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POLITICO New York Health Care: Aid in dying debated during hearing -- Centene receives state approvals -- Brothers Thrive

By Dan Goldberg | 04/24/2018 09:59 AM EDT

AID IN DYING The Assembly Health Committee held the first of two public hearings Monday on a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients who wish to end their lives. It's an issue loaded with philosophical and moral implications, and it has split the medical community in New York. Proposed legislation would require two physicians to determine that a patient had fewer than six months to live before the prescription could be written. More from Nick here.

DOH, DFS APPROVE FIDELIS SALE — Centene Corporation on Monday announced that the New York Department of Health and the New York Department of Financial Services approved its acquisition of Fidelis Care for approximately $3.75 billion. The company still needs the approval of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The twin approvals come three weeks after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a budget deal allowing the state to capture roughly $2 billion from the sale of Fidelis, a nonprofit health insurer, to Centene, a publicly traded company. Thanks to a change in law, New York State can claw back approximately $500 million from Fidelis' reserves, which effectively comes out of the pocket of Centene. The state will also receive roughly $1.5 billion from the proceeds of the sale, which will come from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, which runs Fidelis. During the sometimes testy budget negotiations, state officials intimated that they may not have approved the deal if Centene and Fidelis refused to let the state have a share of the proceeds.

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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.

POLITICO's Ben White is bringing Morning Money to the Milken Institute Global Conference to provide coverage of the day's events and evening happenings. The newsletter will run April 29, 2018 — May 2, 2018. Sign up to keep up with your daily conference coverage.

DRUG HABITS — Insurance companies in New York are approving more requests for PCSK9 inhibitors, expensive cholesterol drugs that roiled insurers when they first came on the market a little more than two years ago. In New York, about 27 percent of claims were rejected in 2017, according to the Institute for Patient Access, down from from 40 percent during the drug's first 12 months on the market. More from Dan here.

NOW WE KNOW — Researchers from Yale wrote a paper in Chronic Stress examining how Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been called different things over the last century. Hey, Yale. George Carlin had that exact routine 30 years ago. Check it out.

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 dgoldberg@politico.com or nniedzwiadek@politico.com.

BROTHERS THRIVE — First lady Chirlane McCray on Monday unveiled her new initiative to improve mental health literacy in the black community. Brothers Thrive, part of Thrive NYC, McCray's $850 million signature initiative, is her latest effort to improve mental health services in New York City and comes on the heels of Sisters Thrive, which was announced in December. More from Dan here.

ART — The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Monday announced that it is expanding the New York City Mural Arts Project, an idea modeled on a similar program in Philadelphia that brings together behavioral health organizations, artists and mental health patients and their families. There will be three new murals about mental health in Morrisania, Mount Hope and Crown Heights. The idea of the project, a six-year, $500,000 per-year effort, is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness by having participants discuss their experiences.

MAKING ROUNDS — David Woodlock, CEO of the Institute for Community Living, a New York-based nonprofit that assists individuals and families affected by mental illness or substance abuse, has been named the recipient of the National Council for Behavioral Health's 2018 Visionary Leadership Award.

ALSO MAKING ROUNDS — SUNY Downstate Medical Center President Wayne Riley, was appointed to the board of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a New Jersey-based health care organization.

COMING SOON — The New York State Health Foundation is hosting a veterans health conference on May 10. The keynote will be delivered by Phillip Carter, senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. More here.

PHARMA REPORT:

NEW YORK STATE MAKES CLAIM ON SHKRELI ASSETS — The New York Daily News reports: "New York State has a message for the feds about cashing in on Martin Shkreli's high-priced hip-hop memorabilia: We were there first. The state filed court papers Friday saying they get first dibs at money from the 'substitute assets' in order to pay off the rest of what's owed on Shkreli's New York tax bill." Read more here.

