Current Bulletin

  • Deadline Nearing for NCMS Award Nominations

    Each year the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) recognizes a physician and a layperson who have made significant contributions to health care. Do you know someone deserving of such an award?

    Now is the time to nominate an outstanding colleague for the E. Harvey Estes, Jr., MD, Physician Community Service Award or the John Huske Anderson Award.  These awards will be presented at the LEAD Health Care Conference on Oct. 19 in Raleigh.

    The E. Harvey Estes, Jr. MD, Physician Community Service Award recognizes the many and varied services rendered by physicians to their communities apart from their practice of medicine.  The recipient must be a physician licensed in North Carolina; must not have received the award previously; and must have compiled an outstanding record of community service, which, apart from his or her specific identification as a physician, reflects well on the medical profession.

    Nominations must be received by Sept. 17, 2018. You may send the completed nomination form by scanning it and emailing it to Evan Simmons,, faxing it to her attention at 919-833-2023 or mailing it to her at P.O. Box 27167, Raleigh, NC 27611. If you have questions, please contact Evan via email or by calling 919-833-3836 x147. Download the form here.

    The John Huske Anderson Award is given annually to a layperson whose contributions have had a positive impact on the medical profession and public health. The award honors Mr. Anderson’s service to medicine and the Society, having served as NCMS legal counsel from 1937 until his retirement in 1983. Nominations must be made by an NCMS member.

    The deadline for submissions is Sept. 17, 2018. You may send the completed nomination form by scanning it and emailing it to Evan Simmons,, faxing it to her attention at 919-833-2023 or mailing it to her attention at P.O. Box 27167, Raleigh, NC 27611. If you have questions, please contact Evan via email or by calling 919-833-3836 x147. Download the nomination form here.

  • Two New Resources for You and Your Patients

    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) recently introduced a SmartShopper tool for self-funded health plans. This allows patients to receive money back if they select a specific provider for a particular procedure. Learn more about this new way to incentivize patients to be savvy health care consumers and for employers to see lower costs.

    BCBSNC also recently partnered with Landmark Health to deliver in-home care for complex/chronic condition Medicare Advantage patients in the Triad, Charlotte and Triangle regions.  Landmark promises to work with doctors and specialists to serve patients in their home for wellness visits, urgent care or post-hospital care without traveling to an office at no additional cost to the Medicare Advantage patient.  Learn more.

  • NC House Health Committee Discusses Dental Health and Lyme Disease

    The House Health Committee met last Wednesday, Aug. 22, to discuss Community Dental Health Coordinators and provide an overview of Lyme disease.

    The North Carolina Dental Society and Alamance Community College (ACC) discussed their Community Dental Health Coordinator program, in which ACC has partnered with the American Dental Association to increase access to dental care in rural communities.  This is the first such program in the state and offers oral screenings, x-rays, sealants and fluoride treatments. The ACC’s curriculum includes dental advocacy, outreach, finance, cultural competence and ethical issues.

    Bill Rawls, MD, who wrote the book “Unlocking Lyme,” offered the committee an overview of the history, symptoms and diagnosis process of Lyme’s disease. Statistics show the Lyme disease is more concentrated in the northeastern part of the country possibly due to more physicians checking for the disease in those areas, Rawls said. He stated that testing has been under-performed over the last 20 years. He argued that this could be because the symptoms of the disease are mild and that a rash does not always occur.

    The House Health Committee will meet again in September. Be sure to follow all legislative activity on our Legislative Blog for real time updates from the General Assembly.

  • Be Prepared for Medicaid Managed Care in NC – Learn About AMH

    The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has developed the Advanced Medical Home (AMH) program as the primary vehicle for delivering care management as the state transitions to Medicaid managed care. Learn more at the AMH Homepage

    The AMH program builds on the Carolina ACCESS program by requiring prepaid health plans (PHPs) to delegate certain care management functions to AMHs at the local level. In order to provide these care management functions, AMHs may work with their affiliated health care system or make an arrangement with a clinically integrated network, care management vendor or other population health entity. To ensure that beneficiaries across the state are receiving high quality care management, DHHS has developed standards for AMHs and will be responsible for initially certifying that practices meet AMH criteria.

    Leading up to the launch of the AMH program, DHHS will be developing a number of webinars, trainings, and other resources covering a wide range of topics related to the AMH program. This will include eight webinar modules running through January 2019 and six regional in-person trainings from late August through early October. We encourage you and your office staff to attend as many of these trainings as possible.  Full Training Schedule (we encourage you to check this frequently for any updates).

  • Organized Medicine Strenuously Objects to E&M Coding Proposal

    Many health care organizations recently sent strongly worded letters to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) calling on the administrator Seema Verma to reconsider the proposal to collapse the Evaluation and Management (E & M) codes into one.

