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— NYC Health + Hospitals reported improvements in specialty referrals, wait times and the number of patients who enter the emergency department and receive care, according to statistics released this week in the Mayor’s Management Report.
— A new analysis conducted by the Department of Financial Services found a 2014 law to protect New Yorkers from surprise out-of-networking billing worked.
— The Drug Utilization Review Board meets today in Albany to provide updates on the Medicaid drug cap and the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, among other things.
NYC HEALTH AND HOSPITALS UPDATES — NYC Health + Hospitals reported a 162 percent increase in specialty referrals, up to 75,999 eConsults in the 2019 fiscal year from 28,956 in the 2018 fiscal year, according to statistics released this week in the Mayor’s Management Report. The fiscal year ran from July 2018 to June 2019.
— More than 100 specialty clinics use the eConsult system, which enables primary care physicians and other doctors to connect patients to specialists. The eConsult system is scheduled to be accessible at all Health + Hospitals specialty clinics by 2021, though the MMR did not specify how many facilities that encompasses. The de Blasio administration did not set targets in its report for this endeavor, but noted the referrals are trending upward, according to the MMR.
— Health + Hospitals reduced its average wait time for the third-next available appointment to 12 calendar days, down from 18.6 days in the 2017 fiscal year, according to the report. The health system attributes the decline to staffing and workflow improvements, the report stated. For pediatrics, however, the wait time increased to six calendar days in the 2019 fiscal year, up from 4.7 days in the 2018 fiscal year, according to the report.
— The city’s public hospital system has also seen a decrease in the percentage of patients who visited the emergency department without receiving care between the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years. In fiscal year 2019, 7.2 percent of patients did not receive care, down from 7.7 percent in fiscal year 2018. However, the report did not include the total number of patients who visited the emergency room in fiscal years 2018 and 2019, and the statistics were higher than the 4 percent target, according to the report.
REPORT: OUT-OF-NETWORK BILL SAVES CONSUMERS — POLITICO’s Shannon Young: New Yorkers have saved more than $400 million under the state’s out-of-network law, which takes consumers out of disputes over out-of-network emergency and surprise bills, according to a new state government report. A Department of Financial Services analysis released this week also found that the 2014 law reduced out-of-network billing by 34 percent and lowered in-network emergency physician payments by 9 percent between its March 2015 implementation and the end of 2018. Nearly 2,600 decisions, meanwhile, were rendered under the law’s Independent Dispute Resolution process for out-of-network emergency physician services in a hospital and surprise bills in hospitals and other outpatient settings during the same period — growing from 149 in 2015 to 1,148 in 2018, the report found.
ICYMI — An analysis by state health and budget officials released earlier this month projected that New York’s Medicaid drug spending could exceed the state’s drug cap by more than $65 million in the 2019-20 state fiscal year.
AMANDA IN ROCKLAND — Amanda will be home in Bergen County for the Jewish High Holidays on Sept. 30 and wants to grab a cup of coffee with you if you live or work in Rockland County. Email her to set up a time.
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NOW WE KNOW — Using an ethanol-based hand sanitizer is unlikely to kill cold and flu bugs because your fingers are still wet with mucus, CNN reports.
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TODAY’S TIP — Children under age 5 should avoid drinking plant-based milk, as most options lack key nutrition for early development, guidelines suggest.
STUDY THIS — “Identifying and addressing patients’ social determinants will only be successful if these clinical practices occur with broad structural, community, and societal changes to the determinants that currently perpetuate poor health,” according to a viewpoint published by JAMA.
MENTAL HEALTH CARE — The New York Post reports: “The mayor’s annual performance review of city agencies reveals that Chirlane McCray’s $1 billion signature initiative fell far short of its own targets to help people with mental health problems. The just-released Mayor’s Management Report found that Thrive’s ‘mental health first aid’ program was supposed to train 72,000 people last year, but only got to 50,564. The free, eight-hour seminars teach attendees how to identify and help people with mental illness.”
SPECIAL DELIVERY — AARP NY will deliver more than 73,000 petition signatures on Thursday morning to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer’s Manhattan office urging Congress to fight increasing prescription drug costs.
MAKING ROUNDS — Dr. Neal LeLeiko joined NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital as an attending physician and director of the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Liver Diseases.
NEW DRUG — Reuters reports: “Roche has won the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s breakthrough therapy tag for its drug Gazyva in lupus nephritis, the Swiss drugmaker said on Wednesday, boosting its efforts to recycle the 2013-approved lymphoma medicine for new indications.”
HOMELESSNESS — The Trump administration and the liberal wing of California’s Democratic party are in agreement on one thing: homelessness in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco has gotten out of control. An agreement on how to solve a problem that’s plagued some of the country’s wealthiest cities for decades seems out of reach, however. “Donald Trump is a slumlord who has spent his presidency pushing people into homelessness by taking away health care, food assistance and affordable housing funds,” Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco, told The New York Times. “He has no credibility on housing and homelessness.”
… Trump’s fundraising trip to the Bay Area this week has renewed the president’s focus on California’s homelessness problem, according to The Washington Post. The solutions being floated by his administration are unlikely to earn any plaudits on the West Coast, however. “Administration officials have considered razing tent camps for the homeless, creating temporary facilities and refurbishing government facilities, according to two senior government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly,” write Philip Rucker and Jeff Stein for The Washington Post.
ASYLUM SUITS — More than 125 migrant mothers and children are suing the Trump administration over its asylum policies, arguing that the restrictive approach violates the rights of asylum seekers, according to Reuters. The suit, filed in federal court in Washington D.C., was largely brought by families from Central American countries that have been at the heart of the U.S. immigration debate: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
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