Weekly Dose of Health News

In this summary, you’ll find information on a new law that tracks prescriptions for controlled substances, the impact of Medicaid cutting or changing its dental services, a new initiative to protect the Medicare Part D program and much more!

Please let us know us what you think and if there is a particular topic you would like to see covered.

We hope you enjoy your “Weekly Dose of Health News.”

Legislative Policy

Governor Cuomo signed  drug monitoring legislation, known as I-STOP, into law this week. This new law is aimed at reducing the prescription drug abuse problem in New York.  The law will require doctors to consult a statewide registry before issuing a prescription for a controlled substance.  The registry will include information about dispensed controlled substances reported by pharmacies on a “real time” basis. Other provisions of the bill include a requirement that all prescriptions in New York be electronic by 2015, changes to controlled substance schedules, prescriber and health care professional education about controlled substances and a drug disposal program.

On a related note, Governor Cuomo announced that the state will place drop boxes for unused prescription drugs at nine New York State Police Troop Headquarters around the state.  This program will give New Yorkers a secure place to anonymously dispose of unused prescription medications, medicated ointments, over-the-counter medications, and controlled substances.


In an effort to control Medicaid costs, many governors have begun cutting the dental benefit from state Medicaid programs.  The New York Times writes about the reductions and the concerns from health policy advocates (Goodnough, 8/29).

In New York, Medicaid dental services were moved into Medicaid Managed Care starting July 1st.  The Times Union writes about the change and the potential impact on dental care for the state’s most vulnerable populations (Crowley, 8/28).

Affordable Care Act

Late last week, the Department of Health and Human Services , announced that it would allow for a one-year delay in the adoption of a new coding system that classify diseases and health problems. The delay, first proposed in April, will move the deadline to Oct. 1, 2014. The final rule will also establish a unique health plan identifier (HPID) to streamline the billing process between providers and health plans. The HPID is required by the Affordable Care Act to simplify the billing process in the health care system.

The Affordable Care Act may be encouraging mergers with the healthcare industry. The Washington Post examines several recent mergers between health insurers and other consolidations between health care providers (Ho, 8/26).

Although supporters of the Affordable Care Act contend that the law will benefit all Americans, the Washington Post  writes that women may be the real winners under the expansion of care provisions (Andrews, 8/27).

NY Medicare Rx Access Network

New York Health Works is launching the Medicare Rx Access Network of New York, a coalition of health care related groups including patient advocacy organizations, professional associations, social service organizations, and senior related organizations that are committed to educating New Yorkers about Medicare Part D and fighting to protect this critical program. Find more information on this important initiative here.

Recently, the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics released a report, Cost Savings in Medicare Part D: The Prescription Drug Lifecycle, which examines the role the prescription drug life cycle plays in public policy. IMS found that a group of brand-named (patented) medicines representing 28% of the all Part D 2006 spending lost patent protection during this period. At the same time, generic versions of those medicines became available to patients. This generic competition with brand name drugs helped save Medicare $8.1 billion.


The Wall Street Journal writes about the trend of hospital systems taking over private physician practices and the unintended consequence of these unions. As physicians become part of hospital systems, medical services are billed at to insurers at hospital rates which are higher than what insurers pay independent doctors. The result is that the same service can cost more once a practice signs on with a hospital (Mathews, 8/26).

The American Academy of Pediatrics  has changed its stance on male circumcision. Citing new evidence that the procedure may reduce the transmission of HIV, the Academy indicated that the benefits outweigh the risks of the procedure. While the new policy statement stops short of endorsing circumcision for all male infants it is a departure from the Academy’s previous neutral position on the issue.

With the start of the new school year around the corner, Assemblyman Goldfeder shares his perspective on the importance of having children immunized this week on the New York Health Works blog.

Gerry Hoffman, Vice President of the Onondaga County Medical Society, has authored an opinion piece in MD News.  Mr. Hoffman writes about the clinical research trials taking place in the Syracuse area and around New York State. From the perspective of a cancer survivor, Mr. Hoffman discusses how this research will provide the key to unlocking cures to disease and will reinvigorate the New York’s economy as well.

A new study from Health Affairs found that amenable mortality—deaths that could have been avoided with timely and appropriate health care—accounts for 21 percent of deaths among men and 30 percent of deaths among women under the age of 75 in several high-income countries. The study compared mortality rates in the Unites States, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany between 1999 and 2007 and found that the United States has higher amendable mortality rates than the other three countries.

-Jaime Venditti, 8/31/12