FOLLOW THE MONEY — Drug companies post record lobbying totals. PhRMA spent nearly $10 million lobbying Washington in 2018's first quarter, the most since lobbyists began filing quarterly reports a decade ago. That also puts PhRMA on pace to blow past its $25 million in spending last year, POLITICO's David Pittman notes. At least five drug companies posted record high quarterly lobbying totals in the first three months of the year; Bayer Corp ($3.5 million), AbbVie: ($2.9 million), Sanofi ( $2 million), Novo Nordisk ($1.5 million) and Celgene: ($1.2 million). Amgen ($3.3 million) posted its third highest quarterly lobbying total. Pfizer spent more on lobbying, $4.7 million , than it has since 2010. Allergan ( $1.4 million) reported its second largest lobbying total. By comparison, the generic drug trade group, the Association for Accessible Medicines, spent $970,000 in the first three months on the year.

— Issues on pharma's plate: Drug companies fought hard against Congress's move to make them responsible for more of patients' drug costs in Medicare's Part D doughnut hole. The Trump administration is working on ways to address high prescription drug costs and Congress is crafting legislation to combat the opioid epidemic. The industry worked to block consideration of a bill that would make it easier to launch generic drugs, continued to push for changes in the 340B drug discount program and worked on trade issues. PhRMA also reported lobbying on the "confirmation of Alex Azar," a former Eli Lilly executive.

— What other notable health groups spent in the first quarter: American Medical Association: $6.6 million; American Hospital Association: $5 million (up 8.8 percent from the year prior); AHIP: $2.3 million; Blue Cross Blue Shield Association: $1.8 million (down 15 percent from the year prior); and AdvaMed: $1.1 million (roughly flat from the year prior).

ANTHRAX — The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will spend $25.2 million on an anthrax treatment from Elusys Therapeutics, officials announced Monday.

WHAT WE'RE READING:

NO ACTION ON JACKSON — Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson's nomination to be VA secretary may be in trouble, according to senators and aides in both parties. Read more from our D.C. colleagues here.

NEW LEASE ON LIFE — The New York Times tells the story of a young veteran whose genitals were blown off by a bomb and the extraordinary transplant he received: a penis, scrotum and portion of the abdominal wall, taken from a deceased organ donor. Read it here.

DON'T DO THAT — The Chicago Tribune reports: "A health care center in western Michigan is accused of agreeing to requests by patients for white-only caregivers. Six black certified nursing assistants filed a lawsuit April 11 against Providence Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, where they all work or formerly worked."

BIG DEAL — The Wall Street Journal reports: "Three different firms, including health insurer Humana Inc., are buying hospice operator Curo Health Services for about $1.4 billion as the consortium looks to expand its footprint in the home health-care business."

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from Northwell Health's Dr. Sam Packer, who provides five important things to know about Advanced Directives.

STUDY THIS:

DIRTY MOUTH — Drinking even one alcoholic beverage per day is associated with an overabundance of oral bacteria linked to gum disease, some cancers and heart disease, according to a study published in Microbiome from NYU School of Medicine researchers.

LINK — Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai say they found a link between inflammatory bowel disease and Parkinson's disease, which may impact the treatment and prevention of Parkinson's disease, according to a study in JAMA Neurology. More here.

SPEAKING OF IRRITATED BOWELS — Home-based behavioral treatments helped a majority of patients with severe and persistent symptoms of of IBS, according to researchers from the University at Buffalo, New York University and Northwestern University, who published a study in Gastroenterology.

GET UP, STAND UP — Regular physical activity may help older women increase their mobility, but women also need resistance training for muscle strength and endurance, according to a study in the journal Physical & Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics.

JAMA COMMENTARY: ALLOW PRICE NEGOTIATION FOR CANCER DRUGS — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should conduct a demonstration project allowing Medicare to bargain with drug companies on targeted cancer drugs, including formularies or other tools to limit the use of marginally effective drugs, two University of Pennsylvania researchers wrote in a JAMA Viewpoint.

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here.

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