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POLITICO New York Health Care: Cuomo administration blames Obama administration; medical marijuana overhaul

08/31/2016 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

BLAME THE EPA - At the first of three hearings into the Hoosick Falls water pollution crisis on Tuesday, the message from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration was clear: the federal Environmental Protection Agency was at fault. For almost three hours, commissioners for the state departments of health and environmental conservation repeatedly cycled back to what they said were the EPA's failures to provide clear guidance on how to address pollution caused by PFOA, a chemical found in the village's water supply. Health commissioner Howard Zucker accused the EPA of sowing confusion and unnecessarily causing anxiety among vulnerable residents. "What we could use is a little less confusion from the EPA," he said.

...In an interview with POLITICO New York on Tuesday , EPA Region 2 administrator Judith Enck said the Cuomo administration was actually not confused by the recommended PFOA consumption limits, which had been 400 parts per trillion for years. The levels were lowered to 100 parts per trillion and then to 70 parts per trillion. At the time Cuomo administration officials were assuring residents their water was safe, the municipal water supply had already tested at 600 parts per trillion. "The EPA had numerous discussions with the state of New York," Enck said in an interview with POLITICO New York. "They were not confused, they disagreed. The reason they told EPA at the time was they felt like our 400 number had a large margin of safety and therefore they did not rely on that as the number to follow." Make sure you read POLITICO New York's Scott Waldman for the full story.

YOU PAY FOR IT - The Cuomo administration is requesting the Environmental Protection Agency pay for its "counterproductive" response to the Hoosick Falls water pollution crisis. Read the letter here:

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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

MEDICAL MARIJUANA OVERHAUL - The Cuomo administration on Tuesday announced plans to overhaul the state's struggling medical marijuana program, accepting its own health department recommendations that were released earlier this month.

...Hillary Peckham, an executive at Etain, one of the five companies licensed to grow and sell medical marijuana in New York said Tuesday she is "excited" at the prospect that the program could grow under changes proposed by the state, but would have liked a provision to add dispensary locations.

NOW WE KNOW - On Monday, I told you about some research from JAMA's Facial and Plastic Surgery that found men who undergo hair transplants are perceived to be more youthful, successful and attractive. ( Here is an accompanying editorial that really brings home the point.

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

ANOTHER WARNING - City health commissioner Mary Bassett was in Harlem Tuesday afternoon, again warning pregnant women not to travel to Zika-infected countries.

COMING SOON - The Albany Business Review reports: "Albany's small employers will have more options to choose from when they look to purchase health insurance for 2017. That's because Empire BlueCross plans to boost the number of plans it offers businesses with fewer than 100 employees and to compete more heavily in the Albany area. The insurer, a subsidiary of Anthem Inc., will begin marketing its new options for small groups in September."

EXPANSION PLANS - Buffalo Business first reports: "Two health centers have plans to spend more than $500,000 to expand programs to reach rural, underserved patients."

ACROSS THE RIVER - POLITICO New Jersey's Katie Jennings has the single smartest take on the health care battle boiling in the Garden State. This is a must-read piece even for New York readers because it so plainly illustrates the fault lines in the health care world, and the high-stakes battle between payers and providers where the government tries, often unsuccessfully, to act as referee:

PHARMA REPORT: More bad new for Theranos, from the Wall Street Journal: "Theranos Inc. withdrew its request for emergency clearance of a Zika-virus blood test after federal regulators found that the company didn't include proper patient safeguards in a study of the new test, said people familiar with the matter."


-FASCINATING FEUD - STAT reports: "A crucial clinical trial of the most promising new treatment for Parkinson's disease in decades might be delayed because of a feud between a key scientist and the influential Michael J. Fox Foundation."

...The Foundation's response: "The Michael J. Fox Foundation is aware of a broadly misrepresentative media report on our actions related to the clinical development of nilotinib, an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia, as a potential Parkinson's disease (PD) treatment. While Phase I clinical results testing nilotinib have shown early promise in people with PD, it is important to remain mindful of the limitations of open-label clinical trials in Parkinson's, which have been shown to be disproportionately affected by placebo response. Additionally, much work remains to be done to establish the safety of nilotinib outside the context of cancer."

-OUT OF MONEY - The New York Times reports: "The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that federal funds to fight the Zika virus were nearly exhausted, and that if Congress did not replenish them soon, there would be no money to fight a new outbreak."

-SKY'S THE LIMIT - Utah air ambulances can charge an enormous sum. Here's a story of a $46,000 bill for a 50-mile trip.

TODAY'S TIP - Comes from the Cleveland Clinic, which offers advice on taming your nose-hair jungle.


-MATTERS OF THE HEART - Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai created a model of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy using stem cell lines. The disease is characterized by an excessive thickening of the heart that correlates with other illnesses, according to the study published in Stem Cell Reports. This is cool.

-DISTURBING - A strain of E. coli resistant to two, last-line-of-defense antibiotics has been detected in the United States in a 2-year-old urine sample, according to a report published in the American Society for Microbiology.

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