Welcome to a new week and your NCMS Morning Rounds.

Nov. 9, 2020

NCMS Legislative Update

As of last Friday the election still was too close to call, but NCMS Director of Legislative Relations Sue Ann Forrest, MPA had some insights into election 2020 that she shared in the NCMS’ weekly Political Pulse video. A big thank you to the many NCMS members who were invested enough in the process to reach out to us for insight into who was on their ballot and to get to the polls. North Carolina had a record-setting 75 percent of registered voters turning out for last Tuesday’s election.

The final tally of votes will not be known until this Friday, Nov. 13 since any NC ballot postmarked by the Nov. 3 election day may be counted until that date. The State Board of Elections also reported that there were 40,766 provisional ballots cast on Election Day that need to be reviewed.

As of last Friday, the US Senate race between incumbent Republican Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham had not been called, but Tillis was slightly ahead. In other NC Congressional races, incumbent and NCMS member Greg Murphy, MD (R-NC3) retained his seat in the US House. Three new people joined the state’s US House delegation Madison Cawthorn (R-NC11), Deborah Ross (D-NC2) and Kathy Manning (D-NC6).

In statewide races, incumbents were favored with Gov. Roy Cooper winning reelection along with likely Counsel of State winners – again, some races had not been called definitively by the end of last week – Attorney General Josh Stein, Auditor Beth Wood and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, Agriculture Secretary Steve Troxler, State Treasurer Dale Folwell and Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. Three newcomers joined the Counsel: Lt. Governor Mark Robinson, Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson and Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt.

The judicial races came down decidedly in favor of Republicans, but the contest for chief justice was extremely tight with a tie between Justices Cheri Beasley and Paul Newby.

Both houses of the NC General Assembly retained their Republican majorities, although they are not super-majorities meaning any override of the Governor’s veto would need some democratic support. NCMS member Rep. Perrin Jones, MD (R-Pitt) lost his reelection bid in a very tight race. But there is still one doctor in the NC House – NCMS member Kristin Baker, MD (R-Cabarrus) won reelection.

Watch your NCMS Morning Rounds and Political Pulse video for updates this week as we will offer further analysis once all the votes are counted.

NCDHHS Launches Medicaid Managed Care Enrollment Website

On Friday the NC Department of Health and Human Services launched the NC Medicaid Managed Care Enrollment website – www.ncmedicaidplans.gov – in preparation for the launch of Medicaid managed care on July 1, 2021.

The website will help Medicaid beneficiaries learn more about Medicaid managed care, the benefits offered and a list of frequently asked questions. Most Medicaid patients will select from one of the five health plans the state has contracted with to provide Medicaid services — WellCare, United HealthCare, Healthy Blue, AmeriHealth Caritas and Carolina Complete Health (a joint venture between the NCMS and Centene serving regions 3, 4 and 5).
In January 2021, the website will add a Medicaid and NC Health Choice Provider and Health Plan Lookup Tool to find and select a primary care provider and a Choice Guide to view health plans and select those with the best features for their needs.

Medicaid Managed Care open enrollment will begin March 15, 2021 and will continue through May 14, 2021. To learn more about North Carolina’s transformation to Medicaid Managed Care, visit the Medicaid Transformation webpage.

REMINDER: Beware of Suspicious Emails

Just a reminder to be careful before opening an email that looks suspicious and clicking on any links or attachments to that email. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers some advice on how to identify and avoid emails or text messages that may be phishing scams.

For instance, an email may look like it’s from a company you know or trust and often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. They may

• say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts
• claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information
• say you must confirm some personal information
• include a fake invoice
• want you to click on a link to make a payment
• say you’re eligible to register for a government refund
• offer a coupon for free stuff

While spam blockers catch some of the bad stuff, the FTC suggests four other ways to be sure to protect yourself.

• Protect your computer by using security software. Set the software to update automatically so it can deal with any new security threats.
• Protect your mobile phone by setting software to update automatically. These updates could give you critical protection against security threats.
• Protect your accounts by using multi-factor authentication. Some accounts offer extra security by requiring two or more credentials to log in to your account. This is called multi-factor authentication. The additional credentials you need to log in to your account fall into two categories:
o Something you have — like a passcode you get via text message or an authentication app.
o Something you are — like a scan of your fingerprint, your retina, or your face.
• Protect your data by backing it up. Back up your data and make sure those backups aren’t connected to your home network. You can copy your computer files to an external hard drive or cloud storage. Back up the data on your phone, too.

Read more about the FTC’s recommendations here.

In the News

Spread of Mutated Coronavirus in Danish Mink ‘Hits All the Scary Buttons,’ But Fears May be Overblown, STAT, 11-5-20

Learning Opportunity

Southern Regional AHEC is offering an interdisciplinary CME program addressing health equity in Latino communities on Nov. 13 from 11 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. The program will be offered in English and Spanish via Zoom and examine disparities that are magnified by the pandemic and will discuss resources for health care providers. Learn more and register.

If you have policies you’d like your NCMS Board of Directors to consider, please complete the Board input form here. Thanks for reading!