The General Assembly is beginning to hit its stride with more bills being filed that might affect your practice. The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) tracks them all and keeps you updated on each bill’s progress – or demise – as well as how to engage with your legislator. It’s all on our 2017 Legislative Session Blog, which is updated regularly.
Here are some highlights:
Optometrists want to perform surgery

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NCMS President Paul R.G. Cunningham, MD, testifies before the NC House Health Committee.

Last week, NCMS President Paul R.G. Cunningham, MD, testified before the House Health Committee on HB36, the bill that would expand optometrists’ scope of practice to include performing surgery with lasers and scalpels. Learn more about the bill and why we’re opposed to it as well as watch Dr. Cunningham’s testimony. The committee heard from both sides on the issue, but no vote was taken. A vote may come as early as next week, so it is imperative to reach out to your legislator to oppose this dangerous proposal. You may send this Action Alert.
The state gets serious about physicians helping to stem the opioid epidemic
At a press conference last week, legislators, law enforcement officials and the NC Attorney General unveiled the STOP (Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention) Act, HB243/SB175 legislation aimed at curbing the state’s opioid abuse epidemic. Rep. Greg Murphy, MD, wearing his white coat, urged his fellow physicians to support this bill, which includes prescribing limits and mandates checking the Controlled Substance Reporting System (CSRS) among other provisions. He acknowledged that checking the CSRS may be a hassle, but that saving lives from opioid abuse should outweigh that. Learn more about the bill and watch NCMS Senior VP for Advocacy Programs and Associate General Counsel Chip Baggett’s Bowtie Briefing video on the subject.
This morning, Wednesday, the bill was discussed in the House Health Committee, and Rep. Murphy answered his fellow legislators questions about the proposal with the insight only a physician can bring to the topic. This was an informational hearing and no vote was taken.
On Tuesday, the Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Mandy Cohen, MD, also sent all physicians in the state a letter asking for their help in stemming the opioid abuse epidemic in the state. Read that letter.
Don’t forget – the NCMS along with the Pitt County Medical Society are offering free CME session on opioid prescribing on Saturday, March 18 from 2-4 p.m. in Greenville. Learn more and register.
Members react to nurses desire to eliminate supervision
HB88 seeks to eliminate the supervision requirement for nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists. We oppose this bill because it undermines the team approach to care delivery. Under current statute, advanced practice RNs are allowed to practice to the top of their individual training and abilities. By eliminating physician supervision and reducing their scope of practice to specifically what is outlined in a statute, NC nurses will be left with a shared definition that is the lowest common denominator skillset. Learn more about this bill.
The medical community has responded strongly in opposition to this bill sending over 1,200 email messages to legislators urging them to oppose this bill. Join your colleagues if you haven’t already sent this Action Alert to your legislator.