Current Bulletin

  • What the STOP Act Means to You

    On June 29, Gov. Roy Cooper signed the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act of 2017 into law. Aimed at curtailing the opioid abuse epidemic in the state, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) supported this legislation. Read the law and a comprehensive history of its passage on the NCMS 2017 Legislative Blog.

    This new legislation may impact how you prescribe opioids. The North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) sent a letter to all licensees the day after the STOP Act became law outlining its provisions, which include:

    • Limits on the number of days of opioids that may lawfully be prescribed upon initial consultation to patients with acute pain (no more than a five day supply) and following surgeries (no more than a seven day supply)
    • A requirement that prescribers review the patient’s 12-month history with the NC Controlled Substances Reporting System (NCCSRS), before issuing an initial prescription for a Schedule II or Schedule III opioid or narcotic, and subsequent reviews every three months as long as the patient continues on the drug. NCMB offers a streamlined NCCSRS registration process on its website. Use this visual guide to find it
    • Faster reporting of prescriptions to NCCSRS by pharmacies that dispense controlled substances (within one day versus the former requirement of three days), as well as financial penalties for pharmacies that fail to correct missing or incomplete information.

    Read all the NCMB’s communications about this new law.

  • Changes to Health Information Exchange Act; NC HealthConnex Updates

    NC HealthConnexThe North Carolina General Assembly made adjustments to the Health Information Exchange Act in its state budget based on input from the NC Health Information Exchange Authority or NC HealthConnex, the NC Department of Health and Human Services and stakeholder groups like the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) whose members are impacted by the law.

    Changes to the HIE Act include:

    • Providers of Medicaid and state-funded services shall connect by June 1, 2019. This is an extension from the original connection deadline of Feb. 1, 2018.
    • Allows for limited extensions of time for providers to establish connectivity to the HIE network if such providers can “demonstrate ongoing good faith effort to take necessary steps to establish such connectivity.”
    • For providers seeking medical information on patients with emergency medical conditions, the new law repeals their authority to “break the glass” and view HIE data for patients who had opted out of the HIE. When a patient opts out of the HIE, their data is still sent to the HIE, but is blocked from being shared with any of the HIE’s authorized users even in situations where generally HIPAA permits sharing without specific authorization (e.g., treatment, payment and health care operations).
    • Provides funding in the amount of $3 million non-recurring funds (one year) to upgrade the existing HIE environment and $9 million annual recurring funds (two years) for staffing, operations, analytics environment deliverables, and technical integrations.

    Read about all the legislative changes as well as other NC HealthConnex updates.

  • All-Star Line Up for M3 Conference – Don’t Miss It!

    You won’t want to miss the stellar line-up of speakers at this year’s M3 Conference, Sept. 14-16 at the Raleigh Crabtree Marriott. Join your North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) and North Carolina Medical Group Management Association (NCMGMA) colleagues for a rich exchange of innovative and inspiring ideas and a professionally rejuvenating experience. Click here for a preliminary schedule of events.

    Session highlights include:

    Dr. Mandy CohenThe vision for health care in North Carolina….

    Mandy Cohen, MD, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, will answer the question: ‘How Did We Get Here and Where Are We Going? The Secretary’s Vision for NC.’


    Effective leadership….

    tracy spearsTracy L. Spears, co-founder of The Exceptional Leaders Lab and co-author of the best-selling book, “What Exceptional Leaders Know”. A national business consultant for over 25 years, she specializes in developing leaders, inspiring teamwork and enhancing inter-office communications. She will reveal ‘The THREADS That Connect Exceptional Teams.’


    How to plan for and accommodate change…

    Will-Latham-photo-300x199Will Latham, president of Latham Consulting Group, a firm that helps medical group physicians make decisions, resolve conflict, and move forward, will show you the strategic way forward in your practice and how to successfully manage change.



    US health care policy under the Trump administration…

    laszewskiRobert L. Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, LLC (HPSA), a policy and marketplace consulting firm specializing in assisting its clients through the current health policy and market changes, will address ‘US Health Care Policy in a New Administration, A New Era.’


