation’s largest manager of drug benefits for employers and insurers, has an agreement to offer coverage exclusively for AbbVie’s hepatitis C regimen instead of Gilead’s, in exchange for a discount. Express Scripts will evaluate the FDA alert ‘to determine if any additional action is required,’ especially in patients with liver damage, spokesman Brian Henry said in an e-mail.” The medication is AbbVie’s second-best selling drug. http://bloom.bg/201RLT3
-J&J WINS TYLENOL SUIT — ProPublica reports: “A jury in Atlantic City has handed Johnson & Johnson a victory in a lawsuit alleging that Tylenol, the popular pain reliever, was defectively designed.” http://bit.ly/201RYpa
WHAT WE’RE READING:
-THREE WEEKS IN — Twenty-two days into ICD-10, the new coding system for diseases and health-related problems, the transition appears to be going smoothly. But it’s too early to tell about the potential disruptions to medical practices. POLITICO’s David Pittman has more: “For all the hype and anticipation of disruptions to medical practices, the first few weeks in ICD-10 land have been largely uneventful. But those watching the switch to the more complex medical coding system say it's a tad too early to give an all clear.‘The sky didn't fall on Oct. 1,’ says Ed Hock, managing director of performance technologies at the Advisory Board Company, a giant health consultant.Most providers, health insurers, tech companies and others involved in the transition have reported only a few hiccups in the first few weeks, with the most common complaint being added time spent coding.Even among small medical groups, which were particularly worried, things seem to be going well.” http://politico.pro/1RqIJJf [PRO]
-ABOUT THOSE PART B PREMIUMS — Republicans and Democrats agree they must do something to avoid a Medicare Part B premium spike. But they can’t agree on what. Republicans want to pay for the $10.5 billion fix by cutting Medicare spending, according to Morning Consult. That’s a non-starter with Democrats, who don’t see the need to pay for the fix at all. http://bit.ly/201SiV8
- ABOLISH IT — Former neurosurgeon and Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson wants to cut Medicaid and Medicare entirely. POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney and Jason Millman report: “Carson, who now leads the GOP field in Iowa, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll, would eliminate the program that provides health care to 49 million senior citizens, as well as Medicaid, and replace it with a system of cradle-to-grave savings accounts which would be funded with $2,000 a year in government contributions. While rivals have been pummeled for proposing less radical changes, Carson hasn't faced the same scrutiny — and his continued traction in polls has left GOP strategists and conservative health care wonks scratching their heads … Carson's stance on the third-rail issue of Medicare is especially risky given his strength among elderly voters.” http://politi.co/1kxyOHy
-STILL VULNERABLE — The Government Accountability Office told Congress that Healthcare.gov, the federal exchange, and state-based health insurance exchanges remain vulnerable to fraud. Read their testimony here: http://1.usa.gov/202kMhx
TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the state’s Department of Health. Three out of four people with hepatitis C are baby boomers, so get tested.
-DETERMINING DEATH — Researchers at the University of Melbourne identified a molecular byproduct of inflammation that appears to predict premature death due to infections like pneumonia or sepsis. The findings, in the journal Cell Systems, found that high levels of GlycA — the byproduct — in the blood indicate a state of chronic inflammation. The inflammation damages the body and renders people susceptible to severe infections. http://bit.ly/1jDetQR
-CORRELATION — Children who are regularly on antibiotics gain weight faster than those who have never been, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity. The study of 163,820 children between the ages of 3 and 18 found that one in five had been prescribed antibiotics seven or more times. And by the time those children reached 15, they weighed an average of 3 pounds more than the children who were never on antibiotics. http://nyti.ms/1RrieDr
** 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 http://bit.ly/1O64IWa **
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