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Friday Five: Lower-income Americans increasingly report being in poorer health than the wealthy

In this week’s Friday Five, MAXIMUS is reading about how income inequality and health are intertwined, federal funding for peer mental health counseling, a revamped IRS customer service strategy, an increase of older workers in the workforce, and how our recent acquisition of call center contracts enhanced our federal business.

1. The gap between rich and poor Americans’ health is widening 

A new study finds that the self-reported health of wealthy people has remained relatively stable since 1993, while that of lower-income Americans has dropped. NPR reports the health gap between white and black Americans has narrowed, while the health gap based on income has increased. The healthiest group overall is white men with high incomes. The results lend credence to the need for an increased focus on social determinants of health.

2. State lawmakers eye federal dollars to boost mental health counseling by peers

Pending legislation in California would create a process to certify peer support workers. According to Kaiser Health News, California is one of only two states that have yet to create a mechanism for certification. Certified peer support specialists, which are often funded through Medicaid, allow individuals who have previously struggled with mental health issues to help others in a similar situation.

3. Top 100: Acquisition puts MAXIMUS on transformation path

The 2018 MAXIMUS acquisition of General Dynamics’ IT call center business brought in both increased revenue and federal contracts. Washington Technology reports the acquisition helped the company advance to #25 on their list of the 2019 Top 100 largest government contractors in the federal market. The additional federal business now makes up approximately 1/3 of the Company’s revenue, with international and health and human services contracts rounding out the financial picture.

4. Congress passes bill that forces IRS to revamp taxpayer experience

Congress has passed a bill that would require the Internal Revenue System (IRS) to improve its customer experience. According to NextGov, the Taxpayer First Act would require the agency to develop and submit a customer service strategy to Congress within a year. Despite taking some steps to improve service, the IRS ranked as one of the worst customer service providers on a recent survey.

5. Gray wave of workers gives slow-growing world a boost

The world’s population may be aging, but they aren’t retiring. According to the Wall Street Journal, many developed countries, including the U.S., are seeing an increase in labor-force participation from adults over the age of 55. Reasons for this increased participation vary, but include changes to retirement policies, pensions, and an increased life expectancy. Economists say the swell of older workers will help companies in a time of low unemployment, while also buttressing public finances.