The 2016 North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Board of Directors held their initial meeting of the new year last Saturday, Jan. 9, at the NCMS Center for Leadership in Medicine in Raleigh. This was the first gathering since the 2015 Annual Meeting in October and adoption of a new governance system, which shifts policymaking authority from a House of Delegates to the NCMS Board.
This inaugural Board meeting offered an immediate example of how the new system will work. Matthew Olin, MD, an orthopedic surgeon from Greensboro, and current president of the North Carolina Orthopedic Association (NCOA), along with Richard Bruch, MD, former NCMS President and former NCOA President, appeared before the Board to request the NCMS adopt a policy on certificate of need (CON) reform.
Over the years, this issue has proved highly controversial among various specialty groups that make up the NCMS membership. CON reform legislation has been introduced in the past several legislative sessions, and came close to passing in this most recent session. The issue will most likely be debated by legislators again this year, according to Steve Keene, NCMS General Counsel and Deputy Executive Vice President for Government Affairs and Health Policy.
Drs. Olin and Bruch encouraged the Board to take action now with the possibility that the ‘house of medicine’ would be able to present a united front on this issue in the upcoming short session. Dr. Olin said that the current CON system is not fair and needs to be opened up to assist in achieving the ‘triple aim’– achieving better care for patients, better health for communities and lower costs — as the health care system moves toward value-based medicine.
Board members questioned the guests and then debated the issue for nearly half an hour. Earlier in the meeting they had heard from North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Rick Brajer, [see related article in this issue of the Bulletin] who told Board members that he foresees the state gradually moving away from CON. Several Board members agreed that CON no longer serves a purpose, and could be detrimental to achieving the ‘triple aim’ mentioned by Dr. Olin.
After a lively discussion the Board authorized NCMS CEO Robert Seligson to retain an outside and objective source to do a study on the ramifications of any changes to the CON law. The Board also is seeking comment from the larger NCMS membership. Please weigh in with your thoughts on this issue by posting a comment at the end of this article. Your comments and the results of the research study will be brought to an NCMS Task Force made up of representatives from all concerned specialties within the membership to make a definitive recommendation to the Board on a policy change.
Under the new governance structure, if you have a policy issue you would like the Board to consider, please complete the online form. In addition, the Board of Directors will be holding their meetings throughout the state this year to make them more accessible to the entire membership. The next meeting will be held in Wilmington in March. An evening ‘Mix and Mingle’ event will be held before the meeting on Friday, March 18. This is an opportunity to speak with Board members in a casual setting. Watch the Bulletin and your email for more details on this eastern NC meeting.