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How Medicaid puts opioid addicts at risk




As a physician on the front lines of our state’s opioid epidemic, I witness its devastation first-hand. This scourge destroys individuals, families and entire neighborhoods. Its breadth is not limited by wealth, race or sex. It is an equal-opportunity disease.

It fills our jails and prisons at an increasing rate and at a high cost. A 2015 report by the mayor’s office found 85% of detainees in New York jails have a substance-use disorder. About 80% of state prison inmates need treatment as well. Clearly, they should receive it before being released.

At Rikers Island, they do. In fact, the city’s main jail complex has one of the most advanced programs in the country for opioid-addicted inmates. Every type of medication-assisted treatment is provided, the most popular of which is buprenorphine/naloxone—an excellent medication that reduces opioid cravings and eases withdrawal. It has a strong safety profile that eliminates the need for a daily visit to a clinic.

Rikers uses a buprenorphine medication that dissolves quickly, reducing the time users must be observed. And the optimal dose can be achieved in a single pill, which limits the diversion and contraband we see around these products.
However, because New York’s Medicaid plan severely limits the choice of buprenorphine products (there are several), individuals who leave Rikers are forced to change to a different one, seriously undermining their continuity of care and chances for recovery. This increases the likelihood they will relapse, return to the criminal system or even die.

New York must stop handicapping these vulnerable patients’ recovery. Our Medicaid program should cover all FDA-approved buprenorphine/naloxone products. This is the textbook formula for dealing with epidemics: Bring all the interventions to bear while unshackling providers to meet patients’ needs.
Many states—most recently Texas and Ohio—have reformed their Medicaid coverages in this drug class to meet similar challenges. New York has to be next.

The chances of an inmate gaining appropriate addiction treatment in New York are remote, as a recent Assembly hearing confirmed. We must do better for inmates, their families and taxpayers. Effective treatment benefits all of us. We look to our leaders in Albany to step up on this crucial issue.


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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