NCMS Morning Rounds 3-1-21

Here is your first March 2021 NCMS Morning Rounds 

March 1, 2021

NCMS Legislative Update

Last week was another busy week at the NC General Assembly and this week promises to be hectic as the budgeting process ramps up. This is a legislative long session, meaning legislators will create and negotiate a new budget for the state. Watch your NCMS Morning Rounds and our weekly Political Pulse video for details as the budget process unfolds.

Our advocacy staff has drafted a sign on letter opposing HB 93 – Require Naloxone Scripts with Opioid Scripts, which contains a prescribing mandate. Many specialty and county societies have already signed on to the letter. If you’d like to know if your specialty or county society is among them, please reach out to NCMS Director of Legislative Relations Sue Ann Forrest, MPA at She can provide the letter and information on how to be included. This type of support is key to our successful advocacy.

If you interact with audiologists in your practice, we also are interested in your feedback on HB 72 – Audiology Modifications. Again, please reach out directly to Forrest at with any input you might have on this proposal.

The first telehealth bill of the session, HB 149 – Improving Access to Care Through Telehealth, was filed last week. With the pandemic, telehealth has become more important to many practices as they interact remotely with patients initially to mitigate risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus.

Finally, another proposal, SB 161 – NC Statewide Telesychiatry Program Funds, allocates $1 million to the Office of Rural Health in order to expand a Brody School of Medicine telepsychiatry program to five additional sites in the state. The NCMS supports this bill.

Follow the legislative action throughout the week by visiting our legislative blog regularly.

Gearing Up for Medicaid Transformation

The state will transition to Medicaid managed care as of July 1, 2021 and to help practices prepare for this change, Medicaid Transformation Provider Services and North Carolina AHEC are conducting a series of Virtual Office Hours for those who serve Medicaid beneficiaries beginning in March 2021. These sessions offer an interactive format to have your questions answered on a range of topics related to Medicaid Managed Care.

The first session will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, March 2 at 4 p.m. and the focus will be on the Medicaid Provider Directory. The presenter will be Christina Bunch, Associate Director of Provider Operations, NC Medicaid Transformation, NC Department of Health and Human Services. The webinar will be moderated by Chris Weathington, NC AHEC Practice Support. Register here.

Also, remember to join the NC Population Health Collaborative on March 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. when it will address ‘The Journey Towards Medicaid Managed Care: Get Your Go Bag Ready!’ This session will cover a variety of topics including issues around AMH and COVID-19 coverage policies. Learn more and register here.

CMS Holds Physicians Harmless from MIPS Penalties Due to COVID-19

Last week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will hold physicians harmless from up to 9 percent MIPS penalties due to the significant disruptions of the COVID-19 public health emergency on physician practices’ performance in 2020.

The Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Hardship Exception policy will be automatically applied to ALL MIPS eligible clinicians who do not submit any MIPS data for the 2020 performance period and avoid a 2022 payment penalty. CMS is also reopening the hardship exception application for group practices, virtual groups and alternative payment model entities who missed the previous 2020 deadline. The re-opened application deadline is March 31, 2021. Note, groups and eligible clinicians who submit data in at least two MIPS categories will override the hardship exception and be eligible to earn a bonus from the exceptional performance bonus pool or potentially be subject to a penalty.

Learn more about these updates to the Quality Payment Program here.

In the News

Beyond Declarative Advocacy: Moving Organized Medicine And Policy Makers From Position Statements To Anti-Racist Praxis, Health Affairs, 2-25-21

Learning Opportunity

REMINDER: Tune in tomorrow, Tuesday, March 2 from 6 to 7 p.m., for an update on new COVID-19 vaccines and the status of vaccine distribution from State Health Director Betsey Tilson, MD, MPH. During this webinar, Dr. Tilson and other leaders from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) will address vaccine allocation, provider enrollment, prioritization and the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS) as well as answer questions.

Connect at this Zoom link ( or dial in at (646) 558-8656 and use webinar ID 131 899 801.

If you have policies you’d like your NCMS Board of Directors to consider, please complete the Board input form here. Thanks for reading!


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