Trending News Today: Department of Veterans Affairs Launches Telehealth Initiative

Top news of the day from across the healthcare landscape.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Trump administration is penalizing hospitals whose readmissions for Medicare patients are too high, according to Kaiser Health News. The number of hospitals facing the penalties dropped by 2 dozen, but 2573 had high readmission rates. In October, these hospitals could see a reimbursement reduction of as much as 3% per year, according to the article. High readmission has been linked to poor patient outcomes and high costs for Medicare, and the rule aims to reduce this occurrence.

President Donald Trump recently complimented the new telehealth initiatives taken by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The approach connects veterans with healthcare providers through phones or computers to improve care, especially among those with a mental illness or a high risk of suicide, USA Today reported. The application can also allow veterans to schedule appointments on their phones and may benefit those living in rural areas who may not have easy access to providers.

While the opioid epidemic is traditionally thought of in terms of overdoses, it has also resulted in an increase in driving under the influence of these drugs, according to USA Today. A new study found that there has been a 7-fold increase—from 1% 1995 to 7.2% in 2015— in drivers killed while under the influence of opioids, according to the article. The authors found that the 3 most commonly detected opioids were oxycodone, morphine, and codeine. These individuals were also highly likely to have other drugs or alcohol in their system, according to the article.