    “We believe this would damage significantly access to care for Medicare beneficiaries, especially those with chronic and/or complex medical problems,” stated the letter from the Coalition of State Medical Societies, a group of 10 medical societies including the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS). Read the full letter.

    The NCMS also signed on to the AMA’s letter on this topic to CMS Administrator Verma. The AMA urged CMS to use the workgroup of physicians and other health professionals it created to analyze the E&M coding and payment issues and come up with concrete solutions and a mutually agreeable policy to simplify documentation while ensuring no unintended consequences. Read the AMA’s letter.

    Here’s the link to an article from Healthcare Dive with an overview of the wide-ranging opposition to this move by CMS.

  • NC Division of Public Health Issues Updated Info On Ebola Virus Disease

    In light of recent outbreaks of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the North Carolina Division of Public Health is providing updated information to North Carolina clinicians and laboratories regarding identification and management of suspected EVD cases.

    The most recent outbreak in the DRC was identified on July 28 in North Kivu Province and reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on August 1. As of August 12, 2018, a total of 57 EVD cases, including 41 deaths, had been reported. This outbreak is unrelated to a recent outbreak in the Equateur Province of DRC, which was declared over on July 24, 2018.

    WHO has determined that the public health risk from the current outbreak is high at the national and regional levels and low globally. WHO has noted several factors that may help control spread of this outbreak, including enhanced surveillance and testing and investigational vaccine use. For more information, see and, as well as

  • In the News

  • Learning Opportunities

    Throughout the fall, NC DHHS is offering training to help you understand the state’s Advanced Medical Home model as the primary vehicle for delivering local care management at the transition to Medicaid managed care takes place. Learn more about the upcoming statewide webinars as well as the regional training forums and register. [See article in this issue of the Bulletin as well.]


    MAHEC in conjunction with the NCMS Foundation’s Project OBOT is offering several upcoming trainings designed to increase health care teams’ comfort with OBOT (Office-Based Opioid Treatment) as well as provide waiver training.

    Recovery Within Reach: Building Team Expertise in Office Based Opioid Treatment, Sept. 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the NCMS headquarters in Raleigh. Get the details and register.

    Providers Clinical Support System: Buprenorphine Office-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders (the “Half and Half” Course), Sept. 5, from 4:30-9 p.m. at the NCMS headquarters in Raleigh. Get the details and register.


    The NC Institute of Medicine’s Annual Meeting will focus on Team Based Care on Sept. 7, at the McKimmon Center, Raleigh. Learn more.


    The Sixth World Congress on Ultrasound in Medical Education: New Sounds/New Horizons will be held Sept. 13-16, at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem. Learn more and register.


    MAHEC is offering two courses to help treat patients with opioid use disorders: “Providers’ Clinical Support System: Buprenorphine Office-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders, The “Half and Half” Course,” and “Recovery Within Reach: Building Team Expertise in Office-Based Opioid Treatment (OBOT).” The next session will be held Sept. 28. Learn more and register.


    Registration is now open for NC Healthcare Information and Communication Alliance’s (NCHICA) 24th Annual Conference, Oct. 8-9 at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, NC. The conference provides an opportunity to learn about the latest developments and best practices in health care IT and network with your peers. The theme of this year’s conference is “Start Your Engines! The Race to Digital Health,” and the agenda includes four plenary sessions and 24 breakout sessions. Learn more and register.


    The 30th Annual Fall Foliage Cancer Conference will be held Oct. 12-13 at the Omni Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, NCLearn more and register.


    The National Academy of Medicine will host a scientific symposium as part of its 48th Annual Meeting at the historic National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, DC on Oct. 15. This year’s symposium will examine how the biology of cancers creates challenges for therapeutics, explore insights about the possible prevention of certain cancers, and discuss how to include policy in the fight against the disease. Check out the meeting highlights and register today!


    First annual Raab Multidisciplinary Cancer Symposium: Melanoma – Surgery, Immunotherapy and Beyond, on Oct. 26, at the Eastern Area Health Education Center, 2600 W. Arlington Blvd., Greenville, NC. The purpose of this symposium is to provide comprehensive and state of the art evidence-based data from each discipline involved in the care of a specific disease site. Featuring the insight of nationally recognized leaders from all disciplines combined with regional experts in the field, the focus of this year’s conference is malignant melanoma. Learn more and register.


    Registration is open for The Southeast Institute for Innovation in Palliative and Supportive Care at the University of Alabama will hold the Forging the Future of Palliative Care Summit 2018 on Nov. 1-2, in Birmingham, AL. Learn more and register.


    Join current and future academic medicine leaders in Austin, TX Nov. 2-6, for the Association of American Medical Colleges Learn Serve Lead 2018. The conference brings together diverse stakeholders—medical school deans, hospital CEOs, university and hospital administrators, faculty physicians, scientists, researchers, physician residents and students—to advance new ideas by working and learning together. Learn more and register.


