It’s Tuesday and time for your

NCMS Morning Rounds.

  March 10, 2020

Keeping Up with Covid-19

Here is some of the latest Covid-19 news specifically for health care professionals. Remember, the best source for the latest information and guidance for NC physicians and PAs to prevent, test for and treat Covid-19 is the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Covid-19 website.

  • In addition, the American Medical Association (AMA) has created a COVID-19 Resource Center, billed as ‘a curation of comprehensive CDC, JAMA and WHO resources, that will quickly help physicians prepare their practices, address patient concerns and answer the most pressing questions.’
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a Frequently Asked Question page on Medicare payment for Covid-19 laboratory tests including guidance on how to bill and receive payment for testing patients at risk of Covid-19 and information on billing for telehealth or in-home provider services. Access CMS’ Covid-19 FAQ page.
  • CMS also has issued coding guidance for Covid-19 laboratory tests. The Medicare claims processing systems will be able to accept these codes starting April 1. Learn more here.
  • To keep track of CMS’ ongoing response to Covid-19, visit the agency’s Current Emergencies Website.
  • Since proper hand washing/sanitizing is a major way to contain the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reminding everyone that hand sanitizers need to have at least 60 percent alcohol, if you’re using them instead of washing your hands with soap and water – the preferred method. This report from ProPublica reveals that many of the products people are snapping up rely on benzalkonium chloride instead of alcohol as the active ingredient. Such non-alcohol antiseptic products may not work as well for many types of germs, the CDC says

Behavioral Health Crisis System Memo for Medicaid Standard Plans

To help ensure that individuals experiencing behavioral health crises have immediate access to a robust continuum of crisis services and are linked to appropriate follow-up care once they are stabilized, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) issued a memo last week detailing how local comprehensive crisis systems are sustained and improved following Medicaid Transformation.

Currently, DHHS works with its Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization (LME/MCO) partners to maintain a comprehensive behavioral health services crisis system and to create alternatives to overly restrictive levels of care and non-therapeutic dispositions. Local and regional investments reinforce DHHS and LME/MCO efforts to support local crisis systems. As part of its efforts to improve the delivery and availability of crisis services throughout the state’s counties, North Carolina enacted Session Law 2018-33, which required each LME/MCO to adopt a “Community Crisis Services Plan” for their catchment area that is comprised of “Local Area Services Plans” by October 2019.

DHHS is committed to ensuring these systems include: facility- and community-based Medicaid, state and county funded services, trainings for first responders and diversion from non-therapeutic and overly restrictive settings. Standard Plans will be responsible for maintaining comprehensive behavioral health crisis systems on behalf of their beneficiaries once Medicaid transformation occurs. The memo states it is of utmost importance to DHHS that Standard Plan beneficiaries who experience behavioral health emergencies have the same or better access to crisis services and providers than they have today.

The memo details Medicaid managed care Standard Plan requirements and expectations related to crisis services across a range of areas, including crisis services plans, covered services, provider contracting and reimbursement, and the transitioning of Standard Plan beneficiaries into LME/MCOs (and Behavioral Health I/DD Tailored Plans after their implementation) following crises. Additional guidance regarding Behavioral Health I/DD Tailored Plan expectations and requirements related to crisis services will be forthcoming.

Read the memo to learn more.

NCPHP Burnout Expert Featured on News

WRAL-TV interviewed Clark Gaither, MD, FAAFP, medical director for the NC Professionals Health Program (NCPHP, formerly the NC Physicians Health Program) on professional burnout – the causes, the symptoms and what you can do about it. The nearly 6-minute long segment raised awareness about burnout among professionals, but also about the role the NCPHP can plan in helping overcome the symptoms associated with burnout. Watch the segment.

Learn more about the NCPHP on its Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Reminder: NCMS Sunday Survey #2 – Insurance Payer Improvements

Thank you to everyone who has already responded to the second of five NCMS Sunday Surveys. The topic this week is ‘insurance payer improvements’ and focuses on your interactions with the various types of public and private health insurance plans. The one question asks what you see as the top priority for our advocacy efforts in making improvements in this area.

The NCMS Legislative Cabinet will use the results of these surveys as they consider advocacy priorities for the coming legislative session. Your input is crucial, so please take just a minute to ponder and answer the one question. You have until Thursday to respond with the results being published in Friday’s NCMS Morning Rounds.

Take this week’s NCMS Sunday Survey.

In the News

Coronavirus ‘Infodemic’ Threatens World’s Health Institutions, AXIOS, 2-25-20

Learning Opportunity

Reminder: The North Carolina Medical Society Alliance will host a special meeting for Alliance members and guests about the state’s Healthy North Carolina 2030 initiative featuring speaker Brieanne Lyda-McDonald, MSPH. The meeting will be held at the North Carolina Institute of Medicine on March 24, from 10am-noon. Lunch discussion to follow (optional). Reserve your seat now!