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In this week’s Friday Five, MAXIMUS is reading about changes to Medicaid due to COVID-19, a push for online SNAP shopping, high-risk populations with mental illness, ways to streamline digital transformation, and barriers to receiving unemployment benefits.

1. Medicaid program response to COVID-19  

More than 40 states have approved Medicaid 1135 waivers, which provide flexibility for health care providers due to a public health emergency. According to the National Law Review, states are also applying for Section 1115 waivers, which offer flexibility in enrolling and serving beneficiaries, and home and community-based services 1915(c) waivers. In addition, the federal government has approved a 6.2% increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage.

2. States urge US to allow SNAP recipients to grocery shop online   

Individuals who received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are only eligible to use those benefits for online shopping in six states. The New York Post reports this means millions of people are physically required to go to the grocery store, even if they may be high-risk for COVID-19. States are encouraging the government to expand the online shopping pilot program, as well as streamline applications and renewals.

3. COVID-19 care access concerns for populations with mental illness 

Individuals with severe mental illness may be at particular risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to access to care issues, limited social support, and increased mental health challenges due to work or lifestyle changes, according to Patient Engagement HIT. Experts recommend tailoring community outreach, empowering mental health systems and providers, and contingency plans for long-term care facilities.

4. Is COVID-19 forcing your digital transformation? 12 steps to move faster  

Adapting to business within the COVID-19 pandemic has sped up many organizations’ moves toward digital transformation. In this blog, published by Forbes, the author provides 12 steps to aid the process. They include focusing on the customer, having committed leadership, an integrated data strategy, high standards for data privacy and security, and providing personalized services.

5. Unemployed still waiting for checks as states struggle to pay out stimulus funds

Millions of individuals have applied for unemployment benefits in the past few weeks, as mass layoffs occur nationwide. Politico reports states are struggling with the volume of applications, antiquated systems (including some programmed in Cobol), and new federal guidance. The surge of claims has left many applicants frustrated as states struggle to keep up and request additional federal assistance.