What We're Reading: Duke University's New Health Policy Center

What we're reading, October 20, 2015: Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, will lead Duke's Center for Health Policy; the eligible uninsured will face higher fines in 2016; and Canadian researchers use digital media to improve quality and care outcomes.

McClellan to Lead Duke’s New Health Policy Center

A new health policy center to help translate novel ideas on health reform into practice will soon be lunched by Duke University. The Duke-Robert J. Margolis, MD, Center for Health Policy will focus on business, biomedical research, clinical care, public policy, global health, law, and other policy areas. Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former FDA commissioner, has been chosen to head the center.

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Look to Europe to Reduce Drug Prices

Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have recently proposed plans to reduce prescription drugs prices, and the most common criticism is that such plans would squelch innovation. However, there is a way to keep prices low while encouraging innovation. Europe, which pays a fraction of what the US pays for drugs, has pushed prices lower through a system of reference pricing. Health economist Austin Frakt, a new board member of The American Journal of Managed Care, wrote in a blog post for The New York Times that reference pricing could help bring down the price of the new PCSK9 inhibitors, which have a list price of $14,000 a year.

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Uninsured to Face Stiffer Fines in 2016

Those who are eligible but remain uninsured as enrollment begins November 1, 2015, might be in for a rude shock. The federal government will charge this eligible uninsured population $695 or 2.5% of their taxable income, whichever is greater, if they remain uninsured for an entire year. This is significantly steeper than the fine imposed this year: $325 or 2% of income.

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Using Digital Devices to Improve Post-Operative Outcomes

Canadian researchers have documented the advantages of digital media: text message reminders to guard against cancellations for procedures and Web-based modules to increase patient participation in reporting post-operative progress. The lead author believes these tools can help improve outcomes, reduce ER visits, and improve patient satisfaction.

Read more here.