Weekly Dose of Health News

In this week’s summary, you’ll find details on new health appointments by the Governor, projections on NY health insurance rates under ACA, a hospital merger in NYC, and more!

Governor Cuomo announced appointments to various health positions in his administration. Courtney Burke was named the new Deputy Secretary for Health; Laurie Kelley will serve as Acting Commissioner of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities; and Dr. Ann Sullivan is the new Acting Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health.

Affordable Care Act

For New York individuals purchasing their own health insurance under the state’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act, rates are expected to be 50% less than what individuals currently pay, according to state officials.  New York currently has approximately 2.6 million uninsured, some of which will benefit from cheaper rates.  New York also holds the distinction of having the highest insurance premium rates in the country.  Department of Financial Assistance officials are making the rate announcement this week, according to the New York Times.

The Washington Post writes that the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday (July 17) to repeal two important provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the requirements that individuals purchase insurance coverage and that businesses with over 50 employees provide coverage.  This is a largely symbolic act since the Senate has no plans to take up the legislation and the President will veto the House bill.  The Obama Administration has already delayed the business requirement.  In an offensive strategy, President Obama is touting the benefits of the health law in a speech on Thursday.   Proponents of the law are using New York’s announcement on health exchange insurance rates as proof of the ACA’s benefits.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a YouToons video that uses animation to walk ‘fellow Americans’ through the Affordable Care Act implementation.  This may look familiar to readers, as Kaiser released a YouToons educational video in 2010, designed to explain how the (at the time) new law would work.  A Spanish-language version is also available through the above link.


The New York Times reports that two large hospital systems will be merging in New York City, with the merger expected to be completed by this fall.  Mt. Sinai and Continuum Health Partners (Beth Israel and two St. Luke’s hospitals) will combine to create a 3,300 bed entity, which spans across seven campuses in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.  This merger will create the largest system in New York City outside of the public hospital system.  The systems are ostensibly merging to meet the demands of Affordable Care Act implementation, where patient volume is prized as the end of fee for service care approaches.  Critics claim that this giant health system will raise costs for insurers and consumers.


Lowered cholesterol levels for Americans have hit a plateau in recent years, according to a new study and reported by the New York Times here.  This may be due to multiple factors, including recession-related decreases in doctor visits and fewer prescriptions filled.  There has also been a decrease in prescribing of statins, drugs used to lower cholesterol, since 2010.  The nation’s rise in obesity may also be a significant factor.

The Washington Post surveys information on the benefits of lifelong, regular exercise in preventing physical decline in this article.  Ongoing of exercise also enhances a person’s ability to perform tasks of daily living longer than non-exercising individuals.

-Jaime Venditti, 7/19/13