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State Government
NC Medicaid Updates Policies to Address COVID-19 PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 12 March 2020 07:56
NC Medicaid is implementing several policy changes in response to COVID-19 to slow the spread of the virus, support healthcare providers and protect more vulnerable North Carolinians. The policies, which will go into effect March 13, address pharmacy benefits, supplies and access to care and are designed to facilitate access for patients experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and to limit close contact for routine care, particularly for those at higher risk of severe illness. 
People at higher risk of severe illness are adults over 65 years of age, those with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, and people with weakened immune systems.
Policy updates include:
Supporting Access to Care
Home Visits. Medicaid has existing clinical policies to reimburse for home visits. Providers are encouraged to conduct home visits, especially for vulnerable populations and group living. 
Co-pays. Providers are reminded that co-pays are not required at the time of the office visit; a Medicaid patient should never be turned away for inability to pay a co-pay. 
Virtual Consultation. Providers will be able to bill Medicaid for evaluations provided virtually by telephone for established patients who: 
Are actively experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) or to assess prior to going to the emergency department, urgent care or other health care facility.
Need routine, uncomplicated follow up and who are not currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Would benefit from behavioral health assessment and management.
Limiting In-Person Pharmacy Interactions
Supply Quantity. Medicaid beneficiaries will be able to access longer supply of prescribed medicine. 
Beneficiaries will be allowed to obtain a 90-supply of prescribed medicine, excluding controlled substances, for both generic and brand-name drugs. NC Medicaid has removed the 30-day wait requirement to qualify for a 90-day supply.
Early refills will be allowed to coordinate care. 
Beneficiaries can receive an extended 14-day emergency supply of medicines that require a prior authorization (up from a 3-day supply).
Providers are encouraged to write prescriptions for a 90-day supply and pharmacies are encouraged to fill 90 day supplies whenever possible
Access to Needed Medicines. NC Medicaid will be tracking pharmaceutical supplies to respond quickly to modify the Preferred Drug List for Medicaid as needed.
Accessing Medical Supplies 
Providers of medical equipment and supplies may be reimbursed for providing masks to ill patients who require frequent transportation or attend public places for treatment such as dialysis.
Providers will not need prior authorization in order to initiate new orders for oxygen and related respiratory supplies.
If medically necessary, oxygen equipment and supplies, respiratory assist devices, CPAPs and ventilators that typically require prior authorization may be provided to beneficiaries without first seeking prior authorization.
These new Medicaid policies will go into effect March 13. Additional details and guidance will be available online at www.medicaid.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus. 
Last Updated on Thursday, 12 March 2020 07:58
Broome Out...Watkins In At SEANC PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 11 March 2020 10:40

The State Employees Association of North Carolina announced today the hiring of Ardis Watkins as the organization’s first female Executive Director in its 73-year history.

Watkins has worked as a lobbyist and Director of Government Relations for SEANC since January 2001, and worked at the N.C. Department of Labor as the Director of Employment Mediation for eight years prior to joining the SEANC staff.

She is well-known at the legislature and in the field as a strong voice for state employees and retirees. Under her leadership, SEANC lobbied legislators to pass the first-in-the-nation $15 minimum wage for state employees in 2018, and her efforts to secure pay raises and funding for the retirement system and State Health Plan have bettered the lives of many working families in the state

“No one knows SEANC and our issues better than Ardis Watkins,” said President Jimmy Davis. “She is a tireless advocate for our members. We look forward to her leadership of the organization and have high expectations for her.”

“SEANC is my home, and I am excited to take on this challenge,” Watkins said. “I look forward to leading our staff of determined professionals who care deeply about this organization’s mission as well.”

