September 26, 2023

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Maternal health may take front stage next session- POLITICO

Good morning and welcome to Monday’s New York Health Care newsletter, where we keep you posted on what’s coming up this week in health care news, and offer a look back at the important news from last week.

Mama Glow, a New York-based doula company that offers training, workforce development and other resources, is bringing on Alexis Confer as its senior adviser and chief strategist to advocate for the organization’s policy priorities around maternal health, POLITICO’s Amanda Eisenberg reports.

The hire comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to strike down Roe v. Wade — according to a draft decision first reported by POLITICO — and maternal health comes into greater focus. Confer, a de Blasio administration alumna who most recently served as executive director of March For Our Lives, said she is working closely with Mama Glow founder Latham Thomas to advocate at the national level for federal paid leave, as well as work with city and state officials to improve access to doula services — a priority Mayor Eric Adams has funded in his first city budget.

Mama Glowis one of the seven organizations working with the Adams administration to help train doulas and connect them to families in 33 neighborhoods designated by the de Blasio administration as needing additional government resources in the wake of the pandemic. Often, they are neighborhoods of low-income New Yorkers and people of color.

“We’re able to measure outcomes to ensure that the doula support is wanted and supported by the families,” Thomas said of the effort. Doulas are a small but growing segment of maternity care, providing personal services before, during and after birth. These include but are not limited to nutritional counseling or breastfeeding guidance.

The organization’s nonprofit arm, which will be helmed by Confer, also intends to work with Gov. Kathy Hochul and legislators in Albany to adjust the Medicaid reimbursement rates for doula access — an issue that has made the service difficult to render.

The city and state, during the tenures of former Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, tried to pilot doula programs aimed at reducing maternal mortality, which is three-to-four-times higher for Black women than their white counterparts. But they failed to get them off the ground due to low reimbursement rates. (New York’s reimbursement rate, Thomas pointed out, is one of the highest in the country.) Insurance typically does not cover doula services, making the service elusive to those who cannot pay for it out of pocket.

“This is something people are having a hard time wrapping their head around,” Thomas said of the payment problems. “[Legislators] have to try and figure out how to codify what doulas do through a lens of clinicians, and doulas are not clinicians. How do we write legislation around non-clinical-care providers?”

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NATION EYES NYC OPCS — POLITICO’s Shannon Young: Brian Weeks entered an old tenement building on E. 126th Street in Harlem to get high on crack cocaine and heroin. He also got help. Weeks was one of the first drug users in the nation to visit the East Harlem overdose prevention center — one of two facilities to open in New York City in late 2021 as part of an experiment in allowing open illegal drug use under the supervision of workers trained to prevent overdose deaths.

HOCHUL VOWS TO COMBAT GUN VIOLENCE — POLITICO’s Anna Gronewold: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul pledged to crack down on gun violence and the proliferation of online racism after a white man wearing military gear opened fire at a Buffalo supermarket, killing 10 people and wounding three others in an act being investigated as a hate crime.


— State health officials are urging New Yorkers living in one of the 40-plus counties that the CDC considers “high-risk” for Covid-19 transmission to wear masks in indoor public settings, regardless of their vaccination status.

— Attorney General Tish James issued guidance Friday to protect the digital privacy of individuals seeking abortion services. It recommends that people: turn off location services and ad personalization on their electronic devices, use a VPN or private web browser and be careful about what is shared on social media.

— The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York has released two requests for proposals for the public-private Social Equity Cannabis Investment Program, which was included in the new state budget. They address: Selection of fund sponsor, general partner and fund manager to manage the New York Social Equity Cannabis Investment Program; and selection of design-build firms to support development of retail dispensaries. Proposals are due June 8 and June 13, respectively.

WE LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU: This roundup is for you! Send news tips, health tips, ideas, criticisms and corrections to [email protected] and [email protected].

NOW WE KNOW — Apparently there’s a right way to take a mental-health day.

TODAY’S TIP — Go see a doctor if you’re still experiencing pandemic-related health and wellness issues.

MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW Amanda @aeis17 and Shannon @ShannonYoung413 on Twitter. And for all New Jersey health news, check out Daniel Han, @danieljhan_.

STUDY THIS — Vaccines could have prevented at least 318,000 Covid-19 deaths from January 2021 to April 2022, according to a new analysis from researchers at Brown School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Microsoft AI for Health. “This means that at least every second person who died from Covid-19 since vaccines became available might have been saved by getting the shot.”

The Buffalo News profiles the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting at a Tops market.

Abortion rights supportersheld demonstrations in New York City and major cities around the country.

Kaiser Health News looks at how “few eligible families have applied for government help to pay for Covid funerals.”

White House Covid-19 coordinator Ashish Jha told The Associated Press “that the U.S. will be increasingly vulnerable to the coronavirus this fall and winter if Congress doesn’t swiftly approve new funding for more vaccines and treatments.”

The New York Times examines how rising prices are changing grocery shoppers’ habits.

The U.S. “is about to make a big gamble on our next Covid winter,” The Atlantic reports.

Moderna “wasn’t aware” of an investigation into its new Chief Financial Officer, Jorge Gomez, the Wall Street Journal reports.

POLITICO’s Erin Banco reports that Africa finally has enough Covid shots. Is it too little, too late?

A painful and foreboding reality is setting in for the White House as it enters a potentially dangerous stretch of the Covid fight: It may soon need to run its sprawling pandemic response on a shoestring budget, POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn reports.

POLITICO’s Connor O’Brien reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday dinged a Senate Republican push to tie billions in pandemic aid to a vote on overturning the Biden administration’s move to end pandemic-era border restrictions, reupping calls for the upper chamber to pass the billions in stalled funding.

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