Hurricane Florence Safety Information and Updates for You and Your Patients

The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) continues to work with the authorities to address the needs of physicians and PAs throughout the state as well as the many people in their communities who may need medical help. Below is a compendium of useful information and resources for you and your patients. Please watch your email, social media feeds and our website for updates in the coming days.

Key Agencies for Up-to-Date Information

Since Hurricane Florence’s flood waters are still rising, this remains an evolving situation. Access comprehensive and up-to-date information about shelters, evacuations, road conditions and storm statistics on the NC Department of Public Safety’s Hurricane Florence website as well as information about caring for the most vulnerable at the NC Department of Health and Human Services site.

Visit the NCDHHS site to learn about how those impacted by the storm have greater flexibility in accessing Medicaid benefits like seeing an out of state doctor, getting prescriptions filled and getting hot food after the Hurricane.

Since behavioral and mental health needs may increase in the aftermath of the disaster, NCDHHS encourages those who need help to call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990. This national hotline is available 24-7 and dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

Things to keep in mind:

  • More injuries occur after the hurricane as people try to return home to clean up. This includes chain saw accidents and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Many patients who evacuated or lost their homes in the storm, may have forgotten their medications and supplies. NC Medicaid and commercial insurers have issued guidelines on how to help these patients, especially those with chronic conditions, fill their prescriptions. See below for how Medicaid and other insurers are helping those affected by the storm get their prescriptions and access needed medical care. Visit Rx Open to locate open pharmacies during a disaster like this.

Medicaid

The state’s Department of Medical Assistance has issued guidance for those Medicaid beneficiaries in the Lock-In program who may be required to evacuate or are in situations where their selected prescriber and/or pharmacy may be unavailable due to Hurricane Florence.

In these situations, a beneficiary may request their prescriptions to be written and/or dispensed by an available prescriber and/or pharmacy. NC Medicaid encourages your assistance in providing medical and pharmacy services to these beneficiaries when requested. Beneficiaries are required to contact the NCTracks Pharmacy Call Center at 1-866-246-8505 to request a change to another prescriber or pharmacy available to write and dispense their prescription.

Prescribers and pharmacists may contact the NCTracks Pharmacy Call Center at 1-866-246-8505 with any questions or for additional information about the NC Medicaid Lock-In Program.

These Waiver of Requirements of Section 1135 of the Social Security Act include information about:

  • The NC Department of Health and Human Services commitment to ensuring reimbursement for services rendered by qualified providers, in good faith, during this emergency response period.
  • Guidance regarding provider enrollment and reimbursement of providers not currently participating in NC Medicaid during this emergency response period.

Commercial Insurers

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina instituted emergency response procedures, which will stay in place for the duration of the state of emergency declared by Governor Roy Cooper.

  • BCBSNC contracted pharmacies will work to replace lost or destroyed prescriptions. Patients with questions should call the customer service number on the back of their member card.
  • Those impacted by the storm may delay premium payments for 30-days.
  • For medical practices, BCBSNC will provide a 30-day extension for submission of claims, filing of appeals and prior authorization requests.
  • Magellan Health is offering free counseling to members, who may call Magellan at 800-327-7451.
  • Learn more about what BCBSNC is doing to help.

United Healthcare

Cigna

  • Prescription refill requirements are waived through Oct. 10, 2018.
  • Cigna is allowing more flexibility for prior authorizations, pre-certifications and referrals for medical care, filing claims and, if in-network services or providers are not available due to the hurricane, out-of-network services will be covered at the in-network benefit level through Sept. 25.
  • Customers with questions on any aspect of their pharmacy or medical care, including employee assistance program benefits may call the number on their customer ID card or 1-800-244-6224. People who are not covered by Cigna and do not have employee assistance program benefits with Cigna can call 1-866-912-1687 toll-free for help.
  • Read about what else Cigna is doing to help during Hurricane Florence.

You Can Help

If you are willing and able to help care for those impacted by Hurricane Florence you can volunteer through the American Red Cross, which is coordinating volunteers in the hardest hit areas. The Red Cross will issue whatever necessary permission you need to enter the disaster area.

NOTE: If you currently hold an active NC license you do not need to obtain a disaster license to volunteer as a medical responder in NC. You do, however, need to complete this application to become enrolled as a temporary NC Medicaid provider during this disaster. 

Under no circumstances should medical professionals self-report to any disaster site to provide assistance, as this may interfere with official emergency response efforts.

The North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) has approved an emergency disaster licensing policy so clinicians outside of North Carolina who are not licensed in NC may obtain emergency authority to practice in the state.

There are two methods for obtaining emergency licensure.

  • First (and fastest) option: Clinicians who hold full, unrestricted licenses in their home states and are credentialed and in good standing with a hospital may report directly to a NC hospital to assist. The NC hospital will verify the clinician’s credentials and put them to work. This process is modeled on a system developed in Texas to quickly deploy volunteer medical responders who came in to the state in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
  • Second option: Clinicians who are not credentialed with a hospital in their home states may submit an application with NCMB for an emergency disaster license. This license authorizes a volunteer clinician to practice in NC for 30 days, or until the state of emergency is officially declared over. Physicians, physician assistants, licensed perfusionists and anesthesiologist assistants may apply. There is no fee.

Recovery Resources

The NC Emergency Management Disaster Recovery department has information on state and federal assistance available to help in recovery. Learn more.

Here is the link to the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) to keep abreast of federal help.

Medical Mutual Insurance Company has compiled a Disaster Planning Toolkit specifically geared to medical practices. Not only does it include how to prepare for a disaster, it also outlines what to do in the aftermath. Access the guide.

 

 

 
 

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