Current Bulletin

  • Snapshot Survey Results Boost NCMS Presentation to Legislative Committee

    NCMS Senior VP and Associate General Counsel Chip Baggett testifies before legislative committee on health care access in rural areas of the state.

    North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Associate General Counsel Chip Baggett told the legislature’s Committee on Access to Health Care in Rural North Carolina on Monday that the solution to access issues requires a “multi-faceted approach.” Policy initiatives to improve health care access in rural parts of the state include making the practice environment more enticing to clinicians by guarding against costly administrative mandates; stable reimbursements to ensure a revenue stream; encouraging telemedicine; and economic development to make communities more appealing for practitioners and their families to live and work.

    Watch video of Chip Baggett’s testimony at right or on YouTube.

    In preparation for Baggett’s appearance before the committee, the NCMS polled its membership through our monthly Snapshot Survey on why physicians and physician assistants chose to practice in a rural or underserved area of the state. The survey showed the vast majority of rural practice respondents have an affinity for a rural lifestyle and prefer a small practice setting.

    The survey showed the vast majority of rural practice respondents have an affinity for a rural lifestyle and prefer a small practice setting. A fair percentage (23 percent) also returned to the rural community because it is where they grew up. Altruistic motives figured prominently as well, with 27 percent saying they practice in an underserved area because it’s the right thing to do. Financial incentives, including educational loan repayment, was the least compelling reason to practice in a rural area, according to the survey results.

    On Monday, the legislative committee also heard from representatives from Campbell University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine, the University of North Carolina’s Sheps Center for Health Services Research, the state’s Office of Rural Health and the NC Rural Center. The committee will meet up to three more times before making a recommendation to the General Assembly this spring.

    Committee member Rep. Greg Murphy, MD, (R-Pitt), the legislature’s only physician, commented: “Truth be told, this is not just a health care issue, it’s an economic development issue.”

     
  • NCMS Steps Up with Help for Clinicians Serving Rural Areas

    Because Congress has not yet re-authorized funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), some clinicians who agreed to work in underserved areas in exchange for educational loan repayment through the Corps have not received their loan repayment checks. To help ensure these physicians, PAs, nurse practitioners and other clinicians can continue serving their patients, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Foundation is stepping up to fill this financial gap.

    The NCMS’ Vice President for Rural Health Systems Innovation, Franklin Walker, MBA, currently is reviewing five applications requesting funds to provide gap funding for NHSC recipients who are not receiving funds. The help would be for one year or until NHSC funding is renewed. Walker oversees the NCMS Foundation’s longstanding Community Practitioner Program, which also offers educational loan repayment for health care professionals who practice in underserved areas. Helping those who are part of the NHSC is on top of the regular funding for the CPP participants.

    The NCMS Foundation’s contributions were mentioned in a recent North Carolina Health Care News article, which stated that currently there are 237 people in North Carolina receiving loan repayment from the NHSC. More than 100 of those people work in community health centers across the state.

    Funding for the NHSC was extended through March thanks to Congress’ continuing resolution passed in December, but some of the NHSC participants in North Carolina did not receive their checks in November.

    “Our mission is to improve access to care in our underserved communities. So, when we saw this unfortunate funding situation with the National Health Service Corps, we felt obligated to help these clinicians so they can continue the important work they do in their communities,” Walker said. “Of course, our first commitment is to our CPP participants, but however we can help the Service Corps folks, we will try to do so.”

    Your charitable contributions to the NCMS Foundation fund programs like CPP and to expand access to quality health care to patients in rural and underserved areas. Learn more about our NCMS Foundation and how you can help.

     
  • Complete Your NCTracks Application Before Jan. 28

    Please be aware that NCTracks has issued a warning that all applications saved as a draft in the system will be deleted on Jan. 28 as they make changes to the Provider Portal Application. After this date enrollment, re-enrollment, manage change request and/or re-verification applications will include a new Affordable Care Act page. Read the NC Tracks notice.
     
  • STOP Act Prescribing Limits Now In Effect

    The Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act’s limits on initial prescriptions for acute and postsurgical pain now are in effect. Gov. Roy Cooper signed the STOP Act into law in June 2017. This Act seeks to address the opioid abuse epidemic in the state and contains measures that may change the way you prescribe controlled substances. Read what is contained in this law and the background on its passage by the General Assembly on the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) 2017 Legislative blog.

    The NCMS has been working with the North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) to assist in clarifying and implementing this new law. For instance, the NCMB has put forth a draft rule defining ‘consultation’ between a physician assistant and physician as it applies to opioid prescribing under the new law. The NCMB will accept public comments on the proposed rule through March 1, 2018, and will hold a hearing on the rule the same day. Send comments to Rules@ncmedboard.org.

    Review what the STOP Act may mean for you with the NCMB’s answers to commonly asked questions about the provisions of the STOP Act. The Board also has information for patients on the STOP Act’s prescribing limits in an easy to print and post format as well as CME resources on its website. See the Learning Opportunities section in this Bulletin for other educational offerings on opioid prescribing.

     
  • LEAD – Our Exciting and New NCMS Health Care Conference

    Join us for a reception at the Angus Barn! One of the social events at the LEAD Health Care Conference in October.

