Plus, photos from the NCNS 2016 Annual Meeting.
April 22, 2016
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PO Box 27167
Raleigh, NC 27611
Tel: (919) 833-3836
Fax: (919) 833-2023

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In this edition:

NCNS Welcomes New Officers

The North Carolina Neurological Society (NCNS) is pleased to announce the election of Dr. Annette Grefe (Winston-Salem) to President of the NCNS, Dr. Robert Frere (Greenville) to President-Elect, and Dr. Gaurang Palikh (Shelby) to Secretary-Treasurer. Dr. William Ferrell (Raleigh) will continue his service on the NCNS Executive Committee as Immediate Past President. The NCNS thanks Dr. Ferrell for his leadership and support, which has helped to position our organization for growth and continued success. Dr. Robert Yapundich (Hickory) will continue in the role of Annual Meeting Program Chair.

From Left: Annette Grefe, Robert Frere, Gaurang Palikh

From Left: William Ferrell, Robert Yapundich

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Legislative Study Committee Proposes Step Therapy Legislation

An NC House study committee investigating step therapy (“fail first”) pharmaceutical coverage policies adopted a report this week which includes a bill for consideration in this year’s legislative session. The report recommends that step therapy protocols be amended to ensure proper administration and consistency with clinical practice guidelines and also recommends removing barriers to abuse-deterrent opioids. The NC General Assembly reconvenes on April 25.

The House Select Committee on Step Therapy was appointed to study the issue during the interim period between the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions. At a recent meeting, Dr. John Scagnelli, neurologist and MS specialist at Raleigh Neurology, testified before the committee on how step therapy restrictions can negatively impact the care of MS patients. Other specialties to testify included dermatology and rheumatology.

The report also takes aim at the growing opioid abuse epidemic by recommending that patients be granted access to opioids formulated with new abuse-deterrent technologies. The study committee report concludes that access to these products should be increased, consistent with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s labeling of such as a national priority. In related news, the NC Medical Board recently announced a new program to monitor opioid prescribing in the state.

Copies of meeting agendas and presentations to the committee, as well as the committee’s findings, recommendations and bill language, are available on the committee website. For materials related to this week’s proceedings, April 19, 2016, see the folder dated online as 4.19.15.

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NC DHHS Wraps Up Listening Tour on Medicaid Reform

The details of the state’s draft Section 1115 Waiver Application was presented to a legislative oversight committee on March 1 and a subsequent statewide listening tour provided opportunities for public comment. The NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) held a series of public hearings across the state this month to share the details with the public and gather feedback before its final report is presented to the legislature.

Many physicians participated in the hearings, expressing their concerns with the state’s implementation plan. The NCMS has summarized the waiver application and offers these talking points on the topics of concern to the physician community. The waiver application is due to CMS on June 1.

For additional coverage, see: “Legislative Round-Up: Short Session Begins Monday” (NCMS Bulletin, April 20, 2016)

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NCNS Members Meet with Congressional Delegation in DC

A nine-member delegation representing the North Carolina Neurological Society participating in the AAN’s Neurology on the Hill (NOH), February 28 – March 1, 2016, was recognized in Rep. Virginia Foxx’s recent constituent newsletter. The annual advocacy event is an opportunity for neurologists to discuss priority federal legislative issues with members of the U.S. Congress. Key issues addressed this year included expanding coverage of stroke telemedicine, supporting research for neurologic disease, and reforming Meaningful Use.

  • HR 2799, the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine Act (FAST Act), now has 87 cosponsors, including North Carolina Reps. Renee Ellmers and Richard Hudson, and has been included as part of several other larger telemedicine bills. This Neurology on the Hill priority has a good chance of passing before the end of 2016.
  • Another top priority at Neurology on the Hill was gathering congressional support for the BRAIN Initiative. A letter signed by 55 US House members and two Senate members was sent to members of the Appropriations Committee, which will determine funding levels for 2017.
  • The Senate HELP Committee has passed 19 bills in an effort to create legislation similar to the House passed 21st Century Cures Act. One of the key provisions is the Neurosurveillance Act, which will give the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the ability to better track incidents of neurological disease in hopes of finding trends and patterns.

