It’s finally Friday! Enjoy your NCMS Morning Rounds.

May 21, 2021

Don’t forget to take just a minute to answer four questions about the NC Health Information Exchange in this survey. Your input will help our advocacy on your behalf. Take the survey now.

Data Shows Many Have Foregone Preventive, Primary and Mental Health Care

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released data highlighting the continued impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beneficiaries and utilization of health services. The data show that, from March through October 2020, beneficiaries have foregone millions of primary, preventive and mental health care visits due to the pandemic, compared to the same time period in 2019. Although utilization rates for some treatments have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, mental health services show the slowest rebound.

This decline in utilization is occurring at a time when preliminary evidence shows mental health conditions have worsened nationwide, which may have a substantial impact on long-term health outcomes. Medicaid and CHIP-funded mental health services, in addition to primary and preventative services, cover the majority of children, people living in poverty, those with special health care needs and many who are among racial and ethnic minorities.

To help close this gap in services, CMS is emphasizing mental health care in its recently launched Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign, a national outreach and enrollment initiative funded under the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) and the Affordable Care Act, that reaches out to families with children and teens eligible for Medicaid and CHIP.

Specifically, the data reveals a 34 percent decline in the number of mental health services utilized by children under age 19, compared to the same time period in 2019, and 22 percent decline in the number of mental health services utilized by adults aged 19 to 64, compared to the same time period in 2019.

The data does show utilization rates for certain primary and preventive services for children under age 19 have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, or have started to rebound across many areas of the country. While this recovery is encouraging, millions of services still need to be delivered to make up for those missed between March and October 2020.

Preliminary 2020 data shows 9 percent fewer childhood vaccinations for beneficiaries under age two (1.8 million services), 21 percent fewer child screening services (4.6 million services) among children under age 19, and 39 percent fewer dental services (11.4 million services) among children under age 19 when compared to pre-pandemic levels. This data takes into account increases in telehealth utilization of services via telehealth, which has shown a marked increase in the number of services delivered via telehealth surging 2,700 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic over previous years.

Review the data here. A fact sheet on the Medicaid & CHIP and the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is available here.

RADx-UP CDCC Community Collaboration Mini-Grants Available

The RADx-UP CDCC Community Collaboration Mini-Grant Program is open to community serving organizations, faith-based organizations and tribal nations and organizations to help advance capacity, training, support and community experience with COVID-19 testing initiatives.

Many communities across the United States are facing more difficulties than others as they confront the COVID-19 pandemic. RADx-UP is working to help those communities most impacted by COVID-19 across the nation.

RADx-UP is researching COVID-19 testing patterns and data on disparities in infection rates, disease progression and outcomes and developing strategies to reduce disparities in COVID-19 testing by supporting projects across the country with established community partnerships.

The RADx-UP Coordination and Data Collection Center (CDCC) is led by the Duke Clinical Research and the Center for Health Equity Research at UNC-Chapel Hill. Learn more about RADx-UP here.

Read more about the RADx-UP CDCC Community Collaboration Mini-Grant Program here.

NCMS Book Club Begins The Beauty in Breaking Next Week

The NCMS Book Club will begin reading The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir by Michele Harper next Thursday, May 27. If you have not yet joined this online forum of colleagues interested in discussing interesting literature and ideas, please sign up today at this link.

A few top reasons why we think you’ll want to grab a copy of this selection and join us in the discussion include:

• Michele Harper, MD, is a female, African-American emergency room physician in an overwhelmingly white male profession. Her unique perspective on the challenges facing both healthcare and our nation is thought-provoking and fascinating.
• This “compelling page-turner” (Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain) is moving, beautiful, and inspiring. Despite the difficult subjects Harper tackles, she does so with a life-affirming vision towards a better future for herself and her readers.
• Despite being a book about her journey as a doctor, Harper’s stories about growing stronger from moments of “breaking” are genuinely universal and applicable to every reader.

We look forward to sharing in the spirited and insightful conversation between you and fellow book club members in our online community as we read The Beauty in Breaking together. These conversations are at the heart of what makes our book club such an enjoyable group!

In the News

Is it safe to ‘mix and match’ Covid-19 vaccines? Here’s what early research shows, Advisory Board, 5-18-21

Learning Opportunity

Stigma of Addiction Summit, June 10 from noon to 6 pm
This free, half-day, virtual, action-oriented summit will be entirely dedicated to understanding, addressing, and eliminating the harmful impacts of stigma on people who use drugs.

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!