Welcome to Wednesday and your mid-week

 NCMS Morning Rounds.

 Feb. 26, 2020

Coronavirus Update: NCMS In Close Contact With State Officials

With daily news reports detailing the latest cases of the coronavirus, Covid-19, your NCMS leadership is maintaining close contact with state health officials. Yesterday, NCMS President Palmer Edwards, MD, DFAPA, NCMS Board member Merritt Seshul, MD, FACS, FAAOA, and NCMS CEO Robert W. Seligson, MBA, MA spoke with NC State Health Director Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, MD, MPH and State Epidemiologist Zack Moore, MD, MPH about the state’s readiness if and when Covid-19 cases start showing up here. They advised to check the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Covid-19 website frequently since that is being updated regularly with the latest local and national advisories.

On Feb. 11, NC Governor Roy Cooper formed a task force, co-chaired by Dr. Tilson and State Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry to coordinate efforts among state and federal agencies to address any cases of the virus in the state and “to keep the public informed and safe,” the governor said in a statement.

“Though currently the risk to North Carolinians is low, we are taking a proactive approach and are prepared for potential scenarios,” Governor Cooper said.

Earlier this month, Dr. Tilson issued a temporary order that requires all physicians and labs to report suspected cases to the state. This will allow the state to help isolate the patient while testing continues to determine whether it truly is Covid-19. Read the article about the order in the Feb. 5 issue of your NCMS Morning Rounds.

Dr. Moore and others at the state level have been working with local health departments to coordinate information sharing and are in regular contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The risk to the general public in North Carolina, especially without history of travel to China, is still considered very low at this time. The World Health Organization offers these practical tips to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The economic impact is already being felt with turbulence in markets worldwide.

This USAToday news report details some of the economic impact, including what you might not find on store shelves as production is interrupted in Chinese factories due to the spread of the virus in that country. Right now, the scarcity may not be apparent, but economists quoted in the article say electronics, apparel, housewares and seasonal items for Halloween and Christmas could be effected. Still, they caution that Covid-19 shouldn’t stop you from investing in stocks or your 401k as usual. Read the article.

Watch your email and NCMS Morning Rounds for news on this rapidly evolving public health situation.

New ‘Public Charge Test’ Took Effect Monday

On Monday, a new set of policies related to public charge assessments took effect. This new policy affects individuals who want to apply to enter or re-enter the United States and/or modify their existing immigration status. Immigration officials look at all of a person’s circumstances, including income, employment, health, education or skills, family situation and whether a sponsor signed a contract promising to support the person. The officials can also look at whether a person has used certain benefit programs.

The changes to the public charge test includes accessing some health care benefits and has caused some confusion in the immigrant and health care communities raising concerns that patients will forego necessary health care.

Advocacy groups like the NC Justice Center say it is clear that Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace coverage will not negatively factor into a public charge assessment. That means both immigrants themselves AND their family members may continue to enroll in ACA coverage without any negative effect on a future application for a green card. In addition, nearly every immigrant and/or immigrant’s family member who is eligible for Medicaid coverage is likely to be able to enroll in that program as well without concern.

This list of Frequently Asked Questions compiled by the National Immigration Law Center explains what health programs may or may not be impacted by the changes.
The NC Justice Center also has information and resources for you and your patients in both English and Spanish to help clarify the changes.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please email Kate Woomer-Deters at the NC Justice Center at [email protected].


US Census Bureau Working with Pediatricians to Avoid Undercount

The US Census Bureau recently launched a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of counting newborn babies and young children accurately in the 2020 Census. Working with the Federation of Pediatric Organizations, the Census Bureau named March 25 as ‘Every Child Counts Day,’ a day when the pediatric community is encouraged to tell the adults with whom they interact about counting every child living in their homes. Read more about this announcement.

Responding accurately to the 2020 Census can help shape resources for children and their communities over the next decade. This could include support for health insurance programs, hospitals, child care, food assistance, schools and early childhood development programs.

Children under five years old are among population groups historically undercounted in the census. The Census Bureau is making a concerted effort to address this issue by creating community partnerships, educational programs, awareness campaigns, and operational innovations with the goal of raising awareness of the importance of counting young children. Access background information and resources highlighting this issue and how you can help ensure an accurate count.

In the News

Medical Community Struggles With Own Opioid Dilemma: How to Heal the Healers, The Boston Globe, 2-19-20

Learning Opportunity

North Carolina Medical Society Alliance will host a special meeting on March 24 from 10 a.m. to noon at the NC Institute of Medicine in Morrisville. The topic will be the state’s Healthy North Carolina 2030 initiative. The featured speaker is Brieanne Lyda-McDonald, MSPH. Lunch discussion to follow (optional). Learn more and register.