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In this week’s Friday Five, Maximus is reading about options for telehealth reimbursement, Medicaid managed care plans, groups at increased risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms, and updates to the Centers of Excellence initiative. 

1. Telehealth reimbursement continues to expand for Medicare and Medicaid

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) continues to take action to increase telehealth adoption during COVID-19. According to Mintz, last week CMS expanded the types of practitioners that can be reimbursed for telehealth services, is now allowing limited audio-only services, and has increased reimbursement rates. CMS also approved state-specific waivers that loosen reimbursement restrictions. 

2. How Medicaid managed care plans address SDOH, expand care access

According to a study referenced by Health Payer Intelligence, Medicaid managed care plans have made strides in increasing telehealth availability, addressing social determinants of health, and improving both access to care and provider selection. Medicaid managed care plans have more flexibility to address multiple elements that can impact health than traditional fee-for-service models.

3. Social determinants of health, comorbidities sway COVID-19 severity 

Communities of color and low-income individuals are more likely to suffer severe COVID-19 symptoms. According to Patient Engagement HIT, American Indian and Alaska Native populations are at highest risk of severe symptoms. The likelihood of severe symptoms correlates with income. Those making under $15,000 annually are most at risk, predominantly due to underlying health conditions as well as inability to effectively socially distance. 

4. GSA suggests using ‘secret shoppers’ to evaluate call centers 

The General Services Administration’s (GSA) Centers of Excellence initiative recently offered an outline and advice for other federal agencies interested in using ‘secret shoppers’ to evaluate call centers. NextGov reports that the tips include knowing specifically what you are looking to measure, developing authentic personas, and providing ‘shoppers’ with the appropriate background material.

5. FDA becomes ninth Centers of Excellence partner, hot on the heels of NIH

The FDA’s Office of Information Management and Technology (OIMT) has become the ninth GSA Centers of Excellence partner. According to FedScoop, the partnership will fast track FDA’s core IT modernization capabilities. The OIMT manages all the Food and Drug Administration’s IT infrastructure.