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In this week’s Friday Five, MAXIMUS is reading about pending changes to Medicare provider enrollment, a decrease in the poverty rate, an insider view of federal IT efforts, and an opportunity for states to introduce wellness programs to their individual insurance markets. 

1. CMS final rule strengthens integrity of Medicare provider enrollment process 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is accepting comments through November 4 on a rule expanding enrollment reporting requirements and program integrity efforts. In this article, published by JD Supra, the authors explain the changes that will be implemented when the final rule goes into effect this fall. 

2. Percentage of people in poverty dropped for the fifth consecutive year 

According to Census Bureau: The percentage of individuals with incomes below the poverty level dropped yet again from 2017 to 2018. This is the fifth year in a row showing an overall decline, with just more than 13% of people considered to be living in poverty. Rates vary widely from state to state, with New Hampshire having the lowest rate (7.8%), while Mississippi has the highest (19.7%). Connecticut was the only state to see an increase in their poverty rate in 2018.

3. Aging in America, in 5 charts 

Concerned about the aging population? US News and World Report breaks down (includes charts) which states have the highest percentage of senior residents, the regions where they report the best physical and mental health, how cost of care compares to quality, and the unemployment rate for seniors as compared to all adults.  

4. An insider’s take on how to focus on government’s IT strengths  

In this article, NextGov reports insights from Ed Mullen, a designer who has worked within government IT for more than eight years, about IT’s strengths and how to improve service delivery. Among his takeaways: technology used to administer and access safety net programs is aging and extensive oversight can impede the modernization process. He argues that federal agencies should digitize eligibility criteria and focus on the experience from the perspective of a state employee.

5. Pilot to reward healthier behavior with lower individual market premiums  

The federal government recently announced that 10 states will have the opportunity to participate in a demonstration project that would allow insurers offering individual health plans to offer incentives for participating in wellness programs. According to Health Leaders Media, states must show that the programs wouldn’t decrease coverage, increase costs, or discriminate due to health status. If successful, the pilot could be expanded to additional states after three years.