Skip to main content

In this week’s Friday Five, Maximus is reading about advocates for boosting SNAP benefits, efforts to improve government research technology, telehealth reimbursement changes, and how increasing Medicaid enrollment is stretching state budgets.

1. Fighting food insecurity amid COVID-19, groups advocate for 15% food stamp boost 

Approximately 2,500 organizations are calling on the federal government to boost the maximum food stamp benefit by 15% as more families struggle to afford healthy foods during the pandemic. According to Forbes, more than 20% of U.S. households are experiencing food insecurity, and many of those households include young children. Black and Hispanic households are also more likely to report food insecurity. The government has issued additional benefits to families with children who had been participating in free or reduced-lunch programs and issued guidance that families should receive the maximum benefit for their household size. However, 40% of SNAP households have not yet seen any increase in their benefits.

2. Congress inches closer to creating a national cloud for AI research

Earlier this month, the National AI Research Resource Task Force Act was introduced. NextGov reports, the Act would establish a task force to work toward developing a national cloud that scientists and students could use for research. It was endorsed by more than 20 major tech companies and universities. Supporters say the cloud would lower barriers to further developing artificial intelligence and deep learning applications by making computing power and data more accessible.

3. Senators call for CMS to provide plan for telehealth changes 

A bipartisan group of Senators asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to create a written plan that would make telehealth changes permanent for Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP. According to Healthcare IT News, both patients and providers have expressed concern about an abrupt end to telehealth policies established during the COVID pandemic.

4. Medicaid enrollment increase puts pressure on state budgets

More individuals and families are now eligible for Medicaid, due to unemployment and lost income from the COVID pandemic. This jump in enrollment is causing a strain on state budgets at a time when revenues have also fallen. Roll Call reports that states, and their advocates, are calling on the federal government to provide additional funding to help address budget shortfalls.  

5. GSA’s Centers of Excellence program would be codified in Senate bill 

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate are looking to codify the Centers of Excellence program into law. According to NextGov, a recent bill introduced into the Senate would officially lay out the responsibilities and governance models to improve the government’s use of technology. The bill is expected to help federal agencies better build relationships with the private sector around modernization efforts.