Welcome to your first NCMS Morning Rounds of 2021!

Jan. 5, 2021

Review of Current COVID-19 Vaccine Plan for NC

Based on new federal recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) updated and simplified the vaccine prioritization plan at the end of last month.

For the latest information, tune in tonight, Tuesday, Jan. 5, from 6 to 7 p.m. when State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer Betsey Tilson, MD, MPH, offers an update on the vaccine distribution plan. Dr. Tilson also will respond to questions during the session. Click here to join the meeting via Zoom. Or to join by phone call (646) 558-8656 and use webinar ID 131 899 801.

North Carolina’s updated phases include:
• Current Phase – Phase 1a: Health care workers fighting COVID-19 and Long-Term Care staff and residents.
• Phase 1b (to begin in early January): Adults 75 years or older and frontline essential workers.
• Phase 2: Adults at high risk for exposure and at increased risk of severe illness.
• Phase 3: Students.
• Phase 4: Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination.

Currently there is not enough vaccine for everyone to be vaccinated at the same time, so NCDHHS will open the next phase of vaccinations (1b) in groups, starting only with persons above the age of 75 in order to best manage vaccine dose availability. To see all the groups for Phases 1b and Phase 2, please review this Infographic of Vaccine Phases.

Watch your NCMS Morning Rounds for information on how North Carolinians over age 75 will access vaccinations beginning in early January. For those who engage this population, please consider sharing NCDHHS’ resources below in both English and Spanish to answer patients’ questions.

All vaccine providers are expected to ensure the vaccine is equitably administered within each group. Longstanding and continuing racial and ethnic injustices in our health care system contribute to lack of trust in vaccines, and NCDHHS is focused on building trust with historically marginalized populations. The Department is partnering with trusted leaders and organizations to provide accurate information about the vaccine.

More detailed information is available at yourspotyourshot.nc.gov and in the resources below:
• Infographic of Vaccine Phases (English / Spanish)
• Deeper Dive: Phase 1a (English / Spanish)
• Deeper Dive: Phase 1b (English / Spanish Coming)

Here are additional vaccine resources to share with your staff and patients.
• Flyer on Vaccines (English / Spanish)
• Presentation COVID-Vaccination 101 (English / Spanish)
• Frequently Asked Questions (English / Spanish)

NCDHHS’ Vaccines page is continually updated with more information and resources as they are available at yourspotyourshot.nc.gov. The page is also available in Spanish at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vacuna.

Unsure Where to Refer a Patient for Substance Use Disorder Treatment?

Check out TreatmentATLAS.org, a free, not-for-profit, non-provider-funded website to help people find quality substance use disorder treatment in North Carolina, both for themselves and their loved ones.

Visit the webpage to take a brief evidence-based assessment to understand the best treatment type for your patients. Search for and compare treatment facilities across North Carolina, using trustworthy information on treatment quality. Learn more about what to look for in SUD treatment facilities. Read reviews from actual patients and loved ones, and more.

North Carolina is one of six states launching the ATLAS platform as part of a pilot project.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Caroline Davidson ([email protected]) who leads the ATLAS implementation in North Carolina.

Updates for Health Information Exchange Providers

As part of Session Law 2019-23, certain providers are required to connect to and participate in North Carolina’s Health Information Exchange (HIE) Network known as NC HealthConnex.

Based upon the provider’s taxonomy codes on file, some providers may voluntarily connect with the HIE while others are eligible for a Hardship Extension.

Beginning Jan. 31, 2021, providers who wish to request a Hardship Extension will utilize a new process available through the NCTracks Secure Provider Portal.

For more information about NC HealthConnex connectivity requirements, see the Medicaid Bulletin titled Legislation Gives Certain Providers More Time to Connect to NC HealthConnex. For detailed information about the processes available through the NCTracks Secure Provider Portal, see the corresponding job aid located on the User Guides and Fact Sheets page under Provider Record Maintenance.

In the News

Medical Professionals Take Initiative in COVID-19 Vaccine Persuasion, The Charlotte Post, 1-3-21

Learning Opportunity

Join the NCMS Foundation and the NC Medical Group Management Association for our first Lunch & Learn webinar of 2021. This month’s webinar will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 19 from noon to 1 p.m. and will be a Health Policy Update: COVID-19 & Its Impacts.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on physician practices in 2020, and these impacts are likely to continue through at least the first half of 2021. This presentation will review the events of the past nine months to help practices understand how the situation has evolved over time and what the evolving circumstances may mean for the coming year.

Presented by Sam Cohen, JD, Senior Vice President for Health Policy at Curi, key topics will include:
• What did we know about COVID-19 when the pandemic began and how has our knowledge changed?
• Current status of the pandemic.
• COVID-19’s impact on independent physician practices in North Carolina.
• Actions taken by the Federal and State governments to help practices handle the challenges they have faced.

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!