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POLITICO New York Health Care: Rivington's man behind the curtain; Sinai dean shot

08/30/2016 10:00 AM EDT

Good morning! You are receiving the complimentary synopsis of the POLITICO New York Pro Health Care newsletter. Pro subscribers are receiving an enhanced version of this newsletter at 5:45 a.m. each weekday, which includes a look-ahead and robust analysis of health care policy news driving the day. If you would like the Pro version of this newsletter, along with customized real-time insights on New York health care, please contact us here and we will set you up with trial access. Thank you for reading!

written by Dan Goldberg

NO GOOD DEED - When the owners of the Rivington House sought state approval in 2014 to convert the property from an AIDS treatment facility to a general nursing home, they enlisted a powerful figure in the state's health care firmament. Jeffrey Sachs, the elusive and influential head of a health care consulting firm with close ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, worked as a consultant to VillageCare, the former operator of the treatment facility, which needed a dizzying array of state approvals in order to sell the Lower East Side property. Sachs, who served as an usher at Cuomo's wedding and as a godfather to one of his daughters, was one of several powerful figures in state health policy who helped secure the necessary sign-off for VillageCare to transfer the nursing home's operations to the Allure Group in the fall of 2014. The property has since become the focus of several city, state and federal investigations after the Allure Group re-sold the property for a $72 million profit to a developer who plans to build luxury housing on the site. While those investigations have largely focused on the city's decision to lift a deed restriction on the property, they have also offered an unprecedented glimpse into how the state came to approve, and even expedite, Allure's right to run the nursing home. Documents made public by the city's Department of Investigation and city comptroller, respectively, along with the results of Freedom of Information Law requests filed by POLITICO New York, shed new light on the powerful figures - inside and outside state government - who helped Allure Group to take control of the site. POLITICO New York's Laura Nahmias has more:

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AND MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW Josefa Velasquez and me on Twitter @J__Velasquez & @DanCGoldberg. And for all New Jersey health news, check out @katiedjennings

SINAI MEDICAL SCHOOL DEAN SHOT - A disgruntled former employee at the Icahn School of Medicine shot the school's dean on Monday outside a deli in Chappaqua, according to Ken Davis, Mount Sinai's CEO and New Castle police. A video of the arraignment can be seen here:

HOOSICK HELL - One day before a state Senate hearing on the water pollution crisis in Hoosick Falls, the state Department of Environmental Conservation on Monday declared the former town dumps in Hoosick Falls and nearby sburgh potential Superfund sites. POLITICO New York's Scott Waldman has more:

NOW WE KNOW - Research presented at this year's World Congress of Anaesthesiologists in Hong Kong shows giving kids iPads to distract them before surgery requiring general anaesthesia is as effective at lowering their anxiety as conventional sedatives. That means the iPad beat out midazolam, a common sedative used to calm kids before they are given general anaesthesia.

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

CORRECTION - In Monday's newsletter, I mentioned Donald Trump's physician Dr. Harold Bornstein and said he was based at Lenox Hill Hospital. Bornstein has admitting privileges but is not employed by the hospital. A spokeswoman for Lenox Hill confirmed that Bornstein is in private practice, does not have an office at Lenox Hill and does not see patients at the hospital.

FINANCES - Beth Israel Medical Center reported an operating loss of $110 million in 2015, according to the latest financial report from Mount Sinai Health, which is moving to drastically reduce the size of the facility and reshape health care in lower Manhattan.

...St. Luke's-Roosevelt lost $13 million in 2015, which was an improvement over the $20 million operating loss reported in 2014.

...New York Eye and Ear Infirmary had an operating loss of $6.6 million in 2015, down from a $8.6 million gain in 2014.

...But fortunes appear to be turning in 2016. The Health system, as a whole, reported an operating gain of $66.2 million through the first six months of the year. That's more than twice the amount reported for the same time period in 2015.

MORE FINANCES - Northwell Health reported an operating income of $66.5 million through the first six months of 2016, up from the $52.7 million the system reported for the same period in 2015.

...The report also states that CareConnect, the insurance arm of Northwell, expects to lose $110 million in 2016, in large part because of the Affordable Care Act's controversial risk adjustment program. If changes aren't made to the program, CareConnect management, according to the financial report, would "reconsider continued participation in the insurance market, or specific insurance products."

ENDORSEMENTS - The New York State Nurses Association on Monday issued a series of endorsements for the upcoming primary and general election for both the Assembly and Senate. Read the full list here:

GRANT LAND - Dr. Jacqueline Achkar, associate professor of medicine and microbiology & immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine received a five-year, $3.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to find biomarkers that signal an increase in the bacterium that cause Tuberculosis among people living with HIV.

...The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo named Kaleida Health and its "Survivor Steps" cancer rehab and recovery program the recipient of a $13,000 grant.

OPENING DAY - Southside Hospital on Monday unveiled the expanded Bohlsen Family Emergency Department, a $60 million project named for John and Linda Bohlsen, which adds 30,000 square feet of new space, tripling the size of the facility.

ACROSS THE RIVER - Gov. Chris Christie caught flak from members of his party when he became one of the first Republican governors to support Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act. On Monday, some two and a half years after New Jersey began participating in the optional program, Christie responded to his critics.

PHARMA REPORT: Mylan is still trying to do damage control following the outage over price hikes for the EpiPen. The company will launch within several weeks the first generic version of its EpiPen, at a 50 percent discount from the branded version. At $300, the so-called "authorized-generic" will still be more than three times the price of the EpiPen when Mylan acquired the product in 2007.

...Mylan's decision to market an authorized generic as a cheaper alternative to its branded EpiPen is yet another smokescreen to disguise the company's drug pricing practices, which take advantage of inefficiencies and tricks built into the U.S. drug market, critics told my colleagues at POLITICO.


-RULE CHANGE - CMS may make additional changes to special enrollment periods for exchange plans, the agency said in new proposed regulations issued this afternoon. The language in the proposed rule comes amid ongoing concerns that sicker and more expensive patients are enrolling during the special sign-up windows, driving up insurers' costs. Read the rule here:

...Perhaps even more important, the Obama administration is considering changing the rules to the risk adjustment program. The plan calls for risk adjustment, beginning in 2018, to use prescription drug data when calculating a plan's risk score.

-A SMALL QUESTION - The New York Times says parents are more often asking their pediatrician whether their son's penis is too small.

-TAKE A SHOT - Pediatricians should take a tougher stand against vaccine hesitancy, according to a policy statement issued Monday in the American Academy of Pediatrics.

-OVERCHARGED - NPR reports: "More than three dozen just-released audits reveal how some private Medicare plans overcharged the government for the majority of elderly patients they treated, often by overstating the severity of certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and depression."

-CLINTON'S MENTAL HEALTH PLAN - Hillary Clinton released a mental health care plan on Monday, aimed at ensuring that Americans would no longer separate mental health from physical health in terms of access, care and quality of treatment, the Associated Press reports.

TODAY'S TIP - Comes from Voltaire, who once said, "I have decided to be happy, because it is good for my health."


-ZIKA TRANSMISSION - The New York Times reports: "The Zika virus can be transmitted by a female mosquito to her eggs, eventually infecting her adult daughters, researchers reported on Monday. But mother-daughter transmission happens so rarely among mosquitoes that it is probably not an important factor in the global Zika epidemic, according to the lead author of the study, published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene."

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