    Social determinants and their impact on health care delivery and cost

    rebecca onieA MacArthur “Genius” awardee, Rebecca Onie, JD, is widely recognized for creating the definitive framework for addressing social needs – like heat, food and housing – as part of health care delivery. The CEO of Health Leads, Onie will speak on ‘Tackling Social Determinants – The Key to Bending the Cost Curve.’



    Panel discussions on Saturday will feature experts to help physicians and your team understand the opportunities and challenges of practicing in alternate payment models. Specific topics include: understanding the roles of primary care and specialists; the role of data in population health; incorporating community health partners and using your alternate payment model for MACRA success.

    Of course, our annual awards will be presented, our new president and officers will be sworn in and there will be plenty of time for socializing and networking.

    A big thank you to Medical Mutual Insurance Company for once again being our Premier Sponsor.

    Registration for this not-to-be-missed event will open soon. Watch your email for registration details.

  • Congratulations to Health Care Leadership and Management Graduates

    HCLM class of 2017

    HCLM class of 2017

    On June 25, NCMS’ Health Care Leadership and Management (HCLM) program produced their first official class of graduates. The day included final project presentations by members of the class.

    The HCLM program is one track of the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Foundation’s Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership’s professional development curriculum. Participants focus on how to be better health care leaders, while also learning about the financial and business side of the health care system. Participants apply online and, if selected, begin the program in the fall. [Applications for the upcoming 2018 session are being accepted now. Learn more and apply here.]

    Over the course of nine months, participants meet a total of four times receiving business skill and leadership training and working on group projects that aim to stretch individuals’ thinking and generate new and innovative ideas to apply to real life situations in participants’ practices.

    Before the program began, there was an increasing need to understand the economic side of health care to help physicians and physicians’ assistants adjust should they decide to take on a more administrative role, said Kristina Natt och Dag, executive director of the Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership.

    HCLM strives to meet that demand. Upon completion, participants have a stronger understanding of finance and business, along with increased confidence in their leadership skills.

    Deb Bhowmick, MD a neurosurgeon at UNC-Chapel Hill, was a member of this year’s graduating class. He said the program helped him understand health economics and showed him how to better deal with change in the new and rapidly evolving health care structure.

    “It certainly doesn’t turn you into a business manager,” he said. “But it gives you some skills that you could use for administrative roles in medicine, where most of us have no training at all.”

  • SHIIP – NC’s Medicare Assistance Program – Fears Federal Funding Cuts

    The Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), the division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance that assists people with Medicare, is concerned that the federal budget currently being debated in Congress will eliminate all federal funding for SHIIP making the future of this helpful program uncertain.  They ask that you contact your US Representatives and Senators and encourage them to continue funding for this program.

    SHIIP provides education and assistance to North Carolinians in three ways:

    • by operating a nationwide toll-free consumer information phone line Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
    • by training volunteers to counsel Medicare beneficiaries within their community about Medicare, Medicare Part D, Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage and long-term care insurance, and
    • by creating educational materials for consumers’ use including the Medicare Supplement Comparison Guide and featuring a Medicare Supplement Premium Comparison Database on their web site (

    The program was founded in 1986 by the Department of Insurance in direct response to the growing concerns about health insurance for the more than one million Medicare beneficiaries in North Carolina. Numerous insurance companies sell Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage, long-term care insurance and other medical insurance products to North Carolinians. Because there are so many companies, and because the Medicare system is so complex, SHIIP was founded to provide people who are eligible for Medicare with an objective information service.

    State officials are concerned that if federal funding for the program is eliminated SHIIP will not be able to continue. In 2016, NCSHIIP counseled more than 105,000 North Carolina Medicare beneficiaries and helped them save $44.3 million. The volunteer counselors also helped more than 29,000 beneficiaries with incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

    With Medicare open enrollment beginning Oct. 15, if your patients need help navigating their Medicare options, they can contact SHIIP at the toll-free consumer number, 1-855-408-1212, by visiting the SHIIP Web site,, or e-mailing Trained SHIIP Volunteer Counselors are available in all 100 counties of North Carolina. If the problem is too complex to handle over the phone, patients may contact their local SHIIP Coordinator for a one-on-one appointment.

