By Josefa Velasquez | 05/19/2017 09:52 AM EDT

PHHPC ROUNDUP — Northwell Health and NYU Hospitals received preliminary approval Thursday to open heart transplant centers, the first time in nearly two decades that the state has considered expanding the number of programs. The state's Public Health and Health Planning Council's committee on establishment and project review voted to send the two applications to the full council despite objections from some of the five current heart transplant centers, and an admission from the Cuomo administration that this was a tough call. Read more here.

— The PHHPC committee also unanimously approved Erie County Medical Center's plan to construct a new emergency department. Erie County Medical Center, a 602-bed hospital in Buffalo, is seeking to construct a new 54,000-square-foot emergency department adjacent to the existing emergency department, which is cramped and dated. According to a summary of the project submitted to PHHPC, the current 26,100-square-foot emergency department was designed for 45,000 annual visits. In 2015, the facility served 56,148 patients and currently has more than 68,000 emergency department visits annually. Read more here.

— Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center received preliminary approval Thursday to add 16 inpatient beds to its new building on 74th Street and create a full hospital division about a half-mile away from its main hospital. The David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care was approved four years ago as an ambulatory facility, but Memorial officials now tell the state they need more room and asked for 16 inpatients beds for non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients who plan CHOP chemotherapy and patients who need interventional radiology.

NEW RULES — One order of more information, please. New York City on Monday will begin enforcing its new menu labeling rules , meaning chain food retailers with more than 15 locations will be required to post a slew of new nutritional information, including calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugar and protein. Many New Yorkers are used to seeing calorie counts at places such as Subway or Chipotle but this expands the establishments to chain grocery stores such as 7-Eleven and Costco, which will be required to post information about their prepared meals such as ready-to-eat sandwiches or pizza. Read more here.

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NOW WE KNOW — Does wearing a hat cause hair loss? According to the Cleveland Clinic, it's possible. Read more here.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS — The State Senate is expected to take up legislation next week that would add post-traumatic stress disorder as a condition for which patients can be administered medical marijuana. During an interview on NY1 Thursday evening, Sen. Diane Savino — one of the architects of the state's medical marijuana program — told host Errol Louis that the chamber was slated to vote on the bill. Read more here.

WHY SCHNEIDERMAN WANTS TO HELP TRUMP'S CASE — State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and more than a dozen of his peers asked a federal judge Thursday to let them help the Trump administration defend a position that the Trump administration isn't really certain it wants to defend. The motion to intervene, if successful, could give liberal lawyers the opportunity to act as a check on the Trump administration's open hostility toward the Affordable Care Act. Read more here.

... Related: State insurance commissioners are urging the White House and Congress to fund Obamacare's cost-sharing subsidies ahead of a Monday legal deadline for how to proceed on the issue. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners sent letters Wednesday to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and Senate leaders warning that the Obamacare markets could collapse if the government doesn't keep making the payments and provide stable funding to help cover the health law's low-income customers.

REGULATING DIET PILLS — Dietary supplement manufacturers would need to include safety information on their products' labels, should a bill recently introduced in the Legislature become law. Read more here.

MAKING ROUNDS — The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center announced Thursday that Dr. James Downing has been named the 2017 recipient of The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Prize.

LUSH VISITS — "Albany Medical Center Hospital has offered a boutique-type medical service to executives for two decades, but unveiled a recent facelift this week that it hopes will attract new customers." Read more from the Times Union here.

TRANSFERRING A PATIENT — "After a woman jumped two stories off its parking garage last month, Auburn Community Hospital called 911 and had an ambulance take the injured woman to a Syracuse hospital 30 miles away instead of caring for her in its own emergency room, an inspection report shows." Read more here.

GOING PUBLIC — Athenex, a Buffalo-based biotech company, is hoping to raise $100 million in its initial public offering to pay for work to develop cancer-fighting drugs. Read more here.

PHARMA REPORT — HIDDEN INFLUENCE — The Wall Street Journal reports

CRACKING DOWN — "India's drug pricing regulator has demanded explanations from 65 domestic and global drugmakers for selling new forms of essential diabetes and antibiotic drugs without its approval." Read more from Reuters here.


URBAN INSTITUTE PANS AHCA'S HIGH-RISK POOL FUNDING — States would need nearly three times the funding allocated in the House Obamacare repeal bill to set up successful high-risk pools, according to new estimates from the Urban Institute. Read the full study here.

HHS DELAYS BUNDLED PAYMENT PROGRAMS — The agency is again postponing expansion of bundled payments for knee and hip replacements and cardiac care, moving the programs' effective dates back to Jan. 1. HHS initially delayed the programs in March, citing the Trump administration's 60-day regulatory freeze. Holding off for even longer could give HHS Secretary Tom Price — who is critical of mandatory demonstration projects — time to put his own stamp on the policies.

GROUNDHOG DAY — Bloomberg reports that two weeks after the House voted to replace the ACA, the bill still hasn't been sent to the Senate. "House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn't yet sent the bill to the Senate because there's a chance that parts of it may need to be redone, depending on how the Congressional Budget Office estimates its effects. House leaders want to make sure the bill conforms with Senate rules for reconciliation, a mechanism that allows Senate Republicans to pass the bill with a simple majority... " Read more here.

... One note of caution: The odds of the CBO finding this bill, which cuts Medicaid by more than $800 billion, doesn't save at least $2 billion seem really long.

NEW CAMPAIGN STRATEGY — A Portland, Oregon doctor became suspicious after a character on General Hospital had been diagnosed with an extremely rare bone marrow cancer, Polycythemia vera, that affects two in 100,000 people. Turns out the illness got a shout out in America's oldest soap opera because a drug company, Incyte, asked it to. Read more from Vox here.

ROCKY ROAD — The LA Times reports: "Health insurers across the country are making plans to dramatically raise Obamacare premiums or exit marketplaces amid growing exasperation with the Trump administration's erratic management, inconsistent guidance and seeming lack of understanding of basic health care issues..."

... Insurance industry officials and state regulators have met repeatedly in recent months with senior Trump administration officials in an effort to explain that administration's actions are jeopardizing health coverage for millions of Americans. But in many cases, the meetings only left insurers and regulators more confused about the administration's plans, according to attendees."

ISLAND GETAWAY — Montego Bay, Jamaica is better known for marijuana than medical expertise, but private businesspeople are hoping to change that. "Jamaica, like other developing nations before it, is trying to boost its economy by wooing 'medical tourists' to fly in for an inexpensive knee replacement or nose job. ... The twist: They don't just want to attract American patients who need surgery. They also want to persuade American doctors to fly in to do those sinus repairs and arthroscopies — while enjoying a Caribbean vacation." Read more from STAT here.

EBOLA — The number of suspected cases of Ebola has risen from nine to 18 in less than a week in an isolated part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization announced. Read more here.

ATHENA SURGE — Shares of Athenahealth rose more than 18 percent after hedge-fund manager Paul Singer disclosed the had a 9.2 percent stake in the company. Read more here.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the CDC: Now that the weather is warming up, pregnant women should wear insect repellent to prevent Zika.


PRINTED OVARIES — According to the CDC, ovaries may be the next 3D printed organs and could help as many as 6.1 million women in the U.S. who struggle with infertility. Read more here.

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