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Friday Five: Federal agencies receive lowest average score for customer satisfaction

In this week’s Friday Five, MAXIMUS is reading about potential legislation to address healthcare costs, how Medicaid expansion could help with opioid addiction, challenges to implement community health programs to tackle social determinants of health, and the federal government’s low customer satisfaction score.

1. The Health 202: Senators are pushing forward on measures to lower healthcare costs

The Senate has multiple proposals intended to address high healthcare costs. According to the Washington Post, these include ending the practice of surprise billing, lowering prescription drug costs, capping out of pocket costs for Medicare recipients, and more. It’s still unclear at this point what legislation, if any, will pass. Policy changes would affect consumers and the broader healthcare industry.

2. Verma: CMS seeks less healthcare regulation, more competition

Seema Verma, administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, recently spoke at the American Medical Association (AMA) annual meeting. This AMA blog recaps her speech, which focused on the Patients over Paperwork initiative, to simplify and reform payments, and electronic health records. Verma also stated that allowing more flexibility and free-market competition would improve care and support innovation.

3. Cooper pitches Medicaid expansion as weapon in opioids battle

North Carolina has made progress in addressing the opioid epidemic, with a drop in both number of prescriptions and emergency department visits due to misuse in the past couple of years. WRAL reports that Gov. Roy Cooper wants to focus on improving access to substance abuse treatment and argues that Medicaid expansion will help. More than half of individuals hospitalized for addiction are uninsured, and rural areas in the state may not even have treatment programs available.

4. Moving beyond social determinants of health to community health

There is rising consensus among payers, physicians, and patients that addressing social determinants of health can influence patient wellness. As Patient Engagement HIT reports, there is less of a consensus around how to implement community programs that do so. Health plans don’t typically have a formal process to build out these programs or be reimbursed for them, but need to assess how they can have the biggest impact on high-risk, high-costs populations.

5. Federal agencies rank dead last in Forrester Customer Experience Index

The Forrester US Customer Experience Index ranking 16 industries released earlier this week. According to NextGov, the federal government received an average score of 59%, the lowest average score recorded, and a comparable score to the past two years. Areas that scored particularly poorly included USAJobs, Heathcare.gov, the IRS, and Education Department while the National Parks Service, Postal Service, Tricare, Medicare, and Veterans Affairs all ranked above average.