Step Therapy: Legislative Committee Appointed to Study Practice in NC.
February 1, 2016  |  view this message in your web browser


2016 NCNS Annual Meeting
February 19-21  |  The Grandover Resort 

2016 NCNS Annual Meeting:   Registration Brochure  |  Online Registration

In this edition:

Legislative Outlook 2016

The 2016 session of the NC General Assembly will be the biennium’s “short session.” The legislature will convene on April 25. Items that are eligible for consideration include budgetary legislation and bills passed by one chamber in the 2015 session. Many details remain to be decided regarding NC Medicaid’s transition from fee-for-service to a new, value-based model. As such, implementation of Medicaid reform will be foremost among the issues of interest and concern to neurologists during the upcoming year.

Step therapy will continue to be the focus of a new House Select Committee leading up to the 2016 session. In 2015, a bill was introduced by Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) to regulate the practice by requiring insurers to develop evidence-based protocols that include endorsement by an independent panel of experts. The bill was introduced in April 2015 and referred to the House Rules Committee. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) appointed a 15-member committee to study step therapy practice in North Carolina.

The topics of greatest interest to neurologists that were considered by the NC General Assembly last year included Medicaid reform legislation, a bill to amend the state’s CBD oil statute and a new requirement that medical examiners receive training regarding sudden unexplained death in epilepsy during medicolegal death investigations.

Legalization/decriminalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use is a hot topic in North Carolina and throughout the United States. Don’t miss Dr. Matthew Wong’s presentation, “Medical Marijuana” at the upcoming NCNS Annual Meeting, February 19-21, in Greensboro.

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BCBSNC Creates Escalation Process for Physicians to Verify Patient Eligibility

Reprinted with permission from the NC Medical Society.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) continues to cope with huge customer service demands from individuals who are trying to straighten out their coverage and from physicians seeking to confirm coverage and provide services. Upon learning that physicians and other providers have been unable to access information from BCBSNC to verify eligibility, BCBSNC has coordinated with NCMS and NCMGMA to create a temporary, streamlined process to ensure patients with BCBSNC coverage receive timely care. Continue to the NCMS website for a description of the steps.

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NCNS 2016 Annual Meeting, Feb. 19-21 in Greensboro, NC

Session topics to include:

Adult and Pediatric Epilepsy
Stroke in Young Adults
Whole Exome Sequencing
Minimally Invasive Laser Ablation
Brain MRI in the First Year of Life
Multiple Sclerosis
Spine Pathophysiology
Non-sports Related TBI
Somatoform Disorders
Resident Posters 
And more!

Earn up to 10 CMEs!

Earn an additional hour of CME credit! An optional reception and CME program presented by Rockpointe will take place on Saturday following the NCNS session. Register for “Addressing Challenging Cases in the Management of DMD Therapy for MS” at or call (443) 909-7907.

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New CME Requirement – Controlled Substance Prescribing

The state is taking steps to combat the harmful and rippling effects of prescription drug abuse. In follow-up to a provision in last year’s budget bill establishing the requirement that all NC Medical Board licensees must complete at least one hour of continuing education annually regarding controlled substance prescribing, the NC Medical Board recently met to discuss implementation. The requirement takes effect in 2017. We’ll keep you posted as progress is made toward full implementation.

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Thanks Doc! Nominations for NC Doctor of the Year Award Open Feb. 1

Beginning today, February 1, North Carolinians are invited to nominate physicians for the 2016 NC Doctor of the Year Award. The Award is presented to the physician who garners the most online votes by March 30, and comes with a $5,000 check to be used to further a professional cause or project to help their community. Explore the website, like NC Doctors’ Day on Facebook, and follow the hoopla on Twitter using the #thxdocnc hashtag.

National Doctors' Day is on March 30. This is the second year that NC Doctors' Day is shining a light on our state’s great doctors and grateful patients. Last year’s winner was Dr. Gloria Graham (Morehead City), a dermatologist who has been practicing for over 50 years.

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Can Apple Watch Detect Onset of Epileptic Seizures? Or Monitor PD Symptoms?

AppleInsider reports that Duke University and Duke Medicine are among several world-renowned medical research institutions engaged in amazing new research thanks to Apple’s ResearchKit for iPhone and Apple Watch. Duke University and Duke Medicine are using the ResearchKit for its “Autism & Beyond” mobile app that automates the screening of children for autism and anxiety through video technology.

The promising “EpiWatch” app being developed at Johns Hopkins University will make monitoring of seizure triggers and events and data collection easier than ever. And it will also send an alert to family and caregivers. "Epilepsy impacts over 2 million people in the United States. This new app, designed using ResearchKit, provides patients with interactive activities that help them manage their condition now, and opens the door to developing an app that can detect various seizure types and alert family and caregivers," says Gregory Krauss, M.D., Professor of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "Now we have the opportunity to use technology to monitor seizures across the country and collect data in a totally new way." (from AppleInsider, “Apple partners with hospitals for new ResearchKit studies on autism, epilepsy, melanoma.”)

The new technology could also be used to monitor participant’s Parkinson’s Disease symptoms. According to AppleInsider, “Apps can also tap into the device's accelerometer, microphone, gyroscope, and GPS sensors to deliver additional information about a person's gait, motor impairment, fitness, speech, as well as their memory.”

Oregon Health and Science University is working on an iPhone app that will allow research participants to document the size and shape of moles using the iPhone’s camera and share that information with their physicians. Ultimately, the hope is to create detection algorithms to screen for melanoma.

ResearchKit is an open source software framework designed specifically for the medical research field. It is intended to help medical researchers and developers create apps that make medical research easier, allowing researchers to collect data in real-time from more study participants that ever before and from around the country. Learn more on the Apple website.

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Federal Legislative Update from the AAN

  • Congressional Committee to Shine Spotlight on Concussion: The House Energy and Commerce Committee plans to hold a series of hearings in the New Year to undertake a comprehensive review of the causes, effects, and treatments of concussions. The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has offered resources and potential witnesses for the committee’s consideration.
  • Telestroke Legislation Gains Momentum: Medicare currently only reimburses for telestroke consultations in rural areas. The AAN, working jointly with the American Stroke Association, has had legislation introduced in the House to expand this coverage regardless of location. As a result of these efforts this legislation was incorporated into a pending telehealth package developed by a group of bipartisan Senators led by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and was included in the small list of potential changes being considered to improve care for chronic conditions by the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Medicare Primary Care Bonus Expires: Between 2010 and 2014 the Medicare Primary Care Bonus or the Medicaid bump has been a top issue for the AAN. Both programs were time limited. The Medicaid bump expired at the beginning of 2015 and last week the Medicare bonus expired.

Stay up to date on AAN advocacy by reading the Capitol Hill Report.

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AAN 2016 Annual Meeting, April 15-21

The AAN invites you to experience the all-new Annual Meeting. Registration is now open for the innovative new AAN Annual Meeting, set to take place Friday, April 15, through Thursday, April 21, 2016, at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Learn more at

Key Dates

  • Hotel Deadline: February 24, 2016
  • Early Registration Ends: March 24, 2016

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This publication is a service of the North Carolina Neurological Society (NCNS)
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