HHS Legislative Oversight Committee Public Health Update

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services met Wednesday, February 25.

Comments from the Secretary:

Cardinal Update:

Secretary Many Cohen, MD provided an update on Cardinal. She stated that there has been a $3.8 million from administrative allocations to be redirected into community investment activities for this fiscal year.

Flu Update:

Secretary Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s flu season. She stated that the state peaked earlier than usual this flu season. To date, there have been 200 flu deaths in the state, and most of those deaths were individuals over the age of 65. She reported that the vaccine is 36% effective, but the vaccination can still reduce the duration of symptoms.

Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth) asked if getting a second vaccination was necessary. Secretary Cohen states that the advice from the CDC was one vaccination.

Local Health Department Health Issues:


Dennis Joyner, President of the NC Association Of Local Health Directors presented on an overview of County Health Departments. There are 51 departments the provide adult primary care and 72 departments that provide primary care to children. Dennis reported that these departments provided care to 500,000 patients in 2015. 47% of this patient population was uninsured.

Communicable Disease Response:

Dr. John Morrow, MD, Pitt County Health Director discussed that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of communicable disease cases over the past 10 years. He discussed that the shift to the electronic reporting system has helped public health officials be more aware of specific diseases that are arising.

Budget Pressures:

Lisa Macon Harrison, Granvile-Vance Health Director informed the committee that around 3% of federal dollars go to public health. She stated that according to Trust for America’s Health (2016) study, NC ranks #44 our of the 50 states in public health per capita state spending. This reflects a $14.30 investment per person.

DHHS Jail Oversight:

Steve Lewis from the DHHS Division of Health Service Regulation provided an overview on the number of jail deaths over the past 3 years. In 2017, there were 38 deaths,  which included 7 suicides, 20 natural death, and 11 other deaths. They have proposed 33 rules for re-adoption, and most of these rules deal with jail operations, design, and construction.

Study Inmate Health Information Exchange Software:

Joe Prater, Deputy Secretary of Administration for the Dept. of Public Safety presented on the different typed of medical care provided in the prison system. These services include psychiatry, behavioral health, substance abuse, dental, pharmaceutical, and primary care. There has been a 60% increase over the last 10 years of inmates diagnosed with a mental illness. There has been a 65% increase over the last 10 years of inmates diagnosed with mental illness.

He concluded that DPS and DHHS seek to work collaboratively in order to connect to the NC HealthConnex system.

*The Child Welfare Update was pushed to the next committee meeting due to time constraints*



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