By Dan Goldberg | 05/18/2017 10:00 AM EDT
CURBING E-CIGS — The Assembly passed legislation on Wednesday that would add electronic cigarettes to the state's Clean Indoor Air Act, bringing back a debate that fell out of this year's budget negotiations. It's the third straight year the chamber has passed the measure, and the debate mirrored those from past sessions. Opponents — most of whom were Republicans — argued that the bill would limit a method people use to try to quit smoking tobacco in exchange for limiting exposure to a vapor that might not be harmful. Read more here.
FINANCES — EmblemHealth, one of the state's largest health insurance companies, reported a $3 million underwriting loss through the first three months of the year, a significant improvement over the $29 million underwriting loss the company reported during the same time period in 2016. EmblemHealth is made up of Group Health Incorporated (GHI), which has roughly 1.5 million members, and Health Insurance Plan Greater New York (HIP), which has about 624,000 members. HIP lost $24 million through the first three months of the year, up from a $4 million underwriting loss during the same period in 2016. Much of that appears owed to an increase in reserves. One key number to watch is administrative expenses, which fell to $112 million from $154 million in 2016. GHI reported a $21 million underwriting gain during the first three months after a $24 million loss the previous year. Administrative expenses fell to $18 million from $47 million.
NOW WE KNOW — Do you have a "type?" A certain sort of man or woman to which you are physically drawn? Well, science says that's a real thing. Researchers from the University of California, writing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, say people's past partners have similar physical qualities, even if the relationship was short and, shall we say, casual. "Type" also includes people with similar levels of education, intelligence and religiosity. The study is here.
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LAWMAKERS TOOK COLLINS' STOCK TIPS — Buffalo News' Jerry Zremski: "You might think members of Congress would take it as a warning if they saw a fellow lawmaker — Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence — lambasted by good-government types after he passed on to a colleague a hot stock tip about an obscure Australian biotech firm. But no. Instead, four other Republican lawmakers bought stock in the same company amid the controversy early this year surrounding Collins' investment. Those lawmakers — Reps. Mike Conaway and John Culberson of Texas, Doug Lamborn of Colorado and Billy Long of Missouri — bought shares in Innate Immunotherapeutics. That's the biotech firm that Collins — the firm's largest shareholder — last year touted to then-Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican. Price's discount purchase of Innate stock became a controversial issue in the confirmation process that led to him becoming President Trump's health and human services secretary. In addition, the Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating Collins' investment in Innate and has staffers in Buffalo this week interviewing those whom Collins persuaded to invest in the company. Politico reported earlier this week that the four GOP lawmakers invested in Innate while controversy was swirling around the company in January." Read more here.
OPIOID OVERDOSE — The Buffalo News reports: "Eight people have died from suspected drug overdoses in Erie County since Saturday, and another three suspected fatal overdoses occurred in surrounding counties."
MAKING ROUNDS — Dr. S. Jacob Scheinerman, chair of cardiothoracic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, has been appointed vice president of cardiothoracic surgery for Northwell Health's northwest and southwest regions. He will now be responsible for aligning the cardiovascular and thoracic services of Lenox Hill and Staten Island University hospitals.
ALSO MAKING ROUNDS — Timothy Foley has been hired as the director of the SEIU Connecticut State Council. Yesterday was his last day as the political director at the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare.
PHARMA REPORT — STATE FIGHT — The Wall Street Journal reports
WHAT WE'RE READING:
PRICE CLARIFIES — Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, following criticism over comments he made in West Virginia, now says medication-assisted treatment is an important tool in combating the opioid epidemic. "At HHS, we have outlined a five-point strategy for the opioid epidemic: promoting the targeted use of overdose-reversing drugs; boosting access to treatment and recovery services, including medication-assisted treatment; improving our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance; performing cutting-edge research about pain and addiction; and advancing the practice of pain management." Read his op-ed here.
CURDLING — NPR wins for this headline but it's also an interesting story about our waxing and waning appetites for milk.
DON'T DO THAT — From USA Today: "When a west Michigan woman showed up for liposuction surgery last month, red flags apparently didn't go up about the unconventional setting — an unfinished pole barn. Rather, the woman underwent the fat removal surgery for 10 hours inside the barn while her mother and sister sat alongside her and watched, state records show. The family saw the surgeon remove fat from under the patient's skin, pour it down a sink drain and store some of it in plastic bags. It wasn't until the patient appeared to go in and out of consciousness, records show, that an ambulance was called. An investigation followed."
TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the state's Department of Health: "If it's been more than six months, make a plan to practice your emergency evacuation fire plan with the whole family."
TEETH TIME — Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and evolutionary biologists at Griffith University in Australia found biomarkers in the teeth of wild orangutans that explain how nursing patterns relate to food fluctuations. This is important, they say, for understanding breast-feeding evolution in humans, according to a study published in Science Advances.
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