Welcome to another week and your

NCMS Morning Rounds.

Nov. 18, 2019

NCMS Legislative Update

Legislators were back in Raleigh last week to attend to several matters including redistricting, the state budget, Medicaid transformation funding and disaster relief for communities impacted by recent hurricanes, yet much remains unresolved. The General Assembly is now formally adjourned. One certainty — both the NC House and Senate will return Jan. 14.

Medicaid Transformation:

Last Friday, Nov. 15, marked several deadlines for the state’s transition to Medicaid managed care. NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, had previously stated this was when funding for the transformation needed to be in place. The General Assembly and Governor have not been able to agree on a budget that includes this money, so the funding for the transformation remains in limbo. This also was the date when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was to give its blessing to move ahead with the change. NCDHHS also gave physician practices until Nov. 15 to sign contracts with the pre-paid health plans (PHP) to be considered ‘in-network’ when auto-enrollment begins for those Medicaid patients who had not selected a health plan during the open enrollment period.

Whether the scheduled Feb. 1 launch of Medicaid managed care will happen remains uncertain. Regardless of whether the ‘go-live’ date is delayed, the NCMS encourages members to continue to contract with all five PHPs awarded Medicaid contracts with the state. This is the best means to safeguard your existing relationships with your Medicaid patients. It is going to require interaction with the new plans to determine how or if you will want to continue that relationship. Without that relationship, your patients may be directed somewhere else through the auto-assignment process.

Congressional Redistricting:

Legislators’ primary focus last week was on redrawing Congressional maps. With the Dec. 2 opening of the filing period for 2020 races looming, they appeared eager to get this redistricting work done, although no formal timeline has been laid out. By the end of the week, the House had passed their version of the new Congressional district maps and sent it to the Senate, which accepted the new maps.

Disaster relief legislation was passed by both the House and Senate and sent to the Governor for his signature.

Watch your NCMS Morning Rounds for updates on Medicaid transformation timing, redistricting and whether the Governor signs the disaster relief legislation into law.

CDC: Use Declines But Nearly 1 in 5 People Still Use Tobacco

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) most recent report on tobacco use in the United States shows that adult cigarette smoking has declined by approximately two-thirds since 1965, what the CDC terms “a major public health success.” However, last year nearly 20 percent of people reported using a tobacco product. Cigarettes are the most commonly used form of tobacco. During 2017–2018, e-cigarette and smokeless tobacco product use prevalence increased, according to the report. Read the report.

Since cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, the CDC report concludes that “continued surveillance is critical to informing tobacco control efforts at the national, state and local levels. Coordinated efforts and regulation of all tobacco products are needed to reduce tobacco-related disease and death in the United States.”

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) offers free resources and programs to help your patients kick the tobacco habit. Learn more about what is available at QuitlineNC.com.

In the News

35,000 People Die from Drug Resistant Infections Annually, CDC Says, Becker’s Hospital Review, 11-13-19

The ‘Post-Antibiotic Era’ is Here: Drug Resistant Superbugs Sicken 2.8 million and Kill 35K Each Year, USA Today, 11-13-19

Learning Opportunity

The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health American Health Initiative has developed a podcast series aimed at digging a little deeper into issues that impact public health in the United States, highlighting policies and programs that work and exploring what the evidence shows about how to address some of our most pressing challenges. The series focuses on five areas including: opioids, suicide, gun violence and food insecurity. Most of the podcasts around 20 minutes. Access the series to listen.