Enjoy your Thursday

NCMS Morning Rounds.

  April 30, 2020

NC Legislature Is Back and Busy

The NC General Assembly reconvened on Tuesday and got right to work — albeit in unusual circumstances due to social distancing requirements. Legislatiors moved legislation addressing the state’s needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic through various committees in anticipation of possible floor votes yet this week.

The following is an overview of some of the activity in both the House and Senate over the past two days:

The House Appropriations Committee approved HB 1038 – Omnibus COVID-19 Relief Response Funds. Most of this language was approved by and passed in the House COVID-19 Health Working Group. It includes a 5 percent Medicaid rate increase for all providers, funding to cover COVID-19 testing for the uninsured, $50 million for personal protective equipment (PPE), $6 million for food banks and $25 million for rural health providers. The NCMS summary of the bill can be found here. The bill was referred to the House Rules Committee.

The House Rules Committee passed HB 1037 – Health Care Working Group Policy Rec., which had passed the House Health Committee on Tuesday and contains several key priorities as set by the NCMS Legislative Cabinet, including liability protections and telehealth changes. If you haven’t already, please reach out to your legislators via our Action Alert or individually to let them know this issue is important to you. This bill will now move to the House floor for a vote.

The House Rules Committee also passed HB 1043 – COVID-19 Time Sensitive Matters.
To learn more about this bill and the committee’s proceedings, go to the NCMS Summary of the House Rules Committee Meeting here.

The Senate Passed SB-704 COVID-19 Recovery Act in Senate Appropriations Committee and on the Senate floor with a 48-0 vote. This bill includes liability protections, small business loan assistance and COVID-19 testing for the uninsured.

The main difference between the House and Senate plans is in the amount of spending. The Senate plan spends approximately $1.2 billion, while the House plan spends roughly $1.7 billion. House and Senate leaders have said a compromise is likely to be reached by Friday.

Senate leaders will decide if they will have a voting session today by 11 am, while the House convenes at noon.

The NCMS lobbying team is tracking all of these issues closely and remains laser focused on improving the health of all North Carolinians. Stay up to date by viewing our NCMS legislative blog or following us on twitter.

NCMS Business Partners Offer COVID-19 Testing

Two NCMS Business Alliance members, MAKO Medical and LabCorp, are commercial labs performing COVID-19 testing in the state. Quest Diagnostics also is a private lab authorized to perform the tests along with the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. Review the state’s latest testing guidance here.

The NCMS fully supports more widespread and on-going testing as outlined by Governor Roy Cooper and NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH. Ramping up testing for COVID-19 will give the state a better picture of the spread of the virus as well as when and how to reopen the economy now and in the future with public health being our top priority.

LabCorp is offering diagnostic COVID-19 tests, with, depending on demand, test results available on an average of 1 to 2 days from the pickup of the specimen. LabCorp recently began offering anti-body tests (learn more here) in accordance with public emergency guidance from the FDA. Learn more about LabCorp’s COVID-19 testing capabilities.

MAKO Medical is offering rapid, real-time diagnostic tests with a 24- to 36-hour turnaround time. They also are preparing to introduce anti-body tests. Learn more here.

Both LabCorp and MAKO also are valued partners in the NCMS Foundation’s Project OBOT.

The NCMS also is advocating at the NC General Assembly to ensure that the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment for anyone who needs it will be covered.

TONIGHT: NC Medicaid Ready to Answer Your Questions

As they have for the last several Thursdays, NC Medicaid officials will again be on hand this evening at 5:30 p.m. via webcast to address issues Medicaid providers are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week they will focus on answering FAQs about telehealth, telehealth guidance for dialysis, skilled nursing and introducing an innovative new appointment type called the Hybrid Home-Telehealth visit. Also they will cover details on the uninsured COVID testing and treatment payments from HRSA, and provide a deep dive on providing well-child and adolescent care using telehealth through case scenarios.

This webinar series is presented in partnership with Community Care of North Carolina and NC AHEC. Learn more and register here.

In the News

[Note: NCMS CEO Robert W. Seligson, MBA, MA, is quoted in the following article.]

Tackling Poverty in a Coronavirus-induced Economic Downturn: Is it Too Risky or the Right Thing to Do?, USA Today, 4-28-20

Learning Opportunity

Even if you couldn’t attend the on-going webinar series by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Center for Health Equity Research, recordings of the presentations are available online. Last week’s webinar with Dr. Giselle Corbie-Smith “Black Communities and COVID-19,” examined equitable access to health care, mortality rates and the overall impact of COVID-19 on black people’s mental and physical health. You can listen to a recording of the webinar here.

Yesterday’s webinar, “COVID-19 and Health Equity – Exploring Disparities and Long-Term Health Impacts” is part of the American Public Health Association and National Academy of Medicine’s series. Recordings and notice of future ‘COVID-19 Conversations’ webinars will be posted on this webpage.