Under the new governance structure, which establishes the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Board of Directors as the policymaking entity, NCMS members may bring their policy issues and concerns directly to the Board. At the Society’s Annual Business Meeting on Saturday, Sept. 17, in Greensboro, the Board opened the floor for an exchange of ideas with the membership.
Kent Anderson, MD, an urgent care internist from Wilson, asked the board about Medicaid expansion.
“We’re on record as supporting expansion. It needs to be a good, deliberate process,” NCMS President Docia Hickey, MD, said. “We’ve worked very strongly with the legislature on this issue.” She acknowledged the current political climate at the General Assembly is not favorable to expansion. “After the election, things may loosen up a little.”
John Woodyear, MD, a family medicine doctor in Troy, urged the Board to begin an initiative encouraging physicians to train on how to treat opioid addiction and obtain the waiver to administer Buprenorphine to help counteract the opioid abuse epidemic in our state. The agreed to consider this in the coming year.
Randall Williams, MD, the North Carolina Director of Public Health, thanked the board for its work helping to pass legislation establishing the statewide standing order for opioid antagonist Naloxone. “This [law] is an exemplar of your leadership,” Randall said. “Next year the number one initiative is infant mortality reduction.”
Gerri Mattson, MD, a pediatrician in Durham, commended the Board for taking on the issue of physician wellness and resilience. She also encouraged them to recognize the social determinants that affect so many North Carolina families, noting that 25 percent of children in the state live in poverty.
Others had questions about the new process and how NCMS members throughout the state are able to engage with the NCMS leadership.
Beyond the Board meetings that are scheduled throughout the state in the coming year [see tentative schedule here], the Board urged members to get to know and call on their region representatives on the Board if they have questions, concerns or issues to raise. Also, consider inviting NCMS representatives to your county medical society meetings.
“If you’re in my region, please invite me to your meetings and I’ll come,” Board Region 3 Representative Arthur Apolinario, MD, said. Region 3 covers the south central portion of the state. “I want to hear your ideas. That’s what is important because I want to represent you.”
Staff also is available to attend meetings to discuss policy and advocacy issues.
“We are more than happy to go to any county society meeting around the state anytime with a little notice. Be sure to encourage people to be there,” said NCMS CEO Robert Seligson. “We are geared up and ready to roll on establishing good policy. We encourage every member to send in issues to us. You can call me at the NCMS when you can’t get a hold of a Board member. There are many mechanisms in place so your medical society makes good policy in this state.”