NCMS Morning Rounds 7-7-21

Happy Wednesday! Enjoy your NCMS Morning Rounds.

July 7, 2021

HHS Announces Rule to Protect Consumers from Surprise Medical Bills

Only July 1, the Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Treasury, and the Office of Personnel Management, issued “Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part I,” an interim final rule that will restrict excessive out of pocket costs to consumers from surprise billing and balance billing. Surprise billing happens when people unknowingly get care from providers that are outside of their health plan’s network and can happen for both emergency and non-emergency care. Balance billing, when a provider charges a patient the remainder of what their insurance does not pay, is currently prohibited in both Medicare and Medicaid. This rule will extend similar protections to Americans insured through employer-sponsored and commercial health plans.

Read full release here.

Fact sheets on this interim final rule can be found here and here.

The interim final rule with comment period can be accessed here – PDF.

Fair Health NC Coalition – Tell Advocates to Take Action Today

Many North Carolina patients rely on copay assistance to help cover the out-of-pocket costs for the treatments they need to stay healthy. However, most health insurance companies are increasingly implementing copay accumulator adjustment programs – harmful programs that prevent patients from counting financial assistance received from other sources toward their annual out-of-pocket maximum—ultimately leaving patients with unbearably high medical bills and unable to afford their care.

North Carolina legislators are QUICKLY considering legislation (SB 257 Medication Cost Transparency Act) to improve access to health care for North Carolinians, and we have an opportunity to include an amendment protecting against copay accumulator adjustment programs. Please take action today to ask North Carolina legislators to support these efforts.

Fair Health NC has launched a letter campaign through Phone2Action, a digital email platform that makes it easy for advocates to quickly send letters and tweets to their representatives and other key lawmakers.

With just a few clicks, you can send an email urging North Carolina’s state senators to act – CLICK HERE! OR, simply text the word “copay” to the number 52886 and tap the response link to get started. The platform also allows you to send Tweets tagging your legislators.

Please share this information with your networks and urge advocates to email their legislators TODAY.

Letter of Support for Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian (EBCI) Smoke-Free Casinos

The NCMS, along with the  American Lung Association, North Carolina Alliance of Public Health Agencies, North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors, North Carolina Citizens for Public Health, North Carolina Public Health Association, North Carolina Society for Public Health Education and Tobacco 21, recently signed on to a letter written by the North Carolina Alliance for Health and addressed to the leadership of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian (EBCI) to ask for their support of Ordinance #471, which would keep tribal casinos smoke-free, protecting tribal citizens and visitors from the harms of secondhand commercial tobacco smoke.

In the News

Researchers Raise Concerns About Using Genetic Risk Scores To Pick ‘Healthier’ Embryos, STAT, 7-1-21

Learning Opportunity

VIRTUAL DOCTORS LOUNGE : Unrighting Your Reflexes: Lessons to Achieve Better Communication with Each Other and Our Patients, July 8, 2021 07:00 PM in Eastern Time

This community wellness conversation will be led by UNC’s Paul Roman Chelminski, MD, MPH, FACP (Professor of Medicine Program and Division Director UNC Physician Assistant Program).

Register here.


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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