By Dan Goldberg | 12/20/2017 05:51 AM EDT

PROGRAMMING NOTEPOLITICO New York Health Care will not publish from Dec. 25Jan. 1. Our next POLITICO New York Health Care newsletter will publish on Tuesday, Jan. 2. Please continue to follow Pro New York health care issues here.

TODAY IN HEALTH — Staff and patients will be joined by first lady Chirlane McCray to open the Pride Health Center at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull. The event takes place at 1:30 p.m. at Woodhull.

… Advocates for direct care workers will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. at 706 N. Clinton Street in Syracuse to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to accelerate the living wage that was given them in the most recent budget.

A HEALTH CHECK FOR DE BLASIO — Mayor Bill de Blasio doesn’t talk much about health care. His signature achievements — the ones he points to when discussing his legacy, the ones he ran on during his campaign for reelection — are in education and affordable housing. That has invited comparisons to his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was much more vocal about the importance of public health and pushed a set of policies — not always successfully — that put New York City at the vanguard of the nation. As de Blasio readies for a second term, he faces little public criticism over how he has handled public health. But the lack of animating ideas that advocates grew used to under Bloomberg has invited concern the mayor may not be as aggressive as he could in the public health arena.

… The mayor’s defenders say that to see the totality of his public health achievements, you have to broaden the lens to include policies that don’t typically fall under the rubric of health. De Blasio’s signature pre-K program may prove to do more for public health than anything else the administration achieves. Housing is among the most important predictors of health and the mayor has an ambitious affordable housing plan. The problem with the broad public health lens argument is that the mayor’s defenders cling to it only when it works in their favor. If Vision Zero is a public health success because safer streets make it easier for people to walks, then the mayor’s opposition to congestion pricing, which Bloomberg supported and linked to reducing asthma rates, should be viewed as a public health failing. So should his punting on supervised injection facilities, which could help reduce opioid-related deaths. So, too, his politically expedient, short-lived deal with certain Orthodox Jews who practice metzitzah b’peh, a controversial practice during which the mohel suctions blood from the open wound, which has been linked to neonatal herpes. Read my whole story here.

SESSION IS COMING — There’s less than two weeks to go before lawmakers return to Albany for the start of the 2018 legislative session. We want to hear your top priorities, budget asks and nonstarters, and how this all plays out with the 2018 election in the background. Reach out to Nick at or call him at 518-703-6135.

MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW Dan on Twitter @DanCGoldberg and Nick @NickNiedz. And for all New Jersey health news, check out @katiedjennings.

BILL TRACKER — Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation that would have increased the Supplemental Security Income rate by $4 per resident, per day for the next five years — a total of $20 per day by 2022. Operators of adult homes had been hoping that Cuomo would approve the first rate increase since 2007 and the second increase since 1992. In his veto message, Cuomo said this was one of a series of bills that would add hundreds of millions of dollars in “unbudgeted costs” and that increased payment rates should be negotiated during the budget sessions. The current rate is $41 per day, per resident, paid for by both the state and federal government. The federal portion has increased incrementally over the years, but the state’s contribution has remained the same for a decade. Read more here.

… School-based health centers will be carved out of Medicaid managed care until 2021 under an agreement reached between the state Legislature and Cuomo. On Monday, Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have permanently carved the state’s 250 school-based health centers out of the Medicaid managed care model. In his veto message , the governor said the legislation set a “bad precedent” and does not align with his administration’s long-term strategy, but he recognized that these programs need more time to implement care coordination strategies.

… Cuomo vetoed legislation that would have created a new definition for safety net hospitals and required the administration to provide a higher Medicaid rate to those newly designated hospitals. This is the second consecutive year the governor has vetoed the legislation, saying that it would have increased Medicaid funding without specifying how the state would pay for this new obligation or how much it would cost.

…The governor vetoed three pieces of legislation that would have required the state Department of Health to conduct asthma studies in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Cuomo vetoed similar legislation last year that related only to the Bronx. Cuomo said he objected to the bills, including NY S3103 (17R) , because they “focus on a one-off local public health solution,” which does not align with the state’s broader public health mission. Cuomo also objected to the $3 million estimated cost of the studies. No funding mechanism was provided in the legislation.

… Cuomo also vetoed a bill that would have required the Office of Children and Family Services to study staffing levels at OCFS facilities. In his veto message, Cuomo pointed out that the current model exceeds national standards and that the legislation provides no funding source to pay for the study.

… The governor also vetoed a bill that would have ended the competitive solicitation process for assisted living program beds and, in its place, created a new certificate of need process. Cuomo, in his veto message, said that would expand ALP slots beyond existing budget allocations.

… Under legislation signed Monday by Cuomo, New Yorkers with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or any other inflammatory bowel disease, or diseases that requires immediate access to a toilet can now go into any business that has a bathroom and use it even if it is typically only available to employees. The manager has a right to ask for proof of the medical condition and can deny access if there are fewer than two people working at the time, or if it creates a health or security risk.

… Cuomo also signed a bill that codifies existing state programs for people with developmental disabilities. The three-year program ensures the OPWDD commissioner will continue to offer services such as community habilitation, in-home respite, pathways to employment and community prevocational services.

