Thank you for all you do!

  March 30, 2020

We are so grateful for your selfless service every day, but during these uncertain times we especially appreciate your knowledge, expertise and compassionate care. We feel honored to work on your behalf. THANK YOU from the NCMS staff!

NCMS Legislative Update

NCMS staff, leadership and committees have been working hard over the past week to listen to you and understand the challenges you are facing during this pandemic. We are working closely with our partners, agencies and elected officials at both the federal and state levels to address your needs.

We are still listening and soliciting your input on what your greatest challenges are in grappling with COVID-19 response in this week’s NCMS Sunday Survey. Access the survey here if you haven’t already responded. This information will be used by our Legislative Cabinet as they formulate our advocacy agenda to lobby on your behalf.

The NCMS Legislative Cabinet convened on Thursday evening after NCMS Board of Directors member Eileen Raynor, MD, FACS, FAAP, and NCMS Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Advancement Chip Baggett, JD, delivered testimony before the NC House Select Committee on COVID-19. Using the NCMS’ written report to the committee as a starting point, Legislative Cabinet members directed staff to use member input to develop a timeline starting with the most urgent, essential needs, followed by what anticipated needs will be during the peak of the pandemic, as life returns to normal and finally recommendations on the lessons learned and areas for improvement. Staff is working to develop with timeline of necessary legislative, regulatory and government actions to present this week. Watch your NCMS Morning Rounds for a summary.

In other important news, on Friday the President signed the $2 trillion stimulus and COVID-19 relief package, which Congress approved last week. Our federal partners at the AMA provided this brief overview of how the package might impact your medical practice.

The stimulus package:
• Creates a new loan product within the Small Business Administration for loans of up to $10 million to help cover payroll and overhead costs, with expanded loan forgiveness criteria. Physician practices with not more than 500 employees may qualify.
• $100 billion in direct financial support to hospitals, physician practices, and other health care providers under the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. This support is for costs of treating COVID-19 patients as well as to ease the financial impact on those who lose revenue due reductions in other services as a result of the pandemic. Exact eligibility criteria and application process is not yet defined pending implementation.
• Suspension of the 2 percent Medicare sequester in May through December 2020.
• Limitations on liability for volunteer health care professionals during COVID-19 emergency response.
• A temporary waiver of the face-to-face visit requirement with home dialysis patients.
• Authority for the Secretary of HHS to waive telehealth coverage requirements for new patients during a national emergency. Previous legislation provided flexibility only for established patients seen within the past three years.
• Secretary will also allow for enhanced use of telehealth under Medicare for federally qualified health centers.

Also of interest, the “health extenders” package that was set to expire on May 22 has now been extended to November 30.

Finding Oral Health Emergency Care

The NC Oral Health Collaborative (NCOHC), a program of the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation (FHLI), published a COVID-19 access map for oral health emergency care. Access the interactive map. The map is designed to assist patients in locating nearby Federally Qualified Health Centers, county health departments, free and charitable clinics, and other safety net sites for which they can seeks urgent dental services.

North Carolinians visit emergency departments for non-traumatic oral health issues at twice the national rate. It is especially important now as hospitals are grappling with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, to keep emergency departments available for trauma and COVID-19 response. While oral health providers have been notified to postpone elective procedures—following guidance from the American Dental Association and the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners—many are available to see patients for urgent dental needs.

If patients require care for an urgent oral health need, it is recommended that they find a nearby practice, but call before going in. Clinical practices may have special guidance to ensure the safety of staff and patients alike. Additionally, due to the strain on the entire public health system, hours of operation are subject to change.

NCOHC developed its practice site map in part to aid the UNC Adams School of Dentistry’s efforts in providing safe ways for patients to manage oral health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. NCOHC’s practice map will be updated regularly as new information is available.

Alternative PPE Resource

Since the personal protective equipment (PPE) supply is short, Blue Cross and Blue Shield NC has been working with provider systems and innovators across the state to support efforts to produce PPE through alternative means (i.e., 3D printing, injection molding). They have created a site to gauge your interest and need, and to directly connect you to producers of these materials.

Visit the alternative PPE site.

In the News

Our best defense against Covid-19? Science. STAT, 3-27-20

Learning Opportunity

Get a broader perspective on COVID-19 during this live chat on Wednesday, April 1 at 11 a.m. The pandemic has had profound effects on daily life across much of the globe. To defeat it, public health officials are taking unprecedented steps to stop viral spread, while researchers and drug companies are racing to develop treatments and vaccines.

How is the public health response playing out? And what kinds of treatments might one day help? Join STAT reporters Helen Branswell, Sharon Begley, and reporter Andrew Joseph for a free live chat about these issues and more. Learn more and register here.