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POLITICO New York Health Care: Albany Med nurses vote to unionize -- Montefiore movies -- Puerto Rican problems

By Dan Goldberg | 04/16/2018 09:59 AM EDT

LONG-TERM IMPACT — We took a look at the long-term public health impact of living in NYCHA housing. ... Why it matters: NYCHA has become a political football. Problems such as lead paint and broken boilers have dominated the headlines about NYCHA in recent months, as the country's largest public housing authority has taken center stage in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's re-election campaign, and in his feud with Mayor Bill de Blasio. The stressors facing NYCHA residents in its worst developments, though, go well beyond broken boilers. Fetid air, vermin, poorly lit hallways and stairwells, crime, sustained poverty and its concomitant health risks have the psychological effect of the erosion caused by a steady leak on a piece of concrete. Not much is noticeable at first. Over time, wear and tear begin to show on the surface, a sign of deeper problems below. Eventually, the cement erodes.

BUDGET RESPONSE — The City Council is proposing to spend $9.6 million to pay for three new neighborhood health action centers, a favorite project of health commissioner Mary Bassett. ... Why it matters: Should the Council's proposal become part of the final budget, which is expected to be adopted in June, it would double the number of neighborhood health action centers in the city.

VETERANS DAY — Upstate New York VA medical centers have roughly $550 million in capital project needs, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday as he urged the VA to appropriate the necessary funds. ... Why it matters: The omnibus spending deal reached in late March allocated $4 billion to the Department of Veterans Affairs for repairs and upgrades at medical centers across the country. Another $4 billion also is included in the next fiscal year, Schumer said. The Secretary of the VA has resigned and President Trump's nominee is not certain to be confirmed.

GARDEN STATE — On Thursday, New Jersey's state Legislature passed two bills to shore up the state's Obamacare markets. One, NJ A 3380 (18R), would set a state version of the individual mandate, complete with penalties for going without. The second, NJ S 1878 (18R) , would create a reinsurance program to help insurers cover the sickest and most expensive patients. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy hasn't said whether he would sign the bills but has pledged to defend health coverage gains made under the Affordable Care Act. ... Why it matters: It's not really clear how this will impact the individual market but blue states (think New York) might consider similar moves if for no other reason than to show their anti-Trump bona fides.

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

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AHCJ — Dan spent the last four days in Arizona at the Association of Health Care Journalists annual conference. Thanks to the sponsors who made the fellowship possible. Here is a quick take: "I learned a lot and have a boatload of new resources that I hope will inform my reporting and bring to you richer stories. But one nugget I can't shake and wanted to share is that every city, every state, both parties and every employee wellness program targets obesity. We know it's the trigger for so much else and we are putting incalculable resources into it, including thousands of new apps and digital tools. And it's a simple problem for the average person to understand. Yet the obesity rate keeps going up. So, when are we going to acknowledge we need some new strategies?"

ENDORSEMENT — The League of Women Voters of New York State is backing an effort to give the terminally ill the option to end their lives, which supporters refer to as "aid in dying." More from Nick here.

UNION VOTE Fifteen years after their last attempt and nearly two decades after a vote failed by a single ballot, nurses at Albany Medical Center have voted to unionize. More from Nick here.

NOW WE KNOW — The Washington Post reports: "Hand dryers may leave your hands significantly more dirty than before, according to a new study."

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 or

NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ — "The men who pay Elena Ramirez for her body don't know she is dying. With nothing left to lose and a family that needs her to live, she decides to leave Santo Domingo and follow a doctor on a near-impossible journey to New York." That's the tagline for a film based on the true story of a patient at Montefiore Medical Center. The film, which Montefiore financed, will be shown during the Tribeca Film Festival later this month. More from Dan here.

DINAPOLI'S CHARITY — Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is among the 3.3 million New Yorkers who will be affected by new federal limits on the deductibility of state and local taxes, his tax records show. DiNapoli, a Democrat from the Nassau County, reported $167,943 in income for 2017, and paid $27,186 in federal taxes and $9,962 in state income taxes. DiNapoli donated $9,879 — mostly in small amounts — to charity. The biggest recipients were Hospice, $1,650, and St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church, which got $1,405.

WHAT THE DOH IS STUDYING — Dr. Howard Zucker, New York State commissioner of health, and Greg Olsen, acting director of the New York State Office for the Aging, sent out a survey asking people to comment on barriers and gaps for New York's long-term care system.

MAKING ROUNDS — Cara Berkowitz is joining EmblemHealth as vice president of government affairs and policy.

OPINION — A trio of health policy professors and academics argue in favor of the City Council's resolution proposing to rid schools of processed meats. Read it here.


DON'T DO THAT — The Associated Press reports: "An online pharmacy that bills itself as Canada's largest was fined $34 million Friday for importing counterfeit cancer drugs and other unapproved pharmaceuticals into the United States, a sentence that one advocacy group called too light for such a heinous crime."

NIH DIRECTOR ACCEPTS ETHICS PANEL TOP RECOMMENDATION ON OPIOID PARTNERSHIP — National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said Friday that he will embrace his advisory committee's recommendation that the agency decline cash contributions from the drug industry as part of its work to address the opioid crisis to eliminate the risk of bias. Read the full recommendations here.


HOW PROFITEERS LURE WOMEN INTO UNNECESSARY SURGERIES — The New York Times has an excellent investigative piece on "a growing industry that makes money by coaxing women into having surgery — sometimes unnecessarily — so that they are more lucrative plaintiffs in lawsuits against medical device manufacturers."

#METOO — The Associated Press examines doctors who keep their medical licenses despite multiple allegations of sexual abuse.

K-FILED — "A political appointee at the Department of Health and Human Services shared an image in 2017 that said 'our forefathers would have hung' Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for treason, a CNN KFile review has found." More from CNN here.

AN AMERICAN STORY — Six months after Hurricane Maria, 14 Vieques residents must still board a plane three days a week for kidney dialysis on Puerto Rico's main island, Kaiser Health News reports.

HHS MULLS CUTS AS PART OF RESCISSION PACKAGE — A month after Congress gave the Department of Health and Human Services a $10 billion bump in its annual budget, the Trump administration is telling the agency to find places to pare back, POLITICO's Adam Cancryn reports. Senior HHS officials are coordinating with OMB Health Programs Associate Director Joe Grogan to draw up a menu of cuts as part of a rescission package that could slash as much as $60 billion overall from the omnibus spending bill Republicans only just passed, a source familiar with the discussions told POLITICO.

HEALTH CARE PRICES ARE RISING AT FASTEST LEVEL IN YEARS — POLITICO scooped some data from Altarum, which found that prices have risen 2.2 percent since March of last year, the fastest annual growth rate since January 2012. The big driver of price growth: Hospitals. Altarum found that hospital prices have been annually growing at nearly 4 percent, the highest level in eight years.

BAD BILLING — Nearly one-third of Medicare billing claims for telehealth were improperly submitted in a random sample described today in an HHS Office of Inspector General report.

SLEEP PROBLEMS — Black Americans don't sleep as well as white Americans. That's a problem, reports Vox.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from NYC Health + Hospitals. Today is National Health Care Decisions Day. Here are some thoughts on choosing a health care proxy.


NO BETTER THAN PLACEBO — Oral omega-3 is no better than a placebo in relieving signs and symptoms of dry eye disease, according to a study from Mount Sinai researchers published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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