Welcome to a new week and your NCMS Morning Rounds 

March 15, 2021

Help With COVID-19 Vaccination Effort

With COVID-19 vaccine supply ramping up and President Joe Biden’s recent announcement that all adults should be eligible for vaccination by May 1, the necessary workforce to get the vaccines administered needs to be in place. To that end, NC AHEC has created a volunteer survey for physicians and PAs interested in participating in vaccination events. This is intended to supplement the state’s centralized volunteer database, NC TERMS and is focused on licensed medical professionals.

NC AHEC is trying to compile volunteer lists of interested physicians and PAs to offer to local health departments as they are staffing up for vaccination events that aren’t supported by a health system or other institution. Access the survey here.

If you are interested in volunteering, NC AHEC offers a free vaccine training module. It uses a team-based lens, it is applicable to every member of the vaccine team. Learn more and access the training here.

Expanding Vaccine Eligibility for Those at Higher Risk

Last week, Governor Roy Cooper and NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, announced that beginning this Wednesday, March 17, those in COVID-19 vaccine eligibility Group 4 who have a medical condition that puts them at higher risk and those who live in additional congregate settings will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. The rest of Group 4, which includes other essential workers will become eligible April 7.

In keeping with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 include those with asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, sickle cell disease, obesity, or smoking. The updated eligibility also includes anyone who is living in higher risk congregate or close group living settings who is not already vaccinated including, people experiencing homelessness or living in a homeless shelter and people in a correctional facility, such as jail or prison.

Currently eligible groups – health care workers, long-term care staff and residents, people 65 and older, and child-care and school staff – will continue to be prioritized. Learn more about the state’s recommendations on who is at higher risk here.

Over the past weeks, the NCMS’ refrain has been: “Those who would fare the worst, should be vaccinated first.”

NCMS Legislative Update

The budget process is underway with the various appropriations committees, including the committee focused on health expenditures, meeting regularly. The NCMS is advocating for increased funding for public health and other areas that would benefit the health of North Carolinians. Stay up-to-date on the action at the NC General Assembly throughout the week by visiting our NCMS legislative blog.

Thank you to those who took action and contacted your legislators through our Action Alert on HB93 – Require Naloxone Scripts with Opioid Scripts. This legislation is a prescribing mandate, which the NCMS strongly opposes. In addition to the 800 Action Alert emails sent to legislators a formal letter signed by 30 NC medical specialty and county societies was sent to legislators (read the letter here) and the AMA also sent a letter opposing this proposal. Read the AMA’s letter here.

Our grassroots efforts and your emails did have an impact. Several of the bill sponsors pulled their support for the bill. Even so, the proposal did pass out of the Insurance Committee last week and is now before the House Health Committee. Please continue to reach out to legislators in opposition. Do so now with this Action Alert.

Also last week, HB277/SB249 – the SAVE Act, was introduced. This proposal would change the supervisory regulations for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives and nurse specialists to allow independent practice. This is another proposal on which to reach out to your legislators to share your views. Watch your NCMS Morning Rounds for more on this proposal as the session progresses.

Our official White Coat Wednesday season kicked off last week when NCMS Board of Directors member Holly Biola, MD, MPH brought a group of UNC preventive medicine residents to meet with legislators and participate in a thoughtful discussion on equity and public health issues.

Our weekly White Coat Wednesday is your opportunity to learn about the NCMS’ advocacy on your behalf and to meet with your elected representatives. These sessions are currently being held virtually. Learn more and sign up for this meaningful opportunity to engage with the legislative process and your NCMS colleagues. And it doesn’t have to be on Wednesday! Thanks in part to holding these meetings virtually, we can be flexible if there is a better time for you to meet with your legislators.

In the News

Are Covid-19 vaccine side effects worse for women? Advisory Board, 3-11-21

Learning Opportunity

Diabetic Eye Care for Federally Qualified Health Centers Webinar: Mar 25 at 1 PM
Learn how the IRIS solution for diabetic retinal exams has positively impacted the patient population by helping to preserve eyesight at CommUnity Care Health Centers of Texas, an FQHC in Austin. With panelists from IRIS and CommUnity Care, we will discuss achieving quality/HEDIS measures, equipment decisions, designing workflows, EMR integration, and more!

Learn more and register here.

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