NCMS President Dr. Cunningham at the NCDHHS public input session in Raleigh on May 16.
NCMS President Dr. Cunningham at the NCDHHS public input session in Raleigh on May 16.

The fourth and final North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ (NC DHHS) ‘listening session’ seeking input on reforming the state’s Medicaid program was held Tuesday evening, May 16, at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. As at the other three hearings held throughout the state beginning May 1 in Greensboro, approximately 150 people attended the two-hour session. NC DHHS will use the information they gather at these public hearings as it considers whether modifications are needed to the Section 1115 waiver application that was submitted a year ago to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) outlining how the state plans to move its Medicaid program to managed care.
NC DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD opened the meeting asking for input on seven areas including how to care for the whole person to improve physical and mental health and how to address the social determinants of health. NC DHHS will accept written comments through May 25. Get the details on submitting written remarks. Sec. Cohen encouraged commenters to be as specific as possible in their remarks.
Forty-two concerned citizens made brief, 2-minute remarks at the Raleigh hearing including North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) President Paul R.G. Cunningham, MD. Watch a video of Dr. Cunningham’s comments below.

Physicians representing the NC Academy of Family Physicians and the NC Pediatric Society also spoke as well as physicians from a variety of other specialties. Other speakers included concerned parents of disabled children or those with mental health issues; representatives of the NC Justice Center, the League of Women Voters, the American Heart Association, the LGBTQ community, local health departments and people living with HIV.
The overwhelming message from just about everyone who commented was to expand Medicaid to provide health care coverage to those who currently must delay or forego care for financial reasons leading to more serious health care problems that tax the system. Other common threads included better integration of physical and mental health and reducing the red tape and bureaucracy that health care providers must endure to serve Medicaid patients.