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Friday Five: Medicaid expansion linked to reduced deaths from substance abuse

In this week’s Friday Five, MAXIMUS is reading about the push for transparency in Medicaid waiver amendments, Florida’s efforts to increase CHIP coverage, the difficulties in sharing social determinants of health data, how Medicaid expansion influences substance abuse-related deaths, and reinvesting in federal IT.

1. GAO finds transparency lacking in Medicaid waiver amendment process

A recent review from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that states could make significant changes to Medicaid through amendments to existing or pending waivers. According to Health Leaders Media, amendment applications don’t require the same information about enrollment impact or a public comment period, although some states still include them. GAO recommends new policies to ensure transparency when states propose major changes or amendments to Section 1115 waivers.

2. Thousands of Florida children have no health insurance. A new infusion of money aims to help

New federal and state funding will help reduce health insurance costs for children in Florida. The Tampa Bay Times reports nearly $7 million will be used to assist families that make too much to qualify for Medicaid or subsidized insurance. The funding will help eliminate deductibles and co-insurance in the “full-pay” children’s health insurance plan, available to families with incomes above 200% of the poverty line.

3. Social determinants of health data deemed most difficult to share

A recent survey found that respondents believe social determinants of health and behavioral health data are the most difficult to share through electronic health information exchanges. EHR Intelligence reports the lack of standards for collecting and using this data hampers its shareability across the healthcare industry. 

4. Broader Medicaid eligibility may be a tool for reducing substance use disorder-related deaths

As reported in Clinical Pain Advisor, a recent study determined there was a reduction of deaths due to substance use disorders in states that expanded Medicaid eligibility. While deaths due to substance abuse rose nationwide from 2002-2015, the study estimates that Medicaid expansion prevented more than 1,000 deaths in the 28 states that had increased eligibility limits. 

5. Savings from RPA should be reinvested in IT, says Federal CIO

Suzette Kent, Federal CIO, wants to quantify savings from implementing robotic process automation (RPA) and reinvest funds into other IT projects. FedScoop reports this would require tracking the impact of RPA and moving the money into a working capital fund, as allowed under the Modernizing Government Technology Act. Only six federal agencies have created working capital funds, as of April 2019.