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  Community Pulse - February 2017


In This Issue:
Ad (left): WCMS 2016-17 Blue Books Available to Order
New Members to WCMS
Message from the Foundation Board Chair Dr. Britt Peterson
Physicians' Voice in the News
WCMS' Fourth Quarter Strategic Plan Update
N.C. School-Based Telehealth Program Grows Into National Model
N.C. Medicaid Drops Provider Rate Cut
Public Health Alert for Providers from BCHHS
Drug Distributors Penalized For Turning Blind Eye In Opioid Epidemic
WCMS Job Board
Attention Doctors:

Do you enjoy your monthly Community Pulse? Did you know that if you become a member you can get even more critical, time-sensitive information sent to you weekly right to your inbox? Information such as our calendar of educational and networking events,  how to take action to address reimbursement cuts, important new bills introduced into the NCGA, public health alerts, advice on how to get paid in your practice, new ACO developments, how to address burnout, updates on philanthropic and innovative physician programs in WNC, and how to improve quality in your practice? 

Sign up today to become a member. Don't miss out on critical information that will help drive your professional decisions.

New Members to WCMS
Click here to view the newest physicians to join WCMS!  

Message from the Foundation Board Chair Dr. Britt Peterson

These are not times of stability for us in the world of health care. Whether or not you were supportive of the Affordable Care Act, there is clearly an effort in Washington to change course. As we have yet to see what replacement strategy/plan will arise out of the ashes of the ACA, it is unclear what the new lay of the land in the healthcare world will be once the legislative process in the current US Congress is all said and done.  
Click here to continue reading. 
Physicians' Voice in the News
WCMS is proud to announce another high quality addition to the series of
"The Physicians' Voice," a series of media presentations for the general public that showcase physicians' world-class medical expertise and focus on patient/community health.

E. Blake Fagan is a family physician and the chief education officer at the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC). He received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University and is a graduate of MAHEC's Family Medicine Residency Program in Asheville. He is a Western Carolina Medical Society board member. The article is titled: "Providers and the Community Response to Opioids."

Excerpt: Many individuals and organizations in WNC have been responding to this issue for years, but now there are collective, region-wide responses to this crisis. For example, The Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services is leading an effort to build a coalition of providers in Buncombe County, including community clinics and the hospital, to tackle this problem. VAYA Health (formerly Smoky Mountain LME), a regional health organization helping those with behavioral health and intellectual or development disabilities, is leading the effort to build a regional coalition to attack this problem for the 23 westernmost counties. There are many other individual efforts - too numerous to mention all of them in this short article - underway in hospitals, clinics and practices across WNC to address the opioid crisis.
Click here to continue reading.
WCMS' Fourth Quarter Strategic Plan Update
Click here to view details on our progress with the 2016 Strategic Plan. For a summary of 2016 in numbers, check out this quick overview. Our 2017 strategic plan can be found here. Now you know everything about your medical society's goals and achievements!
N.C. School-Based Telehealth Program Grows Into National Model - WCMS Member Dr. Steve North Quoted
The program's founder and medical director, Steve North, M.D., made the transition from schoolteacher to primary care physician to telehealth program executive. Here is his story: In the 1990s North was a Teach for America corps member in rural North Carolina. He remembers seeing a student who had come to school after stepping on a nail. He couldn't concentrate on his schoolwork, and the parents had trouble getting him to a provider because they had one car and both worked two jobs. At about the same time he read a book by Joy Dryfoos called "Full Service Schools," about the idea of school-based healthcare.
Click here to read the full article.

N.C. Medicaid Drops Provider Rate Cut
Due to the ongoing advocacy effort of a coalition of state medical societies, N.C. Medicaid has abandoned a rate cut that has been pending since Jan. 1, 2015. NCMS estimates that approximately $28 million in physician payments have been preserved.
You may recall that the General Assembly approved a 1 percent rate reduction in late 2014. The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) opposed the cut in the legislature and continued working to prevent its implementation while under review by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). NCMS teamed up with the NC Pediatric Society and the NC Academy of Family Physicians to show CMS the cut's potential negative impact on the ability of Medicaid patients to access care.

Now more than two years later, NC Medicaid is no longer seeking approval from CMS for the 1 percent cut, and the reduction will not be implemented now or retroactively. Had the cut been applied, physicians would have been required to repay 1 percent of their Medicaid payments from the last two years. Beyond the lost revenue, the recoupment effort likely would have affected cash flow and business operations for many Medicaid practices.

Read the memo updating the State Plan Manual with this change.
Public Health Alert for Providers from BCHHS: Increase in Reports of Varicella (Chickenpox) Illness 
Buncombe County Health and Human Services recently has seen an increase in varicella cases in some local schools. While varicella is not a reportable disease, outbreaks are common and we work with school nurses and school administrators to prevent further spread, especially to vulnerable populations.
Click here to view full press release.

Drug Distributors Penalized For Turning Blind Eye In Opioid Epidemic
As the toll of the opioid epidemic grows, scores of doctors have lost their licenses and some have gone to prison. Pharmacies are being sued and shuttered. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are under investigation and face new rules from regulators.
Click here to continue reading.

Job Board

Click here to see the latest jobs posted on our website. 


To find out how you can post a Job or Classified Ad, click here.

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