Friday Five: Pilot programs test approaches to addressing substance abuse and child support underpayment
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In this week’s Friday Five, MAXIMUS is reading about pilot programs for substance abuse treatment and employment assistance, the use of bots for customer service or repetitive tasks, and an anticipated surge in fourth quarter government spending.
Results are in from four California counties that were early adopters of a pilot program designed to make substance abuse treatment easier for individuals on Medicaid to access. According to California Health Report, the program has allowed counties to offer more treatment options, coordinate and monitor care, and raise provider reimbursement rates – in turn, increasing the number of patients accepted. California is the first state to implement the five-year pilot program.
A recent survey found that consumers ideally want both digital and human options for customer service. MarTech Series reports that nearly 50% of consumers will use a chatbot, with another 25% opting to use email or social media. But as requests get more complicated, the preference for a human conversation increases. The survey also showed an expectation that companies would have a history of an individual’s past interactions with the organization and concerns about data security.
According to Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave Media, 25% of non-custodial parents in Michigan that owe child support do so because or unemployment or low-income employment. Families Forward, a demonstration program, is now offering certification programs (for welding, mechanics, and production fields) and job search assistance for parents who are struggling to pay child support.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is promoting robotic process automation (RPA) as a means to free employees up from low-value, repetitive tasks. FedScoop reports that RPA is not currently extensively used in government agencies, but that it could help focus limited resources on activities that matter more to citizens. OMB is asking agencies to designate points of contact, develop strategies, and provide progress updates.
NextGov reports that due to the delayed passage of the omnibus spending bill, government agencies spent funds cautiously early in the year and are now in the position of needing to obligate substantial funds by September 30 when the fiscal year ends. Typically, agencies allocate approximately 30% of their funds during the fourth quarter, but this year only 2 of the 10 largest agencies have spent 70% of their budgets at the end of the third quarter.