Happy Tuesday! Here is your NCMS Morning Rounds.

November 24, 2020

Holiday Calls for Safety

Yesterday, at his weekly pandemic briefing, Governor Roy Cooper extended North Carolina’s COVID-19 Phase 3 executive order until Dec. 11, one week after it was set to expire.

Stating that “we are in danger,” Cooper said his new executive order means wearing a mask at home when friends are over as well as at work, the gym, stores and schools. The updated order can be enforced by state and local law enforcement, which may cite individuals or businesses for non-compliance. Read the order here.

The Governor and NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, also urged people to limit holiday gatherings, to wear masks and to be physically distanced and outdoors whenever possible.

Last week NCMS President Philip Brown, Jr., MD, FACS, issued a statement urging the public to practice the public health measures promoted by the NCDHHS to keep themselves, their loved ones, friends and their larger community safe during the upcoming holidays. Here is Dr. Brown’s message:

Let’s protect our neighbors, their jobs and our community. During the Thanksgiving holiday, please wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and keep your distance. We’ve all grown weary of the pandemic and what it’s done to our lives. These simple steps make a big difference, and your community needs help. The doctors and PAs of this state thank you sincerely for following these safety measures during the holidays.

NCDHHS has provided flyers outlining the protocols for the public, including your staff and patients, including flyers newly translated into Spanish. Access the English and Spanish versions below.

Essential COVID-19 Practice Survey

As we have since last March, the NCMS, NC Medical Group Management Association and Curi continue working together to gather essential practice information from administrators and clinicians across North Carolina relative to the COVID-19 crisis.

To support this valuable effort, we are continuing to send a brief e-survey once a month with the same tracking questions.

We ask that you please complete this survey when you receive it in your inbox or click here to take the survey now.

The information and data you share will be compiled and used anonymously to better understand your most acute and immediate needs and to establish any trends to inform our policymakers and legislative initiatives on behalf of the physicians, PAs, practice administrators and patients of North Carolina.

We know this is a stressful and uncertain time, but by taking less than five minutes to complete this survey, you allow us to better respond to and represent your needs.

Thank you for your time and your commitment to your communities.

Please click on the links below to access the Practice Data Survey Summary and Data Trends reporting:

Summary Report – March-April 2020
Trends Report – March – April 2020
NC Practice Financial Report
Telehealth Data Summary Report
Reopening NC Healthcare Practice Report – May 26, 2020
Practice Well-being Report
Sixteen Week Summary Report

Stark Law Updated With Value-based Health Care In Mind

Last week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the final rule to ‘modernize’ Medicare’s physician self-referral law, commonly called the ‘Stark Law.’ This regulation was enacted in 1989, when most health care was paid for under a fee-for-service model. The goal of the Stark Law basically is to protect patients by prohibiting a physician from making referrals for certain health care services payable by Medicare if the physician (or an immediate family member) has a financial relationship with the entity performing the service.

Since the regulations were enacted, Medicare and the private market have implemented many value-based health care delivery and payment systems to address unsustainable cost growth in the current fee-for-service system. A value-based system pays based on the quality of patient care rather than the volume of services provided. Some of the Stark Law regulations prohibited some arrangements designed to enhance care coordination, improve quality and reduce waste. Although the regulations that interpret the Stark Law have been updated several times, all previous changes left in place a framework that is tailored to a fee-for-service environment.

The recently adopted final rule includes a comprehensive package of reforms to modernize the regulations that interpret the Stark Law, while continuing to protect the Medicare program and patients. Under this final rule, the regulations will support the necessary evolution of the health care delivery and payment system in this country.

Learn more and link to the final rule here.

In the News

US Flu Activity ‘Unusually Low:’ Five Notes From the CDC’s FluView Report, Becker’s Hospital Review, 11-20-20

Learning Opportunity

Join this virtual CME event on ‘Racial Disparities in Medicine on Dec. 12 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This Zoom webinar will examine the socioeconomic, racial and ethnic disparities in health care. 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!