What We're Reading: Medicare Issues Readmission Penalties; Virginia Abortion Law Ruling; Vitamin A's Role in Skin Cancer

October 1, 2019

Medicare cut payments to 2583 hospitals for penalties related to 30-day patient readmissions; a judge delivers a mixed ruling on Virginia abortion law; a study finds vitamin A is linked to a lower risk of squamous cell carcinoma.

Medicare Readmission Penalties Strike 2583 Hospitals

Medicare cut payments to 2583 hospitals today, under a requirement from the Affordable Care Act that pressures hospitals into decreasing patient readmissions, according to Kaiser Health News. The 30-day readmission penalty focuses on reducing the number of patients who return for a second stay. The severity and application of the penalties will cost hospitals an estimated $563 million over a year, with 83% of the 3129 general hospital evaluated in the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program having received penalties.

Virginia Abortion Law Challenge Receives Mixed Ruling

On Monday, US District Judge Henry Hudson upheld a Virginia law that requires women to undergo an ultrasound and wait at least 24 hours before having an abortion, in addition to upholding the state’s law allowing only physicians, not nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants, from performing abortions. The Associated Press reports that the ruling came as a part of a lawsuit that challenged 4 Virginia laws that prosecutors say restrict access to abortion in the state. While Hudson upheld 2 laws, he also overturned 2 state laws, including a law that requires all second-trimester abortions to be performed at a licensed outpatient hospital and regulations that would have required clinics that administer first-trimester abortions to meet the same facility requirements as general and surgical hospitals.

Foods High in Vitamin A Linked to Lower Risk of Skin Cancer

Receiving high amounts of vitamin A in one’s diet is linked to a lower risk for a common form of skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma, according to The New York Times. The original study, which was published in JAMA Dermatology, utilized health and diet data from 123,570 men and women participating in 2 long-term studies, with 3978 squamous cell carcinoma cases being reported. After controlling for various health factors, the researchers found that compared with the one-fifth of people with the lowest intake of vitamin A, those with the highest one-fifth intake had a 17% reduced risk of this form of skin cancer. The senior author told the paper it is "a modest association" but one that still warrants further consumption of vitamin A rich foods.