    The Extra Help Program – or Low-Income Subsidy Program (LIS) – also helps qualified Medicare beneficiaries pay for their Medicare prescription drug program costs, such as premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.

  • NCIOM Publishes Snapshot of NC Uninsured

    NCIOM headerThe North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) recently released its snapshot of the uninsured in North Carolina. This report uses data from the American Community Survey to describe the uninsured in North Carolina and the changes in the rates of uninsured since 2013. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians gained health insurance coverage between 2013 and 2015. During that time, North Carolina has seen a 4.7 percentage point decline in the number of uninsured under 65 or 387,000 fewer uninsured North Carolinians to a record low of 13.3 percent. Review the brief.
  • New Web Page for Clinicians Working in Small, Rural or Underserved Areas

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) We recently launched a new section on the Quality Payment Program on dedicated to doctors and other clinicians working in small or rural practices as well as those treating patients in underserved areas. This page serves as a single point of reference to help prepare for, and actively participate in, the Quality Payment Program, especially, for those participating under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) track. You can also review the flexibilities to help reduce the participation and reporting burden on small practices for 2017.

    The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) also has comprehensive resources available to help you navigate the Quality Payment Program, part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) legislation. Check out our MACRA webpage.

  • New CDC Director Named

    brenda fitzgerald cdcOn July 7, US Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, MD, named Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, as the 17th Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

    Dr. Fitzgerald has been the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and state health officer for the past six years. She is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, who has practiced medicine for three decades. As Georgia DPH Commissioner, Dr. Fitzgerald oversaw various state public health programs and directed the state’s 18 public health districts and 159 county health departments. Prior to that, Dr. Fitzgerald held numerous leadership positions, serving on the board and as president of the Georgia OB-GYN Society and as a health care policy advisor with House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Paul Coverdell. She has served as a Senior Fellow and Chairman of the Board for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

    Dr. Fitzgerald holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from Georgia State University and a Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine. She completed post-graduate training at the Emory-Grady Hospitals in Atlanta and held an assistant clinical professorship at Emory Medical Center. As a Major in the U.S. Air Force, Dr. Fitzgerald served at the Wurtsmith Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) Base in Michigan and at the Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.

  • NCMS Foundation Lunch and Learn Webinar: 2017 Cybersecurity Update

    The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Foundation and the NC Medical Group Management Association (NCMGMA) offer the next in a series of Lunch and Learn webinars on Tuesday, July 18 from noon to 1 p.m.

    Security Architect Rob Hoisington will provide a cybersecurity update so you can assess how your practice is doing. He will address how much security is enough or too much? What controls do you need? Ultimately, the organizations that have the most success at right-sizing their security environments are those that employ a systematic approach. Hoisington, of Sirius Computer Solutions, will present one such approach – the NIST Cybersecurity Framework – in a way you may not have seen before. Learn more and register.

  • Community Response to the Opioid Epidemic – SEACOEM Symposium Aug. 12-13

    The President of the Southeastern Atlantic College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (SEACOEM) Scott Spillmann, MD, MPH, would like to cordially invite all North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) members to the 2017 SEACOEM Scientific Symposium in Concord on Aug. 12-13. The conference will be of particular value to those who care for first responders in their community, and for anyone interested in the opioid epidemic.

    Day one of the symposium will be devoted to public safety medicine.  Day two will feature a half-day session on Workplace Approaches to the Opioid Epidemic.  On Saturday night the second annual SEACOEM Hootenanny will take place and organizers ask you to bring any musical instrument you care to. See the website for program details and registration information. [Note: the PGA will be in town, so make your hotel reservations ASAP.] Contact Dr. Spillmann at with questions.