Friday Five: Government agencies are using blockchain effectively, but struggling to communicate in plain language

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October 26, 2018

In this week’s Friday Five, MAXIMUS is reading about changes to the insurance waiver process, opioid grant spending among states, Medicaid ballot initiatives, and recent reports on how government agencies are using blockchain effectively but communicating poorly with the public.

1. CMS hands states more powers for waiver process

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has changed the way it evaluates 1332 waivers. According to Modern Healthcare, state legislators will no longer have to approve waiver requests and states will be able to offer Affordable Care Act subsidies for short-term insurance plans. This has led to concerns that while the number of insured may not drop, many may have inadequate coverage.

2. AP analysis: ‘Obamacare’ shapes opioid grant spending

A recent Associated Press analysis found that states who expanded Medicaid spent opioid grant funding more slowly than states who had not expanded the program. Researchers say Medicaid covers the cost of addiction treatment for many poor patients, allowing expansion states to use the funding for enhanced services, while non-expansion states need it for basic care.

3. November elections bring high stakes for Medicaid

The midterm elections will have a major impact on Medicaid expansion efforts and work requirements. Roll Call reports multiple states have ballot initiatives addressing expansion, while in other states the governor elected or changes in state legislatures will likely determine Medicaid’s future.

4. Report offers options for effectively using blockchain in government

People are split on whether blockchain lives up to the hype, according to this article from NextGov. But a recent report provided eight examples of how governments are using blockchain to enhance their work, including managing assets, contracts, supply chains, and more. Its authors also argue that blockchain’s success will depend largely on intelligent use and system design.

5. Report: Agencies still don't write in understandable language

Only four federal agencies received grades of A minus or above in a recent report card issued by the Center for Plain Language, while three agencies nearly failed and the average grade dropped to a C. NextGov reports that agencies were graded on both writing quality and compliance with the Plain Writing Act, and that employee turnover may be one cause of lower grades.