Get ready for a new week of NCMS Morning Rounds.

Jan. 25, 2021

NC Medicaid Extends Rate Increase and Policy Changes

Last Friday, due to the extension of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, NC Medicaid announced it would extend the temporary provider rate increases and clinical coverage policies through March 31, 2021.

In a special Medicaid bulletin, NC Medicaid states that officials have determined it is “both necessary and feasible to continue all temporary rate increases related to COVID-19 through March 31, 2021. As we approach that date, NC Medicaid will reassess both needs and available funding for further extension of temporary rate increases. Note that the legislated 5 percent rate increases authorized under SL 2020-4 cannot be extended beyond March 31, 2021 unless there is additional legislation amending the end date set in SL 2020-4.”

Find more detail on the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) fee schedule webpage here.

NC Medicaid also stated that many of the Clinical Policy Provisions, such as those related to telehealth enacted to support COVID-19 response, which do not require new federal authorities, are in the process of becoming permanent policy. The Division of Health Benefits (DHB) is seeking federal authority where appropriate. For permanent policy changes to the Medicaid program, DHB will post changes publicly. All stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback.

For more information and details here is the link to the special Medicaid Bulletin.

Summary of Biden’s Immediate Actions to Address Pandemic

The day after his inauguration, President Biden began implementation of his national strategy to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Review the entire strategy here.

The AMA has compiled a summary of initial actions through the following Executive Orders signed on Jan. 21. Access the actual at each link below:
1. Establishing the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats: Establishes a Pandemic Testing board to identify issues and assist in implementation of testing solutions; directs actions to address the cost of COVID-19 testing; Establishes a public health workforce plan
2. Protecting Worker Health and Safety: Address potential changes within OSHA and at state level to better protect workers from COVID-19 and ensure workers previously not identified but at risk have adequate protections
3. Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers: Identifies actions to assist in the safe reopening of schools and early childhood education
4. Ensuring Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery: Establishes a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force; Identified actions to ensure equitable response, including those to address vaccine hesitancy
5. Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain: Requires an immediate inventory of response supplies and identification of areas of need; directs use of Defense Production Act to address shortages
6. Ensuring a data-driven response to COVID-19 and Future High-Consequence Public Health Threats: Enhances COVID-19 data collection and seeks to strengthen public health infrastructure
7. Improving and Expanding Access for COVID-19 Care and Treatments: Mandates development of plans to support research that assist in advancing COVID-19 therapies; seeks to improve capacity to address COVID-19 in a variety of settings
8. Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel: Immediately requires masks on domestic forms of transportation (airplanes, trains, buses, etc.) and requires negative COVID-19 tests, quarantine or combination thereof for entry into the United States from travel abroad

Memoranda issued on January 21 include:
1. Directive to Extend Federal Support to Governor’s Use of National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 and to Increase Reimbursement and other Assistance Provided to States: Provides full federal funding for National Guard response to COVID-19; Provides fully-funded FEMA assistance to state, local, and tribal efforts to reopen and operate schools, child care facilities, healthcare systems, shelters, transit systems and others.

NCMS Legislative Update

Legislators will be back in Raleigh on Wednesday, Jan. 27 to begin the new session in earnest. Be sure to watch your NCMS Morning Rounds as well as our NCMS legislative blog for details on all proposed legislation as bills begin to be drafted and filed.

Now is also a great time to reach out with a welcome message to your legislators, simply welcoming them back to session and introducing yourself as a physician or PA constituent. This is a nice way to also offer your insight and expertise as a clinician when questions may arise when they are considering legislation that could impact your practice.

Thank you to everyone who completed our survey on the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine. The information you provided was helpful to our advocacy team as they fielded questions from legislators about the vaccination effort. The survey revealed that all respondents have been or will be vaccinated and are recommending your patients do the same as the vaccine becomes more widely available.

Last week, NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH announced that 500,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the state thus far.

In the News

Social Distancing Has Crushed Many Common Viruses. Is A Dangerous Resurgence Coming? The Advisory Board Forum, 1-20-21

Learning Opportunity

The 2021 Playbook: What The Future Holds For Primary Care, Jan. 28 from 1 to 3 p.m.
As payers, policymakers, and new market entrants focus on primary care innovation, the industry is facing a rising tension between the market’s demands on primary care and the industry’s ability to deliver against those expectations. In December, Advisory Board convened a small group of senior strategy executives at a live virtual summit focused on primary care transformation. Join us for this webinar to get Advisory Board’s perspective on the future of primary care, and to hear key takeaways from the live virtual event.

Learn more and 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!