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In this week’s Friday Five, Maximus is reading about social determinants, IT challenges related to COVID-19 relief funds, state efforts to expand telehealth access, ties between unemployment and understaffing in nursing homes, and efforts to improve cybersecurity for DOD contractors.

1. 4 key SDOH impeding chronic disease management

Social determinants of health (SDOH) can be barriers to individuals successfully managing their chronic diseases, and addressing them could not only improve health, but lower healthcare costs. Patient Engagement HIT points out four social determinants with major health impacts and the ways the healthcare industry has begun to approach them. They include geography, income, educational attainment, and housing security.

2. 37 IGs report on agency tech challenges related to $2.4 trillion COVID relief

IT security and management has been identified as one of four areas of concern in a recent report from the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. According to NextGov, the committee specifically pointed to potential issues related to the increased use of federal networks caused by the rapid move to mass telework, shifting IT resources, and increased risk of cyberattacks.

3. State efforts to expand Medicaid coverage & access to telehealth in response to COVID-19 

All 50 states have expanded telehealth access for Medicaid beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic in some way, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. States have flexibility to determine how and whether certain services can utilize telehealth. Many states have expanded telehealth by broadening the Medicaid populations that can use it, experimenting with different delivery technologies, adjusting payment rates, and expanding the types of providers that can be reimbursed for telehealth services. 

4. Nursing homes struggle as staff choose unemployment checks over paychecks 

NPR reports that nursing homes and long-term care facilities were understaffed prior to COVID-19, and the issue has exacerbated as the pandemic rages on. The additional $600 per week added to unemployment benefits, currently scheduled to expire at the end of July, has many certified nursing assistants (CNAs) opting to stay on unemployment and caused some in the industry to call for the government to supplement wages for nurses, CNAs, and other front-line workers.

5. The DOD wants better cybersecurity for its contractors. The first steps haven’t been easy.

Federal contracts are expected to require Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) starting this fall. FedScoop reports that without the certification or a waiver, companies will no longer be able to receive Department of Defense contracts. Concerns have been raised that the timeline is too fast to adequately hire and train the cyber assessors required. Still to be determined, the cost of assessments and how, specifically, the Accreditation Body will conduct oversight of the assessments.