NCMS Morning Rounds 3-12-20

Welcome to Thursday and your

NCMS Morning Rounds.

  March 12, 2020

Keeping up with Covid-19: Latest Info for NC Health Care Professionals

Remember: The most timely and credible information is available at the

NC Department of Health and Human Services Covid-19 website  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Today, March 12, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., NC Medicaid is hosting a webcast with Shannon Dowler, MD, NC Medicaid Chief Medical Officer, outlining Medicaid policies and codes related to Covid-19. NC Medicaid wants to ensure beneficiaries continue to receive Medicaid and NC Health Choice services with no interruptions or delays due to the Covid-19 outbreak. This includes making it easier for you to deliver Medicaid services by temporarily modifying certain policies and designating appropriate billing codes. These changes will be effective tomorrow, Friday, March 13.

Register for today’s webcast. NOTE: You must use a computer with audio/speakers or a smart phone, and be connected to the internet to hear the presentation. There will be time for questions and answers. The information presented also will be provided in a Special Medicaid Bulletin and through NCTracks on Friday.


Reminder: Tomorrow, Friday, March 13 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and NC AHEC are offering the first in what will be weekly forums for health care providers to offer updates, clarification and guidance on the Covid-19 virus. Subject area experts will answer questions submitted by Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. (submit questions for future forums at The forums will be recorded and made available soon after they are completed.

You can access the forum webinar through your computer at Or you can dial-in for audio-only, by calling 1-646-558-8656 and entering the conference ID: 705979628#


The NCDHHS issued updated guidance for physicians and PAs and others on screening and testing for the Covid-19 virus. As outlined in this memo, patients who meet the criteria and are being tested are considered Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and should receive instructions on how to isolate themselves.

Here is the updated guidance, which includes links to all the necessary documents associated with screening, protective equipment for you and your employees, testing and instructions for PUI.


At the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services on Tuesday, NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, updated committee members on the state’s response to Covid-19, including updates to the Medicaid policies. View the slides from her presentation. [Read more about this committee meeting in this edition of your NCMS Morning Rounds.]

To help ensure access to care as practices throughout the state are grappling with how to contain the spread of Covid-19, NC Medicaid will allow practices to bill for defined telehealth services. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC also announced last week that they will cover telehealth services at parity with in-person provider visits starting March 6 and continuing for 30 days when the insurer will reassess the situation and decide whether to continue this policy.


As if coping with the coronavirus wasn’t enough, the AMA recently warned members that a malicious website pretending to be the live map for Covid-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins University is circulating on the internet waiting for unwitting internet users to visit the website (corona-virus-map[dot]com). Visiting the website infects the user with the AZORult trojan, an information stealing program which can exfiltrate a variety of sensitive data. It is likely being spread via infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements and social engineering. Furthermore, anyone searching the internet for a Coronavirus map could unwittingly navigate to this malicious website. Learn more.

Be sure to use caution when opening emails from outside organizations. Learn more about how to identify email phishing and ransomware here.


One NCMS member reached out with a question about the status of development of an anti-viral drug to treat Covid-19 pending development of a vaccine for the virus. Here is a recent news release from the National Institutes of health on development of an anti-viral drug.

Continue to watch your NCMS Morning Rounds for daily Covid-19 updates on information important to you and your practice.

Legislative Committee Reviews Wide Variety of Health Topics

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committees for Health and Human Services and for Medicaid met on Tuesday and heard updates on the state’s response to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) budget and other topics. See the agendas and handouts for the HHS and Medicaid oversight committees.

NC DHHS officials outlined the impact the continuing resolution budget is having on technology projects, Medicaid transformation and group homes. While NCDHHS officials pushed committee members to resolve the stalemate with Governor Cooper and pass a budget, legislators pushed back saying Governor Cooper vetoed the budget that included funding for the department.

NCDHHS’ report on Medicaid enrollment shows it holding steady over the last 18+ months, reflecting the strong economy and low unemployment. With the current economic uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is possible that Medicaid enrollment may increase if unemployment rises and people struggle to make ends meet and get health care for their children and themselves. This would put more pressure on the state budget.

The Committee also heard from the NC Institute of Medicine’s President and CEO Adam Zolotor, MD, DrPH, about infant mortality and NCDHHS’ Ben Money, MPH, spoke about telehealth, including temporary Medicaid policy modifications to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Read a complete summary with links to committee handouts on our Legislative blog.

NCMS Leadership Programs Now Accepting Applications

If you are looking to gain insight into your unique leadership skills and how to apply them to improve our health care system and the health of your patients, the NCMS Foundation’s Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership offers a variety of programs to fit your needs. The Leadership College and Health Care Leadership and Management tracks are now accepting applications for the class of 2021.

Learn more and apply today!

In the News

Why Flattening the Curve May Be the World’s Best Bet To Slow the Coronavirus, STAT, 3-11-20

Learning Opportunity

‘Quitting Tobacco Too: For People with Substance Use Disorders,’ is an online self-paced training course for those who treat substance use disorders. Its goal is to help them integrate smoking cessation into their usual practice when possible or to refer current smokers to other sources of support for quitting. Learn more and register.


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