SEANC is the South’s leading state employees’ association, with 46,000 members, and is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. SEANC has members in all 100 counties across every function of state government


Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 March 2020 10:56
Individual From Indiana Confirmed with COVID-19 Traveled to North Carolina PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Tuesday, 10 March 2020 07:50
The Indiana State Department of Health notified North Carolina officials that a person who tested positive for COVID-19 on March 8 was in Durham and Wake counties on March 2 through March 6 while symptomatic. The person is in isolation at home in Indiana. 
The Durham County Department of Public Health and the Wake County Public Health Division will work to identify close contacts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a person with a COVID-19 infection for a prolonged period of time of 10 minutes or longer. Based on information provided by the individual, county health leaders will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine and/or testing.
Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, North Carolinians should take the same measures that health care providers recommend to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses, including washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, staying home if you are sick and covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow. 
The CDC defines risk categories for exposure during contact investigations of confirmed cases as follows: 
Risk Level Exposures Identified through Contact Investigation
High Living in the same household as, being an intimate partner of, or providing care in a nonhealthcare setting (such as a home) for a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection without using recommended precautions for home care and home isolation.
(assumes no exposures in the high-risk category) Close contact with a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19
On an aircraft, being seated within 6 feet (two meters) of a traveler with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection; this distance correlates approximately with 2 seats in each direction
Living in the same household as, an intimate partner of, or caring for a person in a nonhealthcare setting (such as a home) to a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection while consistently using recommended precautions for home care and home isolation
North Carolina Identifies Second Case of COVID-19 PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Friday, 06 March 2020 10:31
A second North Carolina person, unrelated to the first case, has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The test, conducted by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, is presumptively positive and will be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab. The person is doing well and is in isolation at home.
A North Carolina man from Chatham County traveled in late February to an area in Italy that now has a COVID-19 outbreak. He had two days of mild, flu-like symptoms while in Italy. His fever resolved and symptoms were improving, and he flew back to the United States the following day. This person was a contact to a case in Georgia and the Georgia Department of Health notified North Carolina health officials.  
Chatham County Public Health Department officials conducted a home visit and collected specimens, which came back presumptively positive last night. He has been cooperative and is in home isolation until follow-up tests are negative. The Chatham County Public Health Department will work to identify close contacts to monitor symptoms. Since the person had been symptomatic before travel, the CDC will identify close contacts on the flight thought to be at risk and notify the appropriate public health agencies. To protect individual privacy, no further information about the identity of the person will be released. 
While awaiting confirmation of results from the CDC, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will treat presumptive cases as positive and follow CDC guidelines to protect public health and limit the spread of infection. 
COVID-19 is currently not widespread in North Carolina. Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, North Carolinians should take the same measures that health care providers recommend to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses, including washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and covering coughs and sneezes. 
Last month, Governor Roy Cooper established the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force to support the state’s ongoing effort to monitor, prepare for and respond to COVID-19. State actions include: 
Proactively launched cross-agency preparation work in January, putting together an aggressive containment strategy of rapid identification of suspected cases, testing and contact tracing.
Began testing cases at the NC State Laboratory of Public Health, which allows for faster results and a faster response.
Monitoring travelers returning from China through local health departments.
Preparation and Ongoing Response
Formalized preparation and response work with Governor Cooper creating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force.
Developing detailed response plans for a range of scenarios.
Engaged in regular communication with federal, state and local partners.
Preparing health care providers and facilities to streamline and standardize response activities including regular calls and mobilizing resources.
Sharing and updating guidelines on how to proactively prepare and respond, including guidelines for health care providers, child care, employers, schools, colleges and universities and others.
Public Information
Activated a Joint Information Center to provide timely information.
Maintaining an up-to-date website with information about COVID-19 disease, risk and guidance.
Staffing a COVID-19 phone line to answer urgent questions from the public. 
North Carolinians with questions or concerns about COVID-19 can call the COVID-19 phone line toll-free at 866-462-3821. This helpline is staffed by the North Carolina Poison Control 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
It is important to make sure the information you are getting about COVID-19 is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS. 
For more information, please visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and NCDHHS’ website at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus, which will also include future positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.
Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2020 10:32

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