Tag pharmacy

Fortune: The Justice Department Approved the CVS-Aetna Merger, But It’s Still Not a Done Deal. Here’s Why

Bloomberg News, October 19

New York state officials are considering blocking parts of the $68 billion mergerof drugstore store chain CVS Health Corp. and Aetna Inc., jeopardizing billions of dollars in insurance premiums for Aetna.

CVS (CVS, +0.38%) and Aetna won approval from the U.S. Justice Department on Oct. 10, contingent on Aetna (AET, +0.00%) divesting its Medicare Part D business, which covers prescription drugs for seniors. But the deal still needs to pass through state regulatory bodies.

At a public hearing in Manhattan on Thursday, Maria Vullo, superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services, said her agency might block CVS’s merger with Aetna’s New York unit. She called U.S. approval of the overall deal “myopic” and repeatedly asked CVS and Aetna representatives for written evidence that they would deliver on promises to lower prices.

Several groups, including the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York and the Medical Society of the State of New York, urged the state to block the deal. They said the merger would limit competition and drive up the cost of prescription drugs. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, chairman of the Health Committee, said the deal introduces “dangerous trends” in consumer access.

Elizabeth Ferguson, deputy general counsel for CVS, said there wasn’t a plan to lower prices.

CVS and Aetna announced the deal in December 2017 but continue to face regulatory hurdles. Connecticut approved the deal Oct. 17, and the New York will reach a decision after Oct. 25.

Shares of CVS and Aetna were little changed in New York Thursday.

Public Hearing – Opioid Overdose Reversal Drugs

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

SUBJECT:  Opioid overdose reversal drugs: assessing and improving access to and availability of drugs to prevent opioid overdose deaths.

PURPOSE:  The purpose of this hearing is to examine access to and availability of opioid overdose reversal drugs, such as naloxone, and to identify, if necessary, means by which to expand access and availability statewide.

New York City
Thursday, May 17
11:00 A.M.
Assembly Hearing Room
19th Floor
250 Broadway

Opioid antagonists, such as naloxone, are potentially life-saving prescription medications used to reverse overdoses caused by heroin and opioids. New York State has made progress expanding access to naloxone and similar drugs. In 2006, New York State passed a law authorizing non-medical personnel to administer naloxone to individuals who seek it. A 2014 law expanded this to allow the prescribing, dispensing, and distribution of opioid antagonists by a non-patient specific order. In addition, many first responders now receive training to administer naloxone.

Times-Union: N.Y. lawmakers question health officials on drug prices, executive power, spending

By Claire Hughes, 2/16/17

Drug price controls, the adequacy of Medicaid payments and expanding the power of the Health Department were among the topics discussed at a legislative hearing Thursday on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget for health and Medicaid.

An underlying theme was uncertainty about what action President Donald Trump and a Republican-led Congress might take on the Affordable Care Act, which could affect health insurance subsidies for New Yorkers, and funding for women’s reproductive health clinics, including Planned Parenthood.

 “Much is happening in Washington,” state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker told lawmakers. “If the ACA were repealed, that would be a major concern, with millions of people potentially losing health care.”

Buffalo News – Cuomo proposes prescription drug price controls

By Tom Precious, 1/11/17

ALBANY – The state will establish a new cost-control system to stop some “unconscionable” drug companies from gouging consumers with high prescription drug prices, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday.

In his sixth — and final — State of the State address, Cuomo said he will propose in his upcoming budget the creation of a state review board to establish a “fair price” that New York will pay for individual prescription drugs in its Medicaid program.

That price would then also apply to sales in the private marketplace.

Press Release – Assembly Health Committee Update

Assembly Health Committee Update:
New Legislation Advanced to Improve Access to Medical Marijuana

The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 10 bills at its meeting on April 5. The Health Committee had not met since its March 1 meeting because of work on the state budget.

The Committee reported bills to expand public access to epinephrine auto-injectors (“epi-pens”); establish age-appropriate sex education grant programs; and require apartment building owners to develop and distribute smoking policies.

The Committee also reported three bills to improve the 2014 Compassionate Care Act medical marijuana law and expand patient access. Changes required by the Executive as conditions of signing the bill, and Health Department regulations, drastically limited the scope of the program. The three bills reported by the Committee would:

  • Allow physician assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe medical marijuana (today they are already fully authorized to write prescriptions for even the strongest and most dangerous controlled substances).
  • Expand the list of eligible conditions. The conditions added in this bill were initially passed by the Assembly but deleted from the final law at the Executive’s insistence.
  • Create an advisory committee to assist the Commissioner in making regulations, advise the Commissioner on clinical matters, and review appeals of denials of patient or caregiver applications; require that medical marijuana regulations conform to the legislative intent and have a valid clinical or public safety basis.

