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In this week’s Friday Five, Maximus is reading about government IT modernization efforts, inadequate insurance coverage, state efforts to launch their own insurance exchanges, and new guidance on interoperability. 

1. Critical Update: GSA’s Centers of Excellence program evolves

Over the past three years, the Centers of Excellence (COE) program has evolved and expanded. This podcast from NextGov explores lessons learned and changes made along the way. These include a shift from one agency working with one center per phase to an agency working with multiple centers for a shorter, project-specific timeframe. The COE is designed to identify needs and find vendors to help agencies fill those needs as part of an effort to speed up IT modernization.

2. DHS gets mixed reviews on IT modernization 

A recent audit of the Department of Homeland Security’s IT systems pinpointed areas that could use improvement and provided recommendations for how to do so. According to FCW, the audit results indicate Homeland Security’s cloud migration and data center consolidation efforts could use updating, DHS concurred with recommendations and has been taking steps toward project completion.

3. Survey finds nearly half of Americans having insurance coverage troubles 

More than 40% of working-age adults lacked stable health insurance in the first six months of 2020, Fierce Healthcare reports. This number includes individuals who were uninsured, those who had a gap in coverage, or who had such high out-of-pocket costs or deductibles that they could not afford care. People of color, low-income individuals, and those who worked for small businesses were the most likely to have unstable insurance. Uninsured numbers were impacted COVID-19, and many believe they could rise as the pandemic continues.

4. ‘Pennie’- pinching states take over Obamacare exchanges from feds  

Six states plan to shift from using the federal Healthcare.gov site to creating state-run insurance exchanges in the next few years. According to Kaiser Health News, they will join 12 states and Washington, D.C. in running their own exchanges. States believe they can run their own exchanges more efficiently and for a lower cost, while also having more flexibility to respond to resident or insurer needs.

5. CMS issues Medicaid guidance for states on implementing interoperability rule 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released guidance to help states meet a new requirement making it easier for residents to access their health data via smartphone. According to Fierce Healthcare, the regulation (goes into effect January 1, but not enforced until July 1, 2021) will require major changes for both payers and hospitals. The guidance recommends that states leverage existing investments in health information exchanges.