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In this week’s Friday Five, Maximus is reading about the safety net for the economically vulnerable, an increased awareness of mental health issues, organizations using social determinants data to improve health equity, and the Census Bureau’s focus on cybersecurity. 

1. State actions to facilitate access to Medicaid and CHIP coverage in response to COVID-19 

More than 85% of states have enacted changes, beyond those required to receive a temporary bump in the federal reimbursement rate, to ease access and enrollment to Medicaid and CHIP for their residents. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, these changes roughly fall into three categories: eligibility expansion, elimination of premiums, and streamlined enrollment processes.

2. 4 ways COVID-19 has exposed gaps in the US social safety net

This blog post, published in The Conversation, points out how individuals could fall through the gaps in the social safety net. These gaps include experiencing payment delays or not qualifying to receive either the stimulus check or unemployment, being unable to afford expensive out-of-pocket treatment costs or health insurance, and unstable housing situations as the ban on evictions is lifted. The author argues that integrating social benefit programs and using newer technologies would better assist economically vulnerable people.

3. Quarantine shines a light on the health effects of loneliness and social isolation

Is COVID-19 an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of mental health? In this blog post, published by Grit Daily, the author discusses how the impact of social isolation on health has never been more prominent, as millions struggle during the pandemic. The upside to this common experience is that it could lead to more people seeking psychological treatments and a greater understanding of the link between physical and mental health.

4. Using social determinants to promote health equity during a crisis

Minority populations, individuals living with chronic disease, and those in underserved areas experience more severe effects from COVID-19. To combat this, Health IT Analytics reports, organizations are trying to gather, access, and share more data on social determinants of health and COVID. The hope is that increased data will help better identify needs and disparities, allocate resources, and implement policy changes.

5. Census Bureau needs help protecting its networks for the next decade

As the Census Bureau adopts a more digital-focused approach to gathering and producing data, they have issued a Request for Information on cybersecurity best practices. FedScoop reports the agency is interested in continuous monitoring services, proactive cyber defense, and cybersecurity tools and services that would help it protect information about the U.S. population.