NCMS Morning Rounds 2-13-20

Enjoy your Thursday

NCMS Morning Rounds.

Feb. 13, 2020

NCMS Advocates in DC

NCMS President Palmer Edwards, MD, DFAPA and NCMS Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Associate General Counsel Chip Baggett, JD, were in Washington, DC this week for the AMA’s Advocacy Conference and to visit legislators on Capitol Hill to discuss surprise billing legislation among other key issues. [We hope you’ve been following Dr. Edwards’ on Twitter as he recounts his meetings with the movers and shakers in the nation’s capital. His Twitter handle is @NCMSPresident.]

Speakers at the conference included US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar II, JD, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seem Verma. Among legislators speaking were Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the lead Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, which is a crucial committee weighing surprise billing legislation. Review the full conference agenda.

Three House committees currently are working on new draft legislation to address surprise billing – Ways and Means, Education and Labor and Energy and Commerce. While some of the new proposals represent progress toward the NCMS’ position on surprise billing, none of them at this point fully adopt our stance adopted by the NCMS Board of Directors at their November 2019 meeting.

The NCMS Board’s surprise billing policy framework seeks a solution that addresses the issue more proactively than the proposals now being considered by Congress. The Board would like legislation that shifts the focus from reacting to the surprise bill after the fact, to preventing it in the first place. This could be accomplished by identifying the areas where surprise billing is most likely to occur and negotiating charges before they are billed, perhaps by requiring them to be arbitrated in advance of services being rendered.

With this philosophy in mind, the Board agreed to the following policy framework statement: NCMS supports protecting patients from unanticipated bills due to non-network medical services through up-front, equitable financial arrangements.
Board members agreed this would help eliminate surprise bills and preserve the physician-patient relationship firmly in keeping with the NCMS’ values and mission.

Learn more about the NCMS’ proactive approach to the issue.

In a letter to North Carolina’s Congressional delegation last month in anticipation of his Capitol Hill visits this week, Dr. Edwards wrote:

“You have undoubtedly heard the shared concerns from all members of the health care community about the significant and growing administrative burden in health service delivery,” he wrote. “Some of the proposed solutions to surprise billing will surely add to that burden by focusing the process for resolving disputes between payers and health professionals on individual claims. This would have medical groups engaging in dispute resolution repeatedly, often with the same payer for similar or identical services. We feel this dispute resolution approach would be better aimed at achieving an agreement between the payer and the provider, in advance of services being rendered, that will address all of the potential services the medical group may provide.”

This Healthcare Dive article offers some general insight into the proposals currently being debated.

UNC Seeks Input on Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Systems

Researchers from the UNC School of Public Health and UNC Injury Prevention Research Center are conducting a study to identify and prioritize points of intervention to ultimately help improve opioid use disorder treatment systems and patient outcomes in NC. We are looking to interview providers who treat, on average, about 10 persons with opioid use disorder at any given time about their experiences in providing treatment.

Understanding provider perspectives and experiences is critical to improving treatment systems in NC. If you would like to participate in the research study, please click here to schedule a time for the research team to reach out to you.

Alternatively, please feel free to email Becky Naumann, PhD, MSPH, Assistant Professor in UNC’s Department of Epidemiology at or call her at 919-843-3530 to set up a time to be interviewed. Your participation would take no more than 45 minutes and all interviews will be conducted by phone. As a thank you for your time, you will receive a $30 Amazon gift card. Your participation is completely voluntary, and you can withdraw at any time should you decide not to participate.

If you have any questions about the research study, feel free to reach out to the PI for this research project: Dr. Kristen Hassmiller Lich ( or 919-843-9932).

Additionally, if you have questions or concerns about your rights as a research subject as part of these activities, or if you would like to obtain information or offer input, you may contact the Institutional Review Board at 919-966-3113 or by email to (IRB study #17-3306).

Dr. Keever on the Radio!

NCMS Board member, Carolina Complete Health Network Chief Medical Officer and cardiologist Rachel Keever, MD, FACC, was on WCHL radio recently to raise listeners’ awareness during Heart Health month of the best ways to keep your heart healthy. The 10-minute interview was sponsored by the Durham Orange County Medical Society.

Listen now.

In the News

Trump Doesn’t Want the FDA to Regulate Tobacco, STAT, 2-10-20

Learning Opportunity

The Public Health Institute and the Center for Health Leadership and Practice is launching a national network to support organizations and individuals working on solutions to prevent drug addiction and overdose and enhance treatment. A live webcast on Feb. 27 at noon will offer more information about joining this network. Learn more and register.


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