Dr. Mandy CohenThe North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has a non-profit advisory body made up of a diverse group of physicians and dentists who make medical policy recommendations to the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA).  The North Carolina Physicians Advisory Group’s (NC PAG) mission is to use their knowledge as practicing physicians and dentists to advise NC DHHS and DMA on ways to improve the health of the state’s vulnerable populations by expanding access to quality, cost-effective health care services.

NC DHHS Secretary Cohen’s Priorities

The NC PAG Board of Directors met last week with NC DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD at the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Center for Leadership in Medicine in Raleigh.  Secretary Cohen described her three primary areas of focus – the opioid crisis, implementing the Medicaid reform legislation and addressing early childhood issues from birth to age 8.
The opioid abuse epidemic touches every aspect of DHHS’ work, and Secretary Cohen said she is committed to doing whatever is possible within the Department’s purview to stop the devastating effects of opioid abuse in the state.
“This is a complex issue that needs a complex solution,” she said.

Make Your Voice Heard On Medicaid Reform

On Medicaid, Secretary Cohen is seeking feedback on how best to implement the reform legislation that moves the state to Medicaid managed care over the next several years. DHHS would like to hear your ideas this month at public comment sessions to be held throughout the state. Review the schedule for the hearing closest to you.
Secretary Cohen is particularly interested in ideas on how to integrate physical and behavioral health as well as examples of how other states have successfully – or not so successfully — made the transition to Medicaid managed care.
She also asked the PAG to provide specific, concrete examples of “pain points” or hassles physicians encounter as they practice, particularly with the Medicaid program. Secretary Cohen, who has practiced as a primary care physician, told the group she understands physicians want efficiency and control of their time more than anything.
The NCMS also will convey your ‘pain points’ to DHHS on your behalf. Contact Belinda McKoy in our Solution Center, 919-833-3836 x142. She will make sure DHHS receives your observations. Also, keep the NCMS Solution Center in mind for anytime you have a question or practice issue to resolve.
Going forward the Secretary couldn’t describe exactly how the PAG’s role might evolve as the state moves to managed care.
“It is still the responsibility of the state to oversee the Medicaid program; to see that the program runs well,” she said. “There will always be a role and a need for a group like this.”
Learn more about the NC PAG.