Assembly Health Committee Update, 1/21/16

Assembly Health Committee Update

The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 22 bills at its first meeting of the 2016 session on January 21.

The Committee reported the bill to establish safe staffing requirements in hospitals and nursing homes (A8580, Gunther). The evidence is clear that having enough nurses on staff has a direct impact on the quality of patient care. Research published by the American Medical Association estimates five additional deaths per 1,000 patients in hospitals with an 8-to-1 patient-to-nurse ratio compared to those with just a 4-to-1 ratio. More nurses per patient means fewer deaths and improves patient outcomes. It is well documented that hospitals with better staff ratios have lower rates of problems such as pneu­monia, shock, and cardiac arrest.

The ratios in the bill are based on academic and evidence-based studies. The Health Department could also set more demanding and specific ratios. California was the first state to mandate nurse staffing ratios and it has seen significant improvements in outcomes for both patients and staff.

For more information on a particular bill, please contact the sponsor listed after the description. For the text of a bill, supporting memorandum, and information on its status, go to: http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menuf.cgi

Genetic Disease Screening and Counseling – Authorizes grants for familial dysautonomia, Canavan’s and Tay-Sachs disease screening and counseling. (A126, Dinowitz)

Adult Home Residents Right to Sue – Lets adult home residents go to court for a court-appointed receiver to operate the adult home when the operator has endangered the health, safety, or welfare of the residents. (A154A, Weinstein) 

Times-Union: Cuomo urged to sign bill giving doctors final say in Medicaid Rx disputes

By Claire Hughes, August 4

Supporters of a bill that would ensure doctors have the final say in prescription disputes with Medicaid managed care plans are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the measure into law.

The measure, one of about 700 bills passed by the state lawmakers this year and under review by counsel, has not reached the governor’s desk, according to Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi.

Given the administration’s past stance on language in the bill, however, supporters are concerned over the chance of a veto.

“The Health Department opposed this language when it was raised during budget discussions,” said Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, a bill sponsor.

May Health Committee Update

Assembly Health Committee Update:
Protecting Nursing Home Residents From Abuse of Psychotropic Drugs

The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 39 bills at its meetings in May.  The Committee advanced legislation strengthening the “prescriber prevails” rule in Medicaid Managed Care; authorizing community paramedicine; and protecting nursing home residents from overuse of psychotropic drugs.

New York law gives patients in nursing homes the right to be fully informed of their proposed treatment, including the right to refuse treatment and be free from chemical restraint unless consistent with certain requirements.  However, psychotropic drugs are being used not just to treat illness but as a form of behavioral control.  The Assembly Health Committee held a hearing in February in which patients’ families, advocates, and adult care experts testified to the frequency of overuse.  A.7351 (Gottfried) requires that before psychotropic drugs are ordered in a nursing home or adult care facility, the patient or their surrogate must be informed of the potential benefits and side effects; dosage and duration of the prescription; reasonable alternatives (such as therapeutic activities); and their right to refuse consent.  The bill also requires written consent by the patient or surrogate.

For more information on a particular bill, please contact the sponsor listed after the description.  For the text of a bill, supporting memorandum, and information on its status, go to: http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menuf.cgi .

Tuesday, May 5

Early Intervention Covered Lives Assessment – Provides funding for Early Intervention services through the “covered lives assessment” paid by health insurance companies.  (A273, Paulin)

Credentialing for Group Practices – Requires insurers to expedite review of applications of health care professionals who are joining a group practice and grant provisional credentials to these professionals (A501, Cusick)

Healthy Teens Act – Establishes a Department of Health grant program for providers of age-appropriate sex education.  (A1616, Gottfried)

March Health Committee Update

Assembly Health Committee Update:
Reproductive Health Act Goes to the Assembly floor
Bill Would Make “Roe” State Law

The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 23 bills at its meetings on Tuesday, March 3 and Tuesday, March 24, including the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), sponsored by Assembly Member Deborah Glick.   The RHA aligns state public health law with existing federal law.

In practice, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision has guaranteed abortion rights in New York since 1973.  However, while New York’s own state law is similar to the protections of Roe, there are some protections in Roe that would be lost if it were overturned.    The RHA codifies in state law the rights that Roe has provided since 1973.  “The right to reproductive freedom is a fundamental right.  New York State must strengthen reproductive health rights and respect women’s decisions,” said Assembly Health Committee chair Richard N. Gottfried, a co-sponsor of the bill.  The bill is expected to be passed by the Assembly on Wednesday, March 25.

Health Committee Update – 2/27

Assembly Health Committee Update
New York Health Act reported from committee

 The Assembly Committee on Health favorably reported 22 bills at its meetings on Tuesday, February 10, and Thursday, February 26, 2015, including legislation giving adoptees access to their birth certificates and medical records, restoring “prescriber prevails” in Medicaid managed care, and creating the New York Health universal health coverage plan.