    Be sure to reserve Oct. 18-19 for the North Carolina Medical Society’s (NCMS) annual gathering. This year our LEAD – Leadership, Education, Advocacy, Discovery – Health Care Conference offers an innovative and  invigorating two days of learning and fun with your colleagues from throughout the state.

    On Thursday evening attendees will have the opportunity to dine at the landmark Angus Barn restaurant. This delicious and lively gathering will be held under the stars at the restaurant’s lovely lakeside Pavilion, and is one of many new and refreshing events we’re planning to help you connect – and reconnect — with your fellow NCMS members in a relaxed and beautiful setting.

    Watch your email, mail and this Bulletin for frequent updates on the LEAD Health Care Conference educational agenda, social events and the opening of registration. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Raleigh in October!

     
  • Influenza Alert from NC Division of Public Health

    The North Carolina Division of Public Health recently sent out an alert highlighting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest information about increased influenza A(H3N2) activity and its clinical implications as well as treatment recommendations.

    Throughout the US influenza activity has increased significantly in recent weeks with influenza A(H3N2) viruses predominating so far this season.  The state and the CDC wants to remind clinicians that influenza should be high on their list of possible diagnoses for ill patients. Read the alert.

    Other resources:

     

     
  • Join Us for the First 2018 NCMS Foundation Lunch and Learn Webinar

    Join us next Tuesday, Jan. 16, for the first North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Foundation Lunch and Learn Webinar of the new year. The topic is “Choosing Wisely: When Less is More for Your Patients: Addressing the Overuse of Tests & Procedures,” and will feature Yates Lennon, MD, MMM, FACOG.

    Choosing Wisely is an initiative of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and education material developed by Consumer Reports. The campaign helps health care providers and patients engage in conversations about the overuse of tests and procedures and supports efforts to help patients make smart and effective care choices.  Thanks to a grant from Choosing Wisely, the North Carolina Healthcare Quality Alliance partners with Duke Health, Cornerstone Health Care, the NCMS, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, and the North Carolina State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics to treat viral infections in adults along with several other tests or procedures. Dr. Lennon’s webinar includes an overview of Choosing Wisely, his local experience in the Cornerstone Health Care practice, results and findings and tips on implementing the program in a local practice.

    Learn more and register.

     
  • Renewing CHIP is Public’s Top Priority, Survey Reveals

    According to a recent survey by the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University, renewing funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is the public’s top priority for Congress.

    The Continuing Resolution, or stopgap spending bill, lawmakers passed before leaving Washington for the holidays provided $2.85 billion for CHIP and $550 million for community health centers through March 31, but a long-term, bipartisan deal remains elusive. Democrats and Republicans are divided over how to pay for the program. Last week Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall said the Senate CHIP bill would cost $800 million over 10 years. Prior to this, the CHIP bill needed to be offset by about $8 billion over 10 years. The total cost of CHIP over 10 years would be $48.4 billion, but decreases in Medicaid and health care marketplace spending would offset much of that amount, according to Hall. The budget negotiations are ongoing on Capitol Hill.

    Since 1997, when CHIP was enacted with bipartisan support, it has provided critical health care services to children in working families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private health insurance. In fact, CHIP has helped cut the number of low-income, uninsured children across the country by 80 percent, dramatically increasing access to health care.

    In North Carolina an estimated 256,000 children are covered by CHIP. Research by the Government Accountability Office shows that CHIP coverage has more comprehensive benefits and is more affordable than either marketplace or employer-sponsored coverage.

     
  • How Will the New Tax Law Affect Your Practice?

    In December, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Here are a few ways it may affect medical practices and medical students.

    • Professional-services pass-through business owners — such as physicians with a sole proprietorship, S corporation, partnership or limited liability corporation who earn more than $157,500 singly or $315,000 jointly — face a phase-out and cap of the 20-percent business income deduction. Independent contractors will benefit from the pass-through deduction but are responsible for the employer’s share of Medicare and Social Security taxes.
    • The cost of capital expenses can be written off 100 percent in five years starting in 2018.
    • The new corporate tax rate is a flat 21 percent, an improvement for all corporations earning more than $50,000 per year.
    • Graduate students will keep tuition waivers, and student loan debt interest will remain deductible regardless of whether a taxpayer itemizes deductions.
    • Federal and private student loan debt discharged due to death or disability will not be taxed from 2018 through 2025.

    For specific guidance about your practice or personal finances, we always recommend you contact your attorney, accountant, or financial planner. Check out the NCMS Marketplace for our preferred vendors who offer such services.

     
  • In a Quandary About Quality? Attend Clinical Quality University

    If you and your practice colleagues are not quite sure how to incorporate quality improvement initiatives into your day-to-day operations, the Leadership in Clinical Quality or Clinical Quality University program, part of the Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership, can help.

    This team-based course prepares and supports physicians and their staff, as they drive quality improvement projects from planning to implementation and then sustaining the project within their organization. CQ’U’ also leverages the physician leaders’ unique knowledge, skills and attitudes to build teams, enhance communication and develop core leadership competencies.

    Over the course of the program you and your colleagues will discover what works for your practice and how to sustain the changes while acquiring new skills that will serve both your practice and professional growth in tangible and intangible ways.

    Applications will be accepted until Feb. 15. Get all the details here and apply today. If you have questions, please contact Erin Grover, egrover@ncmedsoc.org.