    The Governor’s Institute inaugural fall conference Addiction Medicine Essentials will be held Nov. 16-17 at the Archie K. Davis Conference Center in RTP/Durham. The conference will cover a wide range of essential addiction medicine topics including AM 101, Pharmacotherapy, Pain & SUDs, Medical and Psychiatric Co-Morbidities and more! Up to 11.25 hours of CME pending. Learn more and register.


    NCTracks has Computer-Based Training (CBT) courses on a variety of topics available to providers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Anyone who is a registered user with NCID access to the NCTracks secure Provider Portal can access and take a self-paced course. A list of courses available can be found here and under Quick Links on the NCTracks Provider Training page of the public Provider Portal.


    MAHEC, working with the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, The Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse and Project Lazarus: A Project of CCNC, is offering A Guide to Rational Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain, an online education course. The course is designed for all prescribing health care practitioners who are interested in an overview of the rational prescribing approaches for persons with chronic pain disorders. It will fulfill the North Carolina Medical Board’s requirement of at least one hour of continuing education designed specifically to address prescribing practices for chronic pain management. The course cost is $15 for the first 6 months. Offers 3 hours of AAFP, AMA/AAFP Equivalency, and CDE;


    Save-the-Date for the Governor’s Institute’s 10th annual spring conference Addiction Medicine 2019 to be held in Asheville, NC on March 21-23. when we will take a deeper dive into all things addiction medicine!




  • NC DHHS Takes Next Step in NC Medicaid Transformation

    Mandy K. Cohen, MD, MPH – Secretary, NC DHHS

    Last week the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) issued its much anticipated request for proposal (RFP) outlining the requirements for managed care organizations seeking a state contract to serve North Carolina’s Medicaid beneficiaries. Read the RFP.

    This is the next step in a process that began in 2015 with passage of legislation moving the state’s Medicaid program to managed care. Many organizations, including Carolina Complete Health, a partnership between the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS), the NC Community Health Center Association and Centene Corporation, are expected to submit proposals to the state by the Oct. 12, 2018 deadline. An evaluation committee made up of state employees with expertise in managed care will evaluate the proposals and award four statewide contracts for pre-paid health plans (PHP) in February 2019.  The new managed care system will be phased in regionally beginning in November 2019.

    During a conference call with health care providers on Aug. 9, the day the RFP was issued, NC DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, outlined several key points and answered questions, including that:

    • This RFP, the largest procurement in the department’s history, is the result of much input from the health care community, including more than 1,000 submitted comments on the transition to managed care. [The NCMS has worked closely with NCDHHS since 2015 to help protect members’ interests throughout the process.]
    • Each PHP will be subject to rigorous oversight including ensuring adequate networks and timely payments to providers.
    • The draft rate book, which may be reviewed here, is set by NC DHHS and ensures 100 percent of the current Medicaid fee-for-service rates.
    • Credentialing will be centralized by the state. It is expected that practices will contract with multiple PHPs and participate in multiple networks but physicians and PAs will not have to go through the credentialing process with each PHP they contract with.
    • There will be one pharmacy formulary for the state.

    To learn more about the scope of services each PHP must offer as well as the credentialing process and the draft rate book for the capitated payments for patients visit the state’s Medicaid Transformation webpage.

    As a physician or PA who would like to continue to see Medicaid patients, now is the time to familiarize yourself with what is being asked of the contract contenders in the RFP. The various managed care plans vying for one of the contracts currently are seeking physicians and PAs to join their networks, and Dr. Cohen encouraged practices to have ongoing discussions with each of these organizations.

    For a helpful overview of the state’s move to managed care read NCMS’ Vice President of Legal & Regulatory Affairs and Associate General Counsel, Conor Brockett’s summary of the process thus far.

    Throughout the fall, NC DHHS also is offering training to help you understand the state’s Advanced Medical Home model as the primary vehicle for delivering local care management at the transition to Medicaid managed care takes place. Learn more about the upcoming statewide webinars as well as the regional training forums and register.

  • The LEAD Health Care Conference Offers 10+ Hours of CME — Registration is NOW OPEN!

    Join us October 18-19 at the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley for two days of learning, networking and fun on the town, plus a gala event to celebrate our NCMS LEADers — physicians and PAs making a difference in health care and our communities. Plus, the conference has been approved for 10.25 hours of AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.

    Again this year we will feature the best and brightest — our Leadership College scholars will speak on a variety of timely topics throughout the conference. Modeled on the quick and insightful TEDTalks, you won’t want to miss our MEDTalks. Watch the video if you need further convincing.

    Review the agenda, speakers and fun planned.

    Take advantage of early bird savings and REGISTER TODAY.