Welcome to Monday’s NCMS Morning Rounds.

Dec. 21, 2020

NCMS Legislative Update

A lot was going on last week as the holidays approach and the NC General Assembly prepares to return to Raleigh in January. Here are some of the newsy highlights:

  • NC legislators and the Governor worked together to ensure that nearly $30 million in funding will indeed be distributed to increase broadband access in rural communities. This is good news for those struggling to connect to the internet, a crucial service especially during the pandemic for those using telehealth and for students learning remotely.

The money will fund 18 broadband infrastructure projects with a goal of connecting 15,965 households and 703 businesses in rural North Carolina to high-speed internet. The grants are part of the 2020 Special Supplementary Round of the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Grant program and will be distributed through the N.C. Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO).

  • After several recounts, the extremely close election for NC Supreme Court Chief Justice was finally called with Justice Paul Newby being named the new chief justice. Incumbent Chief Justice Cherie Beasley conceded to Newby last Saturday.
  • The first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the state and frontline health care workers began being vaccinated against the virus. Pfizer, an NCMS Business Alliance member, offers the following information on their response to COVID-19 and their vaccine.

o Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Resources – www.pfizer.com/health/coronavirus
o U.S. Health Care Professional Information – https://www.cvdvaccine-us.com/
o Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers – https://www.cvdvaccine-us.com/images/pdf/fact-sheet-for-recipients-and-caregivers.pdf
o Medical Information – https://www.pfizermedicalinformation.com/
o Commitment to Diversity in Clinical Trials – https://www.pfizer.com/science/clinical-trials/diversity-clinical-trials

Three legislative committees held meetings last week – the Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement and Justice, which is co-chaired by NCMS member Rep. Kristin Baker, MD, (R-Cabarrus), the only physician in the NC House; the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee and the NC Child Fatality Task Force. Watch our NCMS Legislative blog for summaries of those committee meetings.

NC Council for Health Care Coverage Holds Second Meeting

Last Friday, the NC Council for Health Care Coverage, a bipartisan, multi-sector council called by Governor Roy Cooper to examine how best to increase health care coverage in the state and develop principles to guide policymakers, met for the second time. View the meeting agenda here.

Participants on the council, which is facilitated by Duke University’s Margolis Center for Health Policy, include legislators, representatives of the business, health care and nonprofit communities. The NCMS is represented by NCMS Board of Directors member Merritt Seshul, MD, MBA, FACS and NCMS Executive Vice President and CEO Chip Baggett, JD. See the list of participants.

This effort is in line with the NCMS’ collaborative approach to addressing issues like increasing health care coverage. You can watch a recording of Friday’s meeting here.

The Council will reconvene on Friday, Jan. 8.

Challenge: Increase Well-Child Visits and Immunizations

The federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has issued a challenge to primary care pediatric practices to come up with innovative approaches to increasing access to and utilization of well-child visits and/or immunization services. Vaccinations and well-child visits help prevent outbreaks of childhood diseases. Recent CDC data show that fewer children got vaccines on time this year compared to last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first phase of this P4 Challenge initiative, up to 50 applicants will receive $10,000 to formulate their ideas and deploy them in Phase 2. Submissions must include a primary care provider who delivers health services to children as a key submitter or partner.

Learn more about the challenge and how to apply here.

In the News

Trusted Messengers May Help Disenfranchised Communities Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy, Kaiser Health News, 12-17-20

Racial Bias in Pulse Oximeters May Put Black Patients at Risk, Becker’s Hospital Review, 12-17-20

Learning Opportunity

The Roundtable on Population Health Improvement will host a 2-day virtual workshop addressing community-led initiatives for population health improvement on Jan. 28–29. Two sessions will be held daily: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. This event will feature presentations and discussions on community-led action around a variety of population health improvement areas, including the social determinants of health. Learn more and register here. A recording of the workshop will also be posted to the webpage two weeks after the event.

And DON’T FORGET to join State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer Betsey Tilson, MD, MPH, and other experts from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) for the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan office hours on Tuesday, Dec. 22 from 6-7 p.m. Dr. Tilson will provide an update on North Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan and respond to questions during a Q&A session. Click here for the Zoom link. For dial-in, call (646) 558-8656 and use webinar ID 131 899 801.

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