NCMS Morning Rounds 7-17-20

NCMS Legislative Cabinet Begins Planning for Next Session

On Wednesday evening the NCMS’ Legislative Cabinet, the group of NCMS members charged with formulating our advocacy agenda, reviewed the General Assembly’s actions during the recently concluded session and began the planning process for the next legislative session.

Chair Bill Ferrell, MD, asked Cabinet members what they thought should be the broad focus for NCMS advocacy going forward – what can the NCMS do to transform health care in the state that will address the needs of and engage NCMS members in these efforts?

Two overarching objectives that would encompass a variety of specific legislative proposals were mentioned – planning for the next pandemic and addressing health disparities.

Cabinet member and Board of Directors at-large member Eileen Raynor, MD, FACS, FAAP said that framing our legislative priorities around addressing racial health disparities would be an effective way to tie in public health, telehealth and access to insurance among other issues.

“It would be powerful,” she said.

Others thought planning and preparing for a future pandemic – which the group seemed to agree is inevitable – would resonate with NCMS members and legislators as we’re grappling with COVID-19.

The current pandemic has highlighted shortcomings in our health system generally, several members noted, and offers an opportunity to address them. Cabinet members mentioned building a robust telehealth system, a reserve of personal protective equipment (PPE) and access to reliable insurance coverage as issues that would put the state in a better position in any crisis and could also serve to generally improve the health of North Carolinians.

Several Cabinet members remarked on larger scale changes to the health care system that take into account access to care and non-clinical factors like food insecurity and housing that impact health.

“Right now health insurance coverage is limited to ‘what’s wrong with you,’” said Cynthia Gary, PA, MPH, who works in the Johnson County Health Department. She would like to see a priority placed on public health and prevention. She also advocated for de-stigmatizing and paying more attention to mental health. “Mental health exams should be a priority just like physical exams.”

With the NCMS’ mission focused on uniting, serving and representing our members to improve health in NC, Cabinet members seemed to agree that our advocacy efforts need to look beyond strictly health care related policies to achieve our mission.

Some in the meeting shared recent experiences in their own practices in which patients were foregoing COVID-19 testing because they couldn’t afford to miss work if the test came back positive.

“We need [to advocate for] no penalty testing and speedy test results,” said Cabinet member and region 4 Board of Directors representative Rachel Keever, MD, CPE, FACC. “People on the financial edge are not practicing good public health. We need to look at the social issues; incentivize business to address these issues. We need to go outside of health [related legislation] if health is our goal.”

The Cabinet’s discussion will be used as a starting point for developing the NCMS’ legislative agenda, which will continue to be refined over the coming weeks and months. The legislature will be back in Raleigh in September to consider allocation of federal COVID-19 appropriations. The regular legislative long session will begin in early 2021.

COVID-19 Provider Relief Updates and Reminders

Just a reminder that the deadline to apply for the $15 billion in relief funds allocated back in June for those physicians and PAs who accept Medicaid and CHIP patients is Monday, July 20.

To be eligible for this funding, you must not have received payments from the first $50 billion Provider Relief Fund General Distribution (this also includes physicians who were eligible for the General Distribution but ultimately rejected their payments), and either have directly billed the state Medicaid/CHIP programs for health care-related services between Jan. 1, 2018 and May 31, 2020.

The new distribution requires the use of a new portal and a new application. You will have to set up an Optum ID. Please see the Medicaid Distribution Instructions for additional details. This FAQ page has been updated with clarifying information on the general Relief Fund as well as this targeted allocation.

The Small Business Administration has also released updated FAQ guidance for PPP loan recipients. The updated guidance verifies that loans made on or after June 5 will have a five-year maturity date (compared to the two-year maturity date applicable to loans made prior to this date). These changes are pursuant to PPP loan requirement changes made effective through the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020.

Our national partner, the Physicians Advocacy Institute offers updated on federal programs and regulatory actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on their website. Access this information and resources here.

Deadline Nears for BCBSNC Accelerate to Value Program

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Rahul Rajkumar, MD, is encouraging independent primary care practices to explore and apply for BCBSNC’s Accelerate to Value Program.  The goal of the program is to assist independent primary care practices with financial stability and the steps to a value-based care model through participation in their Blue Premier ACO.  The deadline to apply is July 31, 2020.

BCBSNC will be hosting an informational webinar next Friday, July 24 from noon to 1 p.m. Learn more about the webinar and register here. Any questions or concerns about the program you would like to see addressed in the webinar can be sent to this email address, AcceleratePCP@bcbsnc.com.

 

In the News

COVID-19 Causes Unprecedented Drop in Physician Demand, Healthcare Dive, 7-15-20

Learning Opportunity

A live webinar, ‘Next Steps in Telehealth: Rebalancing or Reimagining Care,’ will be held Monday, July 20 from 12:15 to 1 p.m. For many practices, the goal is to rebalance schedules toward traditional in-person care while continuing virtual visits for patients who need or request these services.  But do we have an opportunity not to just reopen our doors but to redesign efficient, reliable care with a new digital front door?

Daniel Kuzmanovich a research director at the Advisory Board, a think tank in Washington DC, will discuss lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and to use those experiences to innovate and reimagine care. Learn more and register.

 

 
 

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