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In this week’s Friday Five, Maximus is reading about unemployment claims reports, the role of Medicaid managed care plans, antiquated government IT systems, and proposed child support reform during COVID-19.

1. U.S. jobless-claims figures inflated by states' backlog-clearing

Millions of individuals are still filing for unemployment, but the way claims numbers have been reported for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program may paint a picture more dire than the reality. Bloomberg News reports that as states clear backlogs and a retroactive claim is processed, each retroactive week is counted as an individual new claim. This can make it appear that more individuals have newly lost their jobs and makes it more difficult to compare weekly statistics, but is unlikely to alter the overall trend of high unemployment numbers.

2. Medicaid managed care plans have an opportunity to play a key role in recovery

Medicaid managed care plans, who are paid per patient rather than using fee-for-service, are likely to be in a strong financial position due to increasing Medicaid enrollment and a decrease in healthcare utilization. According to Health Affairs, this funding could help address social determinants of health, as social needs are anticipated to rise because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three main areas of potential impact are supporting community health centers and rural hospitals, hiring and training community health workers, and providing resources for coordinating entities.  

3. Data-driven government should be bottom-up as well as top-down  

Providing data to senior leaders who can then use it to make strategic decisions is important, but so is empowering your frontline workforce. In this Federal News Network blog post, the author makes the case that providing frontline workers more data visibility and access, allows them to make many smaller, quicker decisions that can have as much of an impact as a larger, strategic shift.

4. How Medicaid must upgrade its information technology for the huge increase in enrollment arising from COVID-19

Antiquated information technology systems have caused backlogs and breakdowns in processing unemployment claims, and Health Affairs reports the same could soon be true for Medicaid, due to rising enrollment. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is incentivizing states to upgrade their systems, as many are still using old and outdated technology. 

5. Child support reform can help parents better support their children during and after the COVID-19 recession 

Due to lost employment or income during COVID-19, many parents may fall behind on child support payments. ChildTrends recommends that states make it easier to modify child support orders, limit punitive measures (such as placing liens on bank accounts or seizing tax refunds), and provide a full pass-through of child support payments received.