Welcome to a new week and your NCMS Morning Rounds!

Feb. 8, 2021

NCMS Legislative Update

Last week, the Senate and House fast-tracked and unanimously passed SB 36—2020 COVID Relief Bill Modifications. The bill makes modifications to the 2020 COVID relief bill such as extending deadlines for spending federal COVID funds allocated last year.

Part of that funding included $25 million allocated to the NCMS Foundation to help independent practices struggling financially due to the pandemic. The Foundation was able to distribute the total amount by the original Dec. 30, 2020 deadline, benefitting 643 practices or 3,830 individual providers. The average grant per practice was just under $38,000. The map below shows the location of the practices awarded these Financial Recovery Program funds.

The legislation also includes $94.7 million for the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ (NCDHHS) vaccine distribution program and another $39 million for the GREAT rural broadband grant program. This program supports grants to enhance broadband infrastructure in rural North Carolina.

Another COVID relief bill is expected in the coming weeks, and will focus on spending more of the federal dollars appropriated by Congress last December. Watch your NCMS Morning Rounds for updates on this legislation as well as check the NCMS legislative blog for daily bill summaries.

Last Thursday, the House Health Committee held the first of its oversight hearings on the state’s vaccine distribution efforts and heard from NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH and local health directors.

During her presentation, Sec. Cohen stated that DHHS’ goal is to vaccinate as many people as quickly and equitably as possible with a very limited supply of vaccines. She said that there is still more work to do with vaccinating North Carolinians who are age 65 and older, and the state will remain in priority group 2 for at least a few more weeks. Committee members questioned the Secretary on issues such as the timeframe for teachers being vaccinated; vaccine cancellations across the state; the lack of inclusion of pharmacists as vaccine providers; an inconsistent vaccine supply to rural areas and low vaccine numbers in minority populations.

Thank you to the nearly 400 NCMS members who sent ‘welcome back’ messages to their legislators through our Action Alert. Building a relationship with your elected representatives is crucial to our legislative advocacy efforts. You are uniquely positioned to help educate legislators on the issues that impact your practice and the health of their constituents. You can still send a welcome message here.

Tomorrow: NCDHHS Office Hours on COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 6 to 7 p.m. State Health Director Betsey Tilson, MD, MPH, and other NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) leaders will offer an update on new COVID-19 vaccines, the status of distribution (including allocation, provider enrollment and prioritization), available communications resources and the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS). Speakers will respond to questions during the Q & A portion of the presentation. Access the meeting via Zoom here.

Also, Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) and NC AHEC are collaborating to build a resource hub for vaccine-related information. Explore these materials here.

And NCDHHS has a wealth of resources on its You Have a Spot. Take Your Shot website here.

In Memoriam: Charles B. Hammond, MD, FACOG, FRCOG

NCMS life member, Charles B. Hammond, MD, FACOG, FRCOG, died on Monday, Feb 1, 2021. He was a renowned educator, researcher, advocate for women’s health, mentor and obstetrician/gynecologist. He was a past president of the NC Ob/Gyn Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and held multiple other leadership positions.

Dr. Hammond had a long and distinguished career at Duke University serving as Edwin Crowell Hamblen Distinguished Professor of Reproductive Biology and Family Planning and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology from 1980 to 2002.

Read more and watch a video about Dr. Hammond’s remarkable life and legacy at the Duke University School of Medicine Obstetrics and Gynecology Department website here.

In the News

Johnson & Johnson Submits Application for Covid-19 Vaccine to FDA, STAT, 2-4-21

Learning Opportunity

Office Hours with NC DHHS to Discuss COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan (Zoom meeting), Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 6 to 7 p.m.
Join State Health Director Elizabeth Tilson, MD, MPH and other leadership from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) for an update on new vaccines, status of distribution (including allocation, provider enrollment, and prioritization), communications resources, and the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS). Speakers will respond to questions during a Q&A session.

Click here to join.

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