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  Community Pulse- September 2014



Health Reform Info

Project Access

WNC Interpreter Network

Boards of Directors





In This Issue:
Van Winkle Law Firm- Sponsor Message (Left)
New Members to WCMS
Physicians' Voice in the News
Alert from BCDH: Enterovirus D68 Confirmed in NC
A New Face for Charity Care (WCMS' Project Access referenced in article!)
WCMS Health Access Counselors Study for CAC Exam
Health Insurance Costs Dent Bottom Line at Pardee
New Park Ridge Campus Opens
Mission Hospital Building New Office in Sylva for Cancer Care Practice
Franklin's Angel Medical Center Hosts 1st Residents
DHHS Realigning Medicaid to Strengthen Foundation, Position for Future
Medicare Gives First Glimpse of ACO Quality Performance
The Study You Never Heard of: Small Practices Aren't Dead Yet
Quotes from a New WCMS Member



The Community Pulse e-Newsletter is designed for community members and non-member physicians. We choose selected important news and information items to share with you, so you are able to stay in-the-know on topics of interest to you.

If you are a physician but not yet a member, click here to view benefits of joining WCMS, and click here to complete an application.


Thank you for your support of, and interest in, the Western Carolina Medical Society!    

New Members to WCMS   
View the newest physicians to join WCMS.

A special thanks to Cherokee Indian Hospital for signing up a group of their physicians for membership!   
Physicians' Voice in the News      
WCMS is proud to announce another high quality addition to the series of "The Physicians' Voice" media presentations aimed to showcase to the general public our physicians' world-class medical expertise and focus on patient/community health.  
Here is the latest release:
You can read all about The Physicians' Voice on our website
Alert from BCDH: Enterovirus D68 Confirmed in NC 
Earlier this week, the NC DHHS confirmed the presence of enterovirus-D68 in NC.
  • Per DHHS, the confirmed cases were scattered across the state.
  • Buncombe County Health and Human Services has not heard of any confirmed cases locally; however, that doesn't mean it isn't here.
Click here to read more and to find the provider guidance in dealing with EV-D68.   
A New Face for Charity Care (WCMS' Project Access referenced in article!)
By Maia Crawford, Center for Health Care Strategies
J. Robin Moon, Grameen PrimaCare
Euny Lee, Grameen PrimaCare

"While the adult uninsurance rate has significantly declined under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Congressional Budget Office estimates 11 percent of the population - about 31 million individuals - will remain uninsured in 2024. As a result, charity care programs, which provide free or low-cost health care to individuals not eligible for affordable health insurance, will continue to play an important role in the in the U.S. health care system.

To remain viable and best meet the needs of local populations, charity care programs must adapt to the changing health care environment. To do this, existing charity care programs are assuming additional responsibilities and altering their business models, while new programs are emerging to target specific groups unable to access ACA coverage. .. many charity care programs-including Portico Healthnet in Minnesota and the Western Carolina Medical Society Foundation's Project Access in North Carolina- have invested resources in becoming enrollment assisters, helping connect their members and other uninsured individuals with new insurance options." 

Read more here.
WCMS Health Access Counselors Study for CAC Exam!
Our five Health Access Counselors are studying for their annual certification as application counselors in the health insurance marketplace. They are prepping for the open enrollment period that begins Nov. 15th. Note that three of our Counselors are fluent in Spanish!

If you would like our Health Access Counselors to come to your practice to enroll your uninsured patients into the insurance marketplace, contact Sheri Atkins at sheri@mywcms.org. We serve the 16 westernmost counties of NC.

Photo: From left to right: Erin Burks (new employee), Sydney Idzikowski (new employee), Sheri Atkins (sadly hidden from view, but our veteran Project Access employee), Shaneka Simmons, and Jose Armando Lopez.
Health Insurance Costs Dent Bottom Line at Pardee  
"The FY2014 loss is attributable to skyrocketing employee health expense, a dip in inpatient admissions and federal government cuts, Kirby said."

Read full article
New Park Ridge Campus Opens  
"Jason Wells with Park Ridge says the new location will consolidate more than 20 healthcare providers under one roof and with that, the campus will offer extended hours to accommodate the schedules of working patients."

Continue reading.
Mission Hospital Building New Office in Sylva for Cancer Care Practice
"Dr. Michael Messino, a cancer specialist, will relocate his current practice from the Harris Regional Hospital campus to the new Mission facility. Messino founded the Cancer Care of WNC in 1990. There are nine physicians in the practice."

Read full article.
Franklin's Angel Medical Center Hosts 1st Residents   
"For the first time in Angel Medical Center's 91-year history, medical residents are training at the center. Five first-year family medicine residents from Mountain Area Health Education Center in Asheville will each spend a week in an Angel Primary Care practice under the preceptorship of family medicine physicians Lawson Hunley and Jason Creel."

Continue reading.

DHHS Realigning Medicaid to Strengthen Foundation, Position for Future   
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos, MD, addressed a letter to the NC Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee.  This letter provides an excellent overview of the actions DHHS has taken to build a foundation for a stronger NC Medicaid program. 

Read Secretary Wos' letter.

A few notes from Robin Cummings, MD, NC Medicaid Director:
"I also wanted to ensure you had the latest information on a significant undertaking: The first complete realignment of the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) since Medicaid was introduced to our state over 40 years ago. The new functional structure, outlined in the letter, will ensure DMA's capability to effectively deliver the services and supports necessary in today's health care environment and beyond.
We are proud of the strides the Department and DMA have made. I am excited about delivering an efficient, practical and sustainable Medicaid program that improves the health care for the people in this state.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the letter from Secretary Wos."

Medicare Gives First Glimpse of ACO Quality Performance     
"The CMS for the first time publicly released individual performance data for Medicare accountable care organizations on 33 measures of healthcare quality.

The results for 220 of the participants (PDF) in the Medicare Shared Savings Program reveal how ACOs performed on measures (PDF) of patient experience, preventive care and disease management for some of the leading causes of death among U.S. elderly, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes."

Read full article.

The Study You Never Heard of: Small Practices Aren't Dead Yet
"The study of over one thousand practices of various sizes and ownerships, conducted by some of the most respected names in health care, found that the smallest independent primary care practices, that are physician owned, provide better care at lower overall cost."

Read the full article from KevinMD.
Quotes from a New WCMS Member 
"I am a new member and I have already found tremendous value working with the Society.
  • Mission's plan to form ACO. I didn't even know what ACO meant. I contacted WCMS and they took a very impartial view, referring me to two doctors-one who enrolled and one who did not. I found this extremely valuable. I have decided not to sign up right now, but probably will in the future.
  • I was very close to deciding not to take Medicaid patients based on problems I was having with NC Tracks. I called the Medical Society and explained the situation. Something I had been struggling with for months was taken care of in a few weeks.
  • Communication is the best. Email, calls, newsletter is excellent. They have been very responsive to my needs and are unbiased in helping us.
I don't feel as "naked" out here as I did before becoming a member of the Society."

- from a WNC Physician
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Learn more about the Western Carolina Medical Society on this page. We would love to hear from you. Please contact us with any questions, comments or concerns you may have.   



Miriam Schwarz


Miriam Schwarz signature


Miriam Schwarz, MPA

WCMS CEO/Executive Director 
(828) 274-2267 ext. 312