Nysha Recent News

Public Health and Policy

By: Mendy Hecht

July 9, 2018

Doctor, U.S. Senator releases health reform proposal

Washington, D.C. — Like many high-ranking current and past public servants, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana is an M.D.—and one who’s proposed healthcare reforms based directly on that personal experience.


In recent report entitled “Ideas to Make Health Care Affordable Again,” Sen. Cassidy proposes such specifics as: promoting comparison shopping by listing care prices; ending healthcare monopolies by boosting competition; allowing pharmacists to tell patients how to spend less for the same drug; reducing defensive medicine and frivolous lawsuits; and reducing long-term costs by focusing on prevention.


Utah files suit against OxyContin maker

Salt Lake City, UT — The State of Utah filed a lawsuit May 31 accusing Purdue Pharma, which makes the opioid OxyContin, of creating an epidemic of drug abuse in the state.  In its court filing, the state claims that Purdue’s actions amounts to fraud, negligence, nuisance and a violation of state consumer sales law. 


Purdue remains on defense vis-à-vis the opioid epidemic.  The company announced this past February that it has halved its salesforce, and will also no longer visit doctors’ offices to sell Oxycontin.  It’s also currently facing lawsuits from several U.S. states around the country.


NYS health insurers ask for 24-percent-avg. premium hike

New York, NY — According to the state Department of Financial Services, New York health plans selling insurance to individuals have recently asked state insurance regulators to raise their premiums by 24 percent on average for 2019, Bloomberg News reported.


Insurers said the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate caused them to about double their rate requests—without which, they said, they would have requested an average 12-percent hike. Without the requirement, more healthy young individuals are expected to skip buying insurance, leaving the pool dominated by older, sicker people.


Insurers selling plans to small businesses, defined as 100 employees or fewer, requested a 7.5 percent hike on average.


Fidelis Care, the most popular plan on the state marketplace, requested the largest increase, at 38.6 percent on average.  It attributed 25.9 percentage points of that to the repeal.


EmblemHealth, the Manhattan-based insurer behind HIP and GHI, asked for an average 31.5 percent premium increase, with 12 percentage points attributed to the repeal.


The lowest request among city insurers was NYC Health and Hospitals’ MetroPlus, which proposed an average increase of 13.5 percent on average.


In “first,” FDA forces mandatory recall of kratom

Baltimore, MD — The Food and Drug Administration recently ordered its first-ever mandatory recall of a food product, after it says it unsuccessfully tried to get the company do so voluntarily.

Kratom is a plant supplement sold to treat pain, help people stop using opioids, or as a stimulant. The FDA has been warning against its use in general and later issued a large voluntary recall notice after some samples were found to be contaminated with salmonella.


The mandatory recall affects kratom supplier Triangle Pharmanaturals.  Recalled Triangle kratom products include the Emerald Green, Ivory White and Ruby Red brand names of its Maeng Da Kratom product line.


Spotted lanternflies possibly spotted in state

Albany, NY — The New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently asked the public to keep an eye out for spotted lanternflies, an invasive species that may now have spread to New York. 


According to officials, a single spotted lanternfly was spotted in New York in fall of 2017.  The DEC has since upped its efforts to detect the bug, which feeds on 70 plant species including maples, apple trees, grapevine, and hops.


“This pest has the potential to severely impact our forests, as well as our state’s agricultural and tourism industries,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said.  “New Yorkers are our eyes on the ground and engaging the public’s participation to support our efforts is a crucial step.


England considering wet wipe wipeout

London, England — A new national policy under government consideration in England would have the popular “wet wipes” sanitary product wiped out over the next decades.


The wipes, used for everything from infant hygiene to facial cleansing and household surface disinfection, are also a major environmental hazard.  Some 93 percent of England’s “fatbergs,” or enormous sewer-system clogs that weigh tons, are composed of discarded wipes.