Current Bulletin

  • Legislature Back in Session Starting Today

    The NC General Assembly officially reconvenes today, but don’t expect any big legislative moves. Legislators will spend the first couple of weeks getting organized, selecting new leaders, committee members and deciding on the rules for this long session. The business of legislating will begin in earnest on Jan. 30.

    As a North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) member, you have several special opportunities to advocate for your profession and now is the time to consider how you want to be involved.

    • Sign up to come to Raleigh for our popular White Coat Wednesday, legislative briefing and opportunity to visit your representatives to educate them on issues of concern to you.
    • Volunteer for the honor of serving as Doctor of the Day. You will sit on the floor of the chamber with legislators and bring awareness to your profession. Call the Speaker of the House Office at 919-733-3451 to sign-up.
    • Be sure you’ve registered to receive our Action Alerts so you’ll be ready to click and send a message to key legislators when our government affairs team needs your input.
    • Watch your email for our weekly video updates during the session to know what is happening behind the scenes. This year the bowtie wearing star of our Bowtie Briefing video, NCMS’ Senior VP for Advocacy and Advancement Chip Baggett, JD, will be joined by our Assistant Director of Legislative Relations, Sue Ann Forrest, MPA, in a re-branded video — the NCMS Political Pulse.  Watch for the first episode this Friday.

    Our lobbying team and stars of the NCMS Political Pulse, Chip Baggett, JD, and Sue Ann Forrest, MPA:

     
  • Start the New Year with Some Good News

    The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), Division of Health Benefits recently announced that they have submitted a state plan amendment (SPA) to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate for Evaluation and Management procedure codes for primary care physicians (including Ob/Gyns), nurse practitioners and physician assistants, as defined in the ACA. Once accepted, the new rates would most likely be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2019. While the exact rates are not known, based on the public notice, which reveals the state’s budgeted share, the increase will bring the rates closer to Medicare. Currently, the reimbursement for E&M codes is about 75 percent of Medicare rates.

    “This change is recognition of how important primary care providers are to ensuring Medicaid beneficiaries receive the best care possible,” said NC DHHS Deputy Secretary Dave Richard. “As we are in the process of Medicaid transformation, we want to make sure we have a healthy primary care base.”

    Read the public notice.

     
  • NCMS Seeks to Promote Discussion on Maternal and Infant Health

    January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, which aims to increase awareness of how to help prevent birth defects for mothers-to-be. The theme this year is ‘Best For You. Best for Baby.’ Here are five tips and a comprehensive list of resources for you and your patients. 

    This toolkit not only includes information for mom, but also for dads and the role they play in helping to prevent birth defects.

    In 2019, the NCMS is planning to promote more robust discussion among our members and organizations that can impact maternal and infant health in the face of dismal state statistics for maternal and infant mortality rates. Watch your email for information in the coming weeks.

    The NC Department of Health and Human Services maintains data on maternal and infant mortality, which can be accessed here.

     
  • NC Population Health Collaborative Presentations Available Online

    Dr. Cole

    Attendees at the last NC Population Health Collaborative meeting of 2018, held Dec. 12, at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh, participated in a poverty simulation led by Alisahah J. Cole, MD, Chief Community Impact Officer for Atrium Health in Charlotte. The exercise graphically illustrated the agonizing choices citizens with limited financial resources often are forced to make – with health insurance often being at the bottom of their list of immediate priorities. The experience helped show how a tenuous financial situation can quickly spiral downward making it more and more difficult to recover.

    Dr. Cole made the point that while individuals do have control over their health behaviors, often socio-economic factors outside of their control negatively impact those behaviors.

    By the end of the simulation, participants’ comments reflected a better understanding of how social determinants like housing, transportation and access to healthy food choices – can severely undermine patients’ good health behavior intentions.

    While the poverty simulation couldn’t be videotaped, the other presentations, focused on the state’s Medicaid transformation progress, specifically helping practices become an Advanced Medical Home and addressing social determinants of health, were recorded and are available online. Access the information.

    Also, be sure to mark your calendars for the next Pop Health Collaborative on March 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. Watch for email updates when registration opens.

     
  • BCBSNC Helps Physicians Move to Value

    We’re pleased to pass along the news that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC (BCBSNC) is partnering with Aledade to offer independent primary care physicians and clinics assistance with technology and data analytics tools as part of being associated with an accountable care organization (ACO).

    The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) has been heavily involved in connecting practices with resources like the expertise offered by Aledade to help independent physicians make the move to value-based care.

    Read BCBSNC’s official announcement about its new partnership.

     
  • NCMS Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund Still Accepting Applications

    For those practices devastated by Hurricane Florence, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Foundation continues to accept applications for funds to help in your recovery. The first round of awards will likely be made in the next six weeks, although the application period is ongoing. More information about the fund, funding guidelines and application form are available here.

     
  • Have You Renewed Your NCMS Membership for 2019?

    If you haven’t renewed yet, your membership has officially lapsed. The good news is that there is a grace period before you stop receiving the Bulletin or our other communications. Renew today to ensure your benefits don’t stop.

    Renew now! 

     
  • Congratulations to Our New NCMS Foundation Trustees

    Three new NCMS Foundation Trustees will receive training this week in anticipation of their service on the Foundation’s Board. NCMS Immediate Past President John L. Reynolds, MD, and Blaine Hall, PA-C, will begin regular three-year terms on the board while NCMS President-elect Palmer Edwards, MD, DFAPA will take the seat reserved for that position.

    NCMS Foundation initiatives focus on ensuring access to health care; cultivating physician and PA leaders and addressing the opioid abuse epidemic. Learn more about all the Foundation does to improve health in North Carolina.

    Please consider making a charitable contribution to support the Foundation today. Donate here.

    Congratulations to our new trustees!

    Blaine Hall, PA-C  

    Dr. Edwards

    Dr. Reynolds

     
  • AMA President Calls for Easier Access to MAT

    Barbara L. McAneny, MD, president of the American Medical Association (AMA), yesterday called on state medical societies and physicians throughout the country to push payers to eliminate prior authorization for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD).

    “When it comes to treating patients with OUD, we know what works. MAT for opioid-use disorder saves lives. MAT helps people maintain recovery, saves money, reduces crime, and helps people regain their health and their lives,” Dr. McAneny writes. “Payers across the nation commonly impose prior-authorization requirements that patients and physicians must meet before medications are available for treatment. When patients seek help, it is unconscionable to make them wait days or weeks for the right treatment.”

    Read Dr. McAneny’s letter with links to model legislation.

    The NCMS Foundation’s Project OBOT is an innovative and coordinated approach to supporting patients on MAT. Read more about the unique Project OBOT initiative.

     
  • Government Shutdown: Who’s Hurting?

    Curious about how the federal government shutdown effects public health programs? This Kaiser Health News article offers an overview of the impact: How the Government Shutdown Affects Health Programs.