Happy Thursday! Enjoy your  NCMS Morning Rounds

  August 6, 2020

Was your practice impacted by Hurricane Isaias? Please reply to this email to let us know if we can help. The NCMS is there for you in a crisis – whether it’s through procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) during the current pandemic or helping practices rebuild after Hurricane Florence. We want to help ensure you can continue caring for your community.

CMS Releases New Fee and Quality Payment Program Proposals

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released the proposed 2021 Medicare physician fee schedule (PFS) rule, which includes proposed changes to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and alternative payment model (APM) participation options and requirements for 2021. Included in the 1,300+ page proposed rule is the 2021 Medicare payment rates for physician services and the MIPS reporting requirements for 2021.

You can read the proposed rule here. For a summary of what is contained in the proposal, here are the Physician Fee Schedule Fact Sheet and Quality Payment Program Fact Sheet. The final rule is expected by November 2020.

For some initial perspective on the proposal, the AMA has a brief summary of key issues, perhaps most notably that adjustments to the evaluation and management coding and payment policies, plus other changes, will produce an 11 percent cut in the fee schedule conversion factor to maintain budget neutrality. Read the AMA’s summary here. And, here is the press release put out by the AMA.

To learn more about this proposal CMS is offering a webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 2 to 3:30 p.m. to give an overview and answer questions as time permits. Register here.

Seeking Practices for STUN Campaign

NC AHEC is recruiting family medicine and internal medicine practices to participate in the Stop Unhealthy Alcohol Use Now (STUN) campaign in North Carolina. The initiative will help practices implement evidence-based interventions such as screening for unhealthy alcohol use; brief interventions for adult patients who drink too much; and medication-assisted therapy for patients with an alcohol use disorder. This activity is funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) initiative and in partnership with the University of North Carolina Sheps Center.

Excessive alcohol use, which affects almost a third of adults in the US, is the nation’s third leading cause of preventable death. It is a major risk factor for many health, social and economic problems. In addition, the problem has worsened and contributed to the extended COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about the STUN campaign in this flyer. NC AHEC is also offering a Lunch & Learn webinar on Aug. 12 from noon to 12:30 p.m. on helping patients with unhealthy alcohol use. Learn more and register for the webinar here.

If you have questions, please email NC AHEC at [email protected].

Highlighting Step Therapy Victory

NCMS member and President of the NC Neurology Society Guarang Palikh, MD, FAAN, was interviewed for a television report on the recent step therapy reform passed by the NC General Assembly

The NCMS has advocated strongly on this issue and is pleased to celebrate this legislative victory to help you care for your patients.

Thank you, Dr. Palikh for taking the time to talk to the media about step therapy.

Watch the report.

In the News

Telemedicine is Booming – But Many People Still Face Huge Barriers to Virtual Care, STAT, 8-5-20

Learning Opportunity

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) is offering a public workshop on Equitable Allocation of Vaccines Against COVID-19 on Friday, Aug. 7 from 3:15 to 6:15 p.m. This free workshop is part of a fast-track study that will help policymakers plan for equitable allocation of a limited initial supply of vaccine against COVID-19. Topics will include (subject to change):
• Updates on current vaccine development and distribution activities, including Operation Warp Speed and the World Health Organization’s SAGE Working Group on COVID-19 Vaccines
• Learning from past vaccine allocation experiences and current state needs in the United States, and strategies to ensure public trust and equity
• The role of infectious disease dynamics in informing vaccine allocation strategy
The Committee’s activity page is linked here, and the specific meeting page is linked here–a public agenda will be posted to the meeting page prior to the event. Learn more and register here.

REMEMBER this week’s Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership Power Hour, Friday, Aug. 7 from 1 to 2 p.m. The topic is LGBTQ+ and access to health care during COVID-19. Learn more and register today.


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