Weekly Dose of Health News

In this week’s summary, you’ll find details on an agreement to move the mentally ill in NYC into supportive housing apartments, the push by President Obama to enroll the uninsured before Oct. 1, a possible ban on menthol cigarettes, and more!

Supportive Housing Agreement in New York City

Governor Cuomo has resolved a long-standing legal issue over housing for the mentally ill in New York City by agreeing on Tuesday to give 4,000 individuals the opportunity to leave institutional homes and move into their own supportive housing apartments.  The state will set up 2,000 apartments initially, and more if needed.  Supportive housing provides certain services to people that better enable them to live independently.  The article can be found here.

Affordable Care Act

The New York Times reports that the Obama Administration is working feverishly to sell its health reform plan and help ensure a successful rollout by October 1 of this year.  The big focus is on enrolling 2.7 million uninsured18-35 year old, relatively healthy individuals.  The effort includes statistical analysis of the uninsured, high-profile appearances by the President and celebrities, the establishment of call centers and coordination with health plans, hospitals and health centers, pharmacies, mayors and state officials.


The Washington Post writes that Medicare announced plans to accelerate linking doctor pay to quality measures.  The announced changes will affect nearly 500,000 physicians working in groups. The Affordable Care Act requires large physician groups to receive bonuses or penalties, based on their quality of performance by 2015.  All doctors who take Medicare patients will be phased into the quality incentive program by 2017.


Senior moments may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Los Angeles Times.  While not conclusive, multiple studies indicate that there may be a correlation between memory loss and dementia.  Stress, depression and cardiovascular disease may also contribute to memory loss and researchers are determining ways to sift through the data to determine which memory loss is related to dementia and which to other causes.

The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) has this release on the alarming rates of obesity in New York’s disabled population.  This week, the New York State Department of Health released a report stating that almost 70% of disabled New Yorkers are overweight or obese, which far exceeds rates for other populations.  New York City has nutritional standards in place for its agencies that serve the disabled.  Efforts are underway to help state agencies and community-based organizations get technical assistance and funds to implement similar standards.

The L.A. Times reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may seek to restrict or ban menthol cigarettes in the belief that they are more addictive than unflavored tobacco.  Since the Administration began enhanced regulation of tobacco in 2009, it has banned cigarette additives such as cloves, chocolate and fruit flavors.  So far, FDA has been reluctant to regulate menthol cigarettes, which are popular in African American communities.  Groups have urged the FDA to not restrict menthol out of fear that such restrictions could increase black market sales of menthol cigarettes and create an added burden for law enforcement agencies.  The FDA has acknowledged that menthol cigarette advertising is greater in African American communities and may contribute to menthol cigarette preferences.  The article also discusses reports that menthol may cause tobacco to behave differently in the body and contribute to the increased rate of smoking by menthol cigarette users.

-Jaime Venditti, 7/26/13