Friday Five: Will we see an increase in Social Security benefits during this Congressional session?

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January 25, 2019
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In this week’s Friday Five, MAXIMUS is reading about the possibility of Social Security reform, the latest state to implement Medicaid work requirements, business vs. robotic process automation, and proposed increases to the Technology Modernization Fund.

1. This Social Security reform bill could be back on the table

Rep. John Larson (D - CT) has introduced several versions of a proposal to increase Social Security benefits in the past. According to the Motley Fool, now that the Democrats are again in control of the House and Larson is expected to become the chair of the Social Security subcommittee, it’s anticipated that he will introduce another version during the current congressional session. Past proposals included using a different measure of inflation to determine cost of living adjustments, raising minimum benefits, and raising the income threshold for tax-free benefits. The changes would be paid for by raising the Social Security tax and taxing income above the current wage base limit.

2. CMS approves 8th state for Medicaid work requirement

Last week, Arizona became the 8th state to receive approval to implement Medicaid work requirements via a Section 1115 waiver. Healthcare Dive reports that the work requirement, which applies to adults 19 – 49, is expected to begin in 2020. Arizona is currently the only state that exempts Native American tribe members from the requirement. They will also exempt pregnant women, the medically frail, and individuals in active substance abuse treatment.

3. Tight budgets slow Medicaid plans’ pursuit of social determinants of health

More Medicaid health plans are addressing social determinants of health; however, funding remains an issue. This blog, published in Forbes, discusses a recent report which found health plans had a greater interest in providing funding for housing, fresh food, etc. but also struggled to find sustainable funding to provide these benefits. Another barrier was a lack of data sharing between providers, insurers, and community organizations.

4. Robotic vs. business process automation: Which one should you use?

In this Forbes blog post, the author breaks down the differences and limitations of robotic process automation (RPA) and business process automation (BPA). He recommends RPA for when you need to automate back-end systems that are difficult to replace and need to perform simple, repetitive tasks. BPA, on the other hand, is a longer-term and more strategic look at the processes within an organization.

5. Latest bills to end shutdown include $25 million bump to Technology Modernization Fund

Spending bills released earlier this week included $25 million to add to the Technology Modernization Fund. According to NextGov, this is less than the $100 million an initial House bill proposed, but more than the Senate version, which did not include any additional funds. The compromise bill was never voted on, prompting the government shutdown. Six projects have already received commitments from the Fund and have begun work, leaving $31.5 million in current funding.

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