Here are a couple more pieces of legislation that Cuomo acted upon:


A5175A: Gottfried — Relates to notice of eligibility for medical assistance under the excess income program

S5544: Hannon — Changes the effective date of provisions for fiscal intermediary certification under the consumer directed personal assistance program

S6565: Marchione — Examines the need for standards for the designation of therapy dogs

S6768: Flanagan — Relates to requiring that all RPNs either have or obtain a bachelor’s degree within 10 years of initial licensure


S2836: Ortt — Relates to notice of the potential for significant service reductions to persons with mental illness

S5662A: Valesky — Establishes the rate of medical assistance payments for care to recipients in hospice residences

S6559: Hannon — Expands payments for reserved bed days in residential health care facilities; repealer

S6689: Amedore — Relates to not-for-profit pharmacies operated by an institution of higher education

S6750: Hannon — Relates to disposal sites operated by pharmacies

NOW WE KNOW — A rude waiter can be enough to make the meal less tasty for some people, according to researcher Jaehoon Lee of Southern Illinois University. This applies to lower classes of people, according to the study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. “This is because lower class individuals tend to perceive situations as interconnected and holistic,” Lee said in a press release accompanying the article. “People who have less economic resources, for example, may turn to others for help and feel more dependent, so are more attuned to external circumstances.”

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TRUMP HALTS MEDICAID FUNDS FOR DELIVERY SYSTEM REFORM — The Trump administration released new guidance that could make it a little harder for New York to renew its Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program, the cornerstone of the Cuomo administration’s efforts to reform Medicaid. In a letter sent to the 50 state Medicaid directors, the Trump administration said it will no longer accept state proposals for new or renewed Medicaid waivers that rely on federal matching funds for DSHP. If New York would like to renew its waiver, it would need to negotiate a different financing strategy than it had in 2014, and find the money from another pot. More here.

CHIP CLOCK — It’s been 81 days since Congress let the Children’s Health Insurance Program lapse.

… Connecticut became the latest state to say it will begin notifying families that CHIP coverage will stop at the end of January, unless Congress steps up to renew federal funding.

CHIP ON THE AGENDA — Senate GOP leaders are planning to load up this week’s must-pass spending bill with contentious provisions ranging from Obamacare subsidies to surveillance powers, the No. 2 Republican said Tuesday. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters Tuesday afternoon that the stopgap spending bill would serve as a catchall for a spate of “must-do” policy items — offering the clearest signal yet of the chamber’s plan to avoid a shutdown on Friday. Cornyn’s checklist includes broadly bipartisan initiatives like funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, disaster recovery dollars and veterans’ health care. Read more from our D.C. colleagues here.

UNABLE TO FLUSH — Patients on the first floor of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center have been able to use the showers or toilets because of a water main break, according to the Buffalo News. The same issue kept Niagara Falls High School closed on Monday and Tuesday. Nurses have been carrying buckets of water throughout the hospital to keep things flowing. Read more here.

KALEIDA MAKES MOVE — The Buffalo News reports: “Kaleida Health will become the active parent of Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport next year, once state and federal regulators approve the deal. The announcement Tuesday emphasized that the arrangement is not a merger, but the Eastern Niagara board’s future actions will be only recommendations to Kaleida’s board, which will have the final say. In addition, Eastern Niagara’s longtime CEO, Clare A. Haar, will depart once the transition is completed, likely by mid-2018.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT — The New York Times had a story Friday about the challenges of being an obstetrician in the Bronx. It can hinder your career. “The difficulties of being an expectant mother in the Bronx are well known: A 2016 report found that the borough consistently had the city’s highest rates of life-threatening complications during childbirth, with those dangers arising there in 296 of every 10,000 deliveries between 2008 and 2012, compared to 230 citywide. Less frequently discussed are the effects on obstetricians practicing in the Bronx. High-risk pregnancies are by definition more taxing for physicians. And the heightened likelihood of something going wrong may in turn increase the likelihood of a malpractice lawsuit. … Malpractice insurance premiums are higher in the Bronx than almost anywhere else in the country, a reflection of the frequency of lawsuits and the large payouts juries have ordered in the past, said Michael Matray, editor of the Medical Liability Monitor, a newsletter that publishes an annual survey of malpractice premiums for individual physicians. Obstetrics and gynecology command some of the highest premiums of any specialty.”


FOLLOW THE MONEY — Kaiser Health News reports the pharmaceutical industry spent millions to squelch talk about high drug prices. “Facing bipartisan hostility over high drug prices in an election year, the pharma industry’s biggest trade group boosted revenue by nearly a fourth last year and spread the millions collected among hundreds of lobbyists, politicians and patient groups, new filings show.”

GENE THERAPY — The Associated Press reports : “U.S. health officials on Tuesday approved the nation’s first gene therapy for an inherited disease, a treatment that improves the sight of patients with a rare form of blindness. It marks another major advance for the emerging field of genetic medicine. The approval for Spark Therapeutics offers a life-changing intervention for a small group of patients with a vision-destroying genetic mutation and hope for many more people with other inherited diseases. The drugmaker said it will not disclose the price until next month, delaying debate about the affordability of a treatment that analysts predict will be priced around $1 million.”

CRACKDOWN — The Washington Post reports: “The Food and Drug Administration on Monday proposed a tougher enforcement policy toward homeopathic drugs, saying it would target products posing the greatest safety risks, including those containing potentially harmful ingredients or being marketed for cancer, heart disease and opioid and alcohol addictions…The FDA’s proposed approach, outlined in a draft guidance that will be open for public for 90 days, comes more than a year after homeopathic teething tablets and gels containing belladonna were linked to 400 injuries and the deaths of 10 children.”

FDA OKs PIONEERING GENE THERAPY — The Food and Drug Administration approved Spark Therapeutics’ Luxturna to treat children and adults with an inherited form of vision loss that may result in blindness. The approval marks the first gene therapy approved in the United States for an inherited disease. The novel treatment is expected to come with an unprecedented price tag. Financial analysts are expecting the cost to be between $650,000 and $1 million, MarketWatch reported . Spark said it will not announce the price of Luxturna until early next year. About 1,000 to 2,000 U.S. patients are estimated to have the gene targeted by the new treatment.