Happy Monday! Here is your

NCMS Morning Rounds.

Dec. 16, 2019

NCMS Legislative Update

Things were quiet at the NC legislative building last week. The action was at the federal level as Congress dealt with impeachment proceedings and scrambled to finalize legislation to fund the government before this Friday. Also in play on Capitol Hill are several proposals to address surprise billing.

One proposal, out of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee working jointly with the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, uses benchmarking to resolve disputes between physician practices and insurance providers when a patient is faced with a surprise bill, or unanticipated charges for a procedure or treatment. Learn more about this approach.

The other proposal under consideration originates in the US House Ways and Means Committee and incorporates a dispute resolution model similar to arbitration. Learn more about this proposal.

Despite bipartisan support for addressing this issue before the end of the year, there is still no clear and detailed path forward at this point. Language is still being drafted for both proposals, so many questions remain.

This article offers a brief summary of the debate: The Debate Over ‘Surprise Billing’ Isn’t Over: House Lawmakers Unveil a Dueling Proposal, The Advisory Board Forum, 12-13-19

At its November meeting, the NCMS Board of Directors adopted a surprise billing policy framework, which seeks a solution that addresses the issue more proactively than either of the proposals now being considered by Congress. The Board would like legislation that shifts the focus from reacting to the surprise bill after the fact, to preventing it in the first place. This could be accomplished by identifying the areas where surprise billing is most likely to occur and negotiating charges before they are billed, perhaps by requiring them to be arbitrated in advance of services being rendered.

With this philosophy in mind, the Board agreed to the following policy framework statement: NCMS supports protecting patients from unanticipated bills due to non-network medical services through up-front, equitable financial arrangements.

Board members agreed this would help eliminate surprise bills and preserve the physician-patient relationship firmly in keeping with the NCMS’ values and mission. Learn more about the NCMS’ proactive approach to the issue.

Back in North Carolina, filing for elected office continues until this Friday. So far, two NCMS members have filed – Rep. Perrin Jones, MD, an anesthesiologist seeking to continue serving in the NC House representing Pitt County, and Mark Hollo, PA-C, who has filed for a NC Senate seat to represent Catawba County. The NCMS legislative relations team anticipates several other health care professionals will file before the deadline.

Finally, a big THANK YOU to those who have already made their annual contribution to the NCMS PAC. To those who have yet to donate, now is the time. Donate here.

NCMS Partners for a Diabetes Free NC

Every year in North Carolina 50,000 people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The NCMS has joined with the AMA and other stakeholders like the YMCA and the NC Division of Public Health to help prevent or delay the progression to diabetes by identifying and managing patients with pre-diabetes.

To help in this effort, the NCMS through its Our Community Health Initiative (OCHI) offers an easy way for you to connect your pre-diabetic patients with the evidenced-based Diabetes Prevention Program at the YMCA. The process is similar to making a referral to specialist through your EHR, but instead the patient is referred to the Diabetes Prevention Program. As the physician or physician assistant you then receive information back on your patient’s progress through this lifestyle change program, which is offered free or at low cost regardless of insurance provider. Learn more about this initiative.

This is all part of Diabetes Free NC, a statewide initiative to help prevent diabetes. It’s estimated that 2.8 million or 36.4 percent of North Carolinians have prediabetes. As NCMS member and Diabetes Free NC champion Brian Klausner, MD, says: “The easiest case of diabetes to treat and the most cost effective is the one that never started in the first place.”

Find out more about how you can help your patients and make a Diabetes Free NC a reality.

Educate Your Patients on Safe Storage and Disposal of Medication

The NCMS along with Project Lazarus, United Healthcare and the NC Healthcare Association supported the NC Medical Board (NCMB) in developing a resource to educate your patients about safe medication storage and proper disposal of unused, unneeded prescription drugs.

Information is printed on a two-sided color tearsheet, which can be given to patients when prescriptions – especially for frequently abused medications such as opioids, benzodiazepines and stimulants – are issued. The tearsheets are available in pads of 50.

The NCMB will send a supply of the safe medication tearsheets to you at no charge, while supplies last. Request a shipment by sending an email to [email protected]. Or next time you visit the NCMS Center for Leadership in Medicine you can pick up the tearsheets. Let us know you’re coming by emailing Elaine Ellis at [email protected] and we’ll have them ready for you.

In the News

Top 10 Health Related Questions Consumers Asked Google in 2019, Becker’s Hospital Review, 12-12-19

Learning Opportunity

Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS) is an evidence-based set of teamwork tools, aimed at optimizing patient outcomes by improving communication and teamwork skills among health care professionals. A TeamSTEPPS Master Trainer Course will be offered on Jan. 30-31, 2020 at the University Club in Durham. This 2-day in-person course is a train-the-trainer approach and will focus on inter-professional teamwork in the health care setting. Learn more and register.