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POLITICO New York Health Care: You gotta have heart -- Utica update -- Excellus fined

By Dan Goldberg | 04/18/2017 09:58 AM EDT

MATTERS OF THE HEART — Giant scissors cut through a blue ribbon at Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital earlier this year, signifying not just the opening of Northwell's new heart hospital but the latest salvo in a growing battle for cardiology patients being waged among New York's elite health systems. The renewed competition is the result of a confluence of forces, some spurred by the federal and state government, others by medical advances that have together combined for an increased need to attract patients suffering from cardiovascular disease, the most common killer in the United States. Read my story here.

UTICA UPDATE — Mohawk Valley Health System last week was awarded a $300 million grant from the state for a new hospital in Oneida County that will consolidate St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton St.Luke's. The health system has to work out a contract agreement with the state's Department of Health on how the money will be allocated. After completing the contract with the DOH, MVHS plans on setting up meetings with 36 property owners who have land in the area identified for the new hospital in downtown Utica. Meetings with the property owners are slated to begin later this year. The proposed hospital was initially expected to be roughly 830,000 square feet and estimated to cost $573 million. But a new projection reduces the proposed facility by 80,000 square feet and will cost approximately $480 million.

NOW WE KNOW — Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, writing in the journal Media Psychology, say Pokemon Go users were more likely to have positive attitudes, be friendly and physically active. "There was plenty of negative press about distracted people trespassing and running into trees or walking into the street," James Alex Bonus, a graduate student, said in a press release, accompanying the article. "But you also saw people really enjoying it, having a good time together outside." See it here.

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RECOMMENDED READING — The NYU School of Medicine Working Group Compassionate Use and Pre-Approval Access posts a fact sheet and recommendations on how legislators can help patients gain access to experimental drugs.

FINED — The state's Department of Financial Services fined Excellus Health Plans $1.05 million for a coding error that wrongly denied consumers contraceptive coverage. Due to "internal system and process errors" between 2008 and 2013, the insurer didn't promptly pay or deny claims within the time frame required by law, according to DFS. Read the full consent order here.

RECOVERY PERIOD — Buffalo Business First reports: "Erie County Medical Center Corp. still working to bring systems back after "highly sophisticated" computer virus detected."

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE — The American Cancer Society released a report showing that there are nearly 9,000 tobacco retailers in New York City, or one ever 1,312 feet. Read the report here.

OPINION — Kendra's Law expires in June. Here is what D.J. Jaffe thinks: "Unless the Legislature makes it permanent or renews it, these sick individuals will be free to leave treatment. Many will then return to the jails, prisons, shelters, streets and institutions." Read more here.

HONORARY DEGREE — New York City first lady Chirlane McCray will receive an honorary degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy this year.

MAKING ROUNDS — The William F. Ryan Community Health Network announced to new executive directors. Samuel Bartels, who has previously with Montefiore Health System, will lead the Ryan Network's flagship center on the Upper West Side, while Bob Fohngho, who has been at Columbia University Medical Center, Mount Sinai Health System and Memorial Sloan Kettering, will head up the Ryan Women & Children's Center in northern Manhattan.

ALSO MAKING ROUNDS — ENT and Allergy Associates announced Monday the opening of its new location in Melville, its eighth practice on Long Island.

PHARMA REPORT THERANOS — The Wall Street Journal reports


ACTUARIAL CONCERN — How do you predict a President who prides himself on being unpredictable? How do you price in the risk of a Tweet? These are the questions insurers are asking themselves as they try to price their plans for the 2018 individual market. The Wall Street Journal has more.

THE CUTEST STORY YOU WILL READ TODAY — From STAT: "In his podcast, Nate Butkus has talked radiation with a US government scientist, evolution with a Harvard researcher, and, most recently, genome-editing with MIT's Kevin Esvelt. But ask him his favorite moment from the 28 episodes so far, and it has to be when he belched during a taping. So it goes when the podcast host is 6 years old." Read the rest here.

WATCHING WISCONSIN — Wisconsin plans to enact several new Medicaid restrictions to allow certain low-income adults to receive benefits under the program, according to a summary the state released.

ON THE WATERFRONT The Washington Post has a piece about a clinic that floats down the Amazon offering treatment to poor indigenous people.

HOW TEXAS IS BEATING THE SUPREME COURT ON ABORTION — When Texas lost a major abortion case before the Supreme Court last year, the state's conservative lawmakers didn't back down. Republicans who control both chambers of the Legislature responded with about four dozen new anti-abortion bills this session, positioning the state to continue to be one of the most restrictive in the country, where women in large swaths of Texas are hundreds of miles from the nearest provider. Read more from POLITICO here.

STOCK REPORT — Axios reports: "So much for that upbeat Medicare payment proposal from last week. Stocks of hospital operators plunged Monday morning after HCA — a bellwether company and the country's largest for-profit hospital chain by revenue — previewed first-quarter results below analysts' expectations. HCA's stock tumbled 3% in early morning trading, and its competitors took a bigger beating: Tenet Healthcare dropped 8%, Community Health Systems fell 7.5% and Quorum Health was down 5.5%."

JUSTICES TURN AWAY ANOTHER ACA CASE — The Supreme Court declined to take up a lawsuit challenging an Obama administration policy allowing insurers to continue offering health plans that don't comply with the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case, West Virginia v. HHS, was expected. More here.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from New York-Presbyterian: "Reduce your allergies this spring by doing these 4 things before you step outside."


CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? — A common form of inner ear damage is often missed by hearing tests, according to a University at Buffalo-led study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience. That's because audiograms are typically conducted in a quiet room. The problem is that some people have inner ear damage that causes them to be unable to distinguish one voice in a crowded room.

YOU CAN QUIT ANY TIME YOU WANT, RIGHT? — Women are especially susceptible to becoming addicted to their smartphones, according to a study from Binghamton University. "Our smartphones have turned into a tool that provides short, quick, immediate satisfaction, which is very triggering," Isaac Vaghefi, assistant professor of management information systems, said in a press release accompanying the article. Read more here.

DRAGON BLOOD — The New York Times reports: "Biochemists may have discovered a type of antibiotic that sounds like something out of a fairy tale: It is based on dragon blood." Dare you not to keep reading here.

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