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Friday Five: Rural hospitals continue to struggle financially, particularly in Medicaid non-expansion states

In this week’s Friday Five, MAXIMUS is reading about how rural hospitals struggle financially in non-expansion states, upskilling the federal workforce in the face of automation, the VA’s hyper focus on customer experience, California’s preparedness for the “silver tsunami”, and opening doors for workers with disabilities.

1. ‘Where do we find the money?’ Once again, Medicaid expansion stalls in Alabama

Despite a push from the Alabama Hospital Association, Alabama is not expected to expand Medicaid this year. AL.com reports the state lacks $168 million in first-year expansion funding and $25 million per year in ongoing costs. The lack of expansion is likely to cause additional rural hospital closures. Nearly 90% of rural Alabama hospitals are losing money and more than 80% of rural hospital closures are in states that have not expanded Medicaid. 

2. OPM offers guides for handling automation’s effect on federal workforce

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released three guides to help federal workforces adapt to changing technology. According to FedScoop, the toolkit includes guides that focus on workforce and human capital strategies, reskilling, and steps for successful workforce transitions. The toolkit arrives as technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation are receiving more attention from both Congress and the White House.

3. How the Veterans Affairs Department is ‘hardwiring’ customer service into everything

In mid-May, the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) added improving the customer experience for veterans into their core values. NextGov reports that this may be the first time user experience is stated explicitly in a federal agency’s mission. 

4. California’s growing senior population by the numbers

California is one of the ten youngest states in the country, but projections show more than 20% of the population will be senior citizens within the next decade. The Mercury News breaks down the estimated increase in The Golden State’s elderly population, as well as senior demographics, housing, and finances. The state’s current senior services program is not expected to be enough to support the “silver tsunami.” 

5. Increasing opportunities for workers with disabilities

The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is nearly double the national average. In this Washington Times opinion piece, the author argues for an enhanced “Ticket to Work” program and better communication of its existence and offerings to individuals receiving Social Security disability benefits. The Ticket to Work program helps individuals find jobs, report their earnings, and protects their benefits during a trial period.