What We're Reading: Biden's Post-White House Plans Include Nonprofit Cancer Initiative

What we’re reading, January 5, 2017: Vice President Joe Biden will create a nonprofit organization to focus on cancer research and drug prices; school telemedicine could help kids stay in the classroom and out of the doctor’s office; bundled payments for joint replacements saved $5577 in spending per episode.

After 2 terms as vice president and endeavors like the Cancer Moonshot Initiative and the 21st Century Cures Act, Joe Biden does not plan to rest when he leaves office this month. In an interview with The Washington Post, Biden announced he would create a new nonprofit, tentatively called the Biden Cancer Initiative, to encourage oncology research. He also said that another major focus would be lowering the price of cancer drugs, especially for underserved populations.

According to a Pew report, telemedicine in schools could be a “game changer” for children’s health, allowing them to stay in the classroom longer by reducing unnecessary trips to a physician’s office or even the emergency room. Advocates predict that more school districts will use virtual medicine for managing chronic conditions or providing mental health counseling, not just addressing acute health complaints. However, a major barrier to implementation is the lack of coverage; just 18 states authorize Medicaid reimbursement for school telemedicine.

A JAMA investigation found a cost savings of $5577 per joint replacement episode when using the Medicare bundled payment model. The major drivers of the savings were reductions in implant costs and lower post-acute spending, including inpatient rehabilitation and skilled nursing facility costs. Readmissions and emergency department visits declined slightly, and episodes with a prolonged length of stay decreased 67%.

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