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In this week’s Friday Five, Maximus is reading about recent trends in Medicaid and CHIP enrollment, a decrease in the number of foster care children, a new wave of unemployment benefits, and evaluating the benefits of a national secure data service.

1. Analysis of recent national trends in Medicaid and CHIP enrollment

Prior to the COVID pandemic, Medicaid and CHIP enrollment had been declining for several years. But as this data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows, enrollment began increasing again in February as the pandemic’s impact began to be felt in the United States. Experts believe enrollment will continue to show increases as more individuals and families become eligible due to job, income, or insurance losses.

2. New federal data: Fewer kids in US foster care system 

The number of children in foster care has dropped for the second year in a row, while adoption rates have increased. According to the Associated Press, the percentage of children living in institutions or group homes has also dropped, a reflection of policies such as the Families First Prevention Services Act. Parental neglect and substance abuse were two common causes cited why children were removed from their parent’s care.

3. $300 weekly federal unemployment insurance benefits approved for majority of states  

The majority of states have received approval to begin issuing a $300 weekly increase in unemployment benefits. According to Forbes, dates vary as to when residents will begin receiving the benefits, based on both the state’s approval date and how quickly they can update their systems. Arizona residents were the first to receive the additional funds. Unlike the previous unemployment expansion, individuals will not be eligible unless they are already receiving at least $100 in state benefits. 

4. HHS targets social determinants of health with Healthy People 2030 

Healthy People 2030, the Department of Health and Human Services’ 10-year objectives, listed social determinants of health as one of their key areas of focus for the first time. Patient Engagement HIT reports that along with social determinants, key objectives include improving health disparities, health literacy, chronic diseases, health behaviors, population health, healthcare-associated infections, and addressing emerging public health threats.

5. National data service must be shaped by agencies’ needs, experts say 

The Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building will be tasked with determining the value of a national secure data service for federal agencies. According to NextGov, the committee will outline logistics surrounding the creation and maintenance of the service and its usefulness to improve agency operations.