In the name of public health, a goal to create a population in New York City of poor people who are less poor; experts examine challenges in implementing state-based exchanges; why a tuna fish sandwich is a conflict of interest. Those top stories and more plus the latest coverage of the Association of Health Care Journalist annual conference in Boston this week included in today’s public health headlines for Saturday, March 16.

The Boston Globe – Massachusetts health officials bristle at new federal rules that could drive up health costs
State business and government leaders say federal rules stemming from the national health care overhaul threaten to drive up insurance costs in Massachusetts, a state widely viewed as a model for the sweeping legislation signed by President Obama in 2010.

New York Times – In Obesity Fight, Poverty Is Patient Zero
Under the category “Summer Rentals That Have Gone Terribly Wrong,” there are perhaps few parallels to the experience of Charles Henry Warren, a Manhattan banker who, in 1906, took a house in Oyster Bay on Long Island’s North Shore. By the end of the season, Mr. Warren’s young daughter had developed typhoid. She was soon followed in illness by Mr. Warren’s wife, a second daughter, two maids and a gardener. At the time, typhoid, a bacterial illness spread through contaminated food and water, was largely a disease of the urban poor. The property’s owner, George Thompson, concerned that the house, on which he relied for rental income, would become associated with tenement filth in the minds of wealthy New Yorkers, invited a sanitary engineer to determine the source of the outbreak.

The Augusta Chronicle – Next year’s health care reform will be a “mess,” experts predict
When health care reforms begin this year and new insurance starts next year, it will not be pretty, health experts said. “This is going to be a mess,” said Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, likening it to the bumpy launch of the Medicare Part D prescription drug program in 2006, which was “1/100th as complex” as the Affordable Care Act will be.

Omaha World-Herald – Lawmakers debate whether pop tax would help shrink Nebraskans’ waistlines
Could a tax on soft drinks help shrink a supersized Nebraska? State Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln argued Friday that ending the sales tax exemption for pop will help address health problems and costs linked to the state’s increasing obesity rate. His proposal, Legislative Bill 447, would direct the $11 million collected annually by a pop tax to school health education programs.

Buffalo Business First – How much power does a tuna fish sandwich really hold?
Whether it’s a tuna sandwich, a steak dinner or a $2,000 payment, there’s always the possibility of intentional or unintentional influence. And that’s how conflicts of interest begin. That was the message Friday here in Boston from a panel participating at the Association for Health Care Journalists 2013 conference who spoke about reporting on medical and financial conflicts of interest. Reporters Peter Whoriskey of the Washington Post and John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who told the story behind some of their award-winning reports on the topic.

MedPage Today – Hitting Quality Standards May Pit Docs Against Patients
Physicians who push hard to meet popular quality standards may be going against their patients’ wishes regarding certain medical treatments, two physician advocates said here. The threat of getting getting publicly labeled as a bad doctor — or having payments docked by Medicare or private payers — is creating pressure on the physician-patient relationship, Jerome Groopman, MD, of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said Thursday.