NOH is a two-day advocacy event held annually in Washington, DC. The program schedule includes in-depth legislative and political training sessions. Topics covered include Civics 101, key legislative updates, featured speakers, and review of the priority issues to convey to Congress. On Day 2, participants head to Capitol Hill for scheduled meeting with their U.S. Representatives and Senators. Applications to participate in the 2017 NOH, scheduled for February 27-28, will be available in October 2016.

2016 NOH Delegation:

  • Carlene Kingston, MD (Charlotte)
  • Gaurang M. Palikh, MD (Shelby)
  • Ihtsham Haq, MD (Winston-Salem)
  • Jane Boggs, MD (Winston-Salem)
  • Paul Szwejbka, MD (Fayetteville)
  • Philip Aaron Davenport, MD (Raleigh)
  • Urvi G. Desai, MD (Matthews)
  • Robert A. Yapundich, MD, FAAN (Hickory)
  • W. Alan Skipper, CAE (Raleigh)

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NCNS 2016 Annual Meeting Wrap Up

Save the date!
2017 Annual Meeting
February 17-19
Pinehurst Resort

A good time was had by all at the 2016 NCNS Annual Meeting. The meeting was held February 19-21 in Greensboro. More than 90 physicians and allied professionals attended the meeting, which included 10 hours of CME programming, social and networking opportunities, a lively exhibit hall and the student and resident poster competition. NCNS leaders also revealed the Society’s new logo at the Business Meeting.

The annual poster competition featured seven student and resident posters. Dr. Santoshi Billakota (Duke) walked away with first place recognition for her poster, “Utility of Continuous EEG Monitoring in Non-critically Ill Hospitalized Patients.” The second and third place winners were, Dr. Liliana Banari (WFU) with “A case of cat scratch encephalitis in a 5 year old boy treated with plasmapheresis” and Dr. Suma Das (Duke) with “Mycoplasma Encephalitis.

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AlzNC invites participation in their Annual “Stand By Me” Tournament

North Carolina neurologists, practice staff and friends are invited to participate in the 2016 Stand By Me Golf Tournament hosted by Alzheimer’s North Carolina (AlzNC). This annual event helps AlzNC meet its mission of education, family services, advocacy and Research on behalf of the 170,000 individuals in North Carolina with Alzheimer’s disease.

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Brain Injury Awareness & Events

Governor Pat McCrory proclaimed March as “Brain Injury Awareness Month” in North Carolina. Gov. McCrory hosted advocates from the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina (BIANC), survivors of brain injuries and families at the Executive Mansion on March 22, to raise awareness of brain injuries in North Carolina. The proclamation highlights the prevalence of brain injuries due to falls, car crashes, assaults, military service, and sports. More than 200,000 people in North Carolina are living with the effects of a brain injury.

“A traumatic brain injury can happen to anyone at any time,” said Governor McCrory. “We need to be sure people are aware of how to protect their brains, while supporting all those impacted by a brain injury.”

Upcoming BIANC Events

  • May 27 - BIANC, along with The Winston-Salem Foundation and Wake Forest Baptist Health, will host a one-day workshop for caregivers, families, and professionals involved in the lifetime planning process for survivors of brain injury. “Into the Future – Options and Resources for Long-Term Planning” will be held on May 27, from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, at the Wake Forest Baptist Health – Sticht Center, in Winston-Salem.
  • April 30 - The Statewide Walk and Roll-athon, presented by BIANC, serves to honor survivors, families, and friends by raising much-needed funds and awareness about brain injury. The Walk will have live music, great food, display booths, and activities for the whole family! This event will be held on April 30, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, at the Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary.
  • April 22 - In Greenville on April 22, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, check out “Brushes for Brains,” a wine and design event benefiting BIANC.

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Quality Improvement Workshop Prevention & Wellness, May 11

The North Carolina Medical Society Foundation, in cooperation with the National Rural Accountable Care Consortium and CHESS, invites you to join us to kick off the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative and learn about services you can provide to your patients to promote health and wellness. By providing these services, you will improve community health, increase practice revenue and improve quality scores. At the end of the workshop you will have an individual work plan to incorporate these services into your primary care practice.

This is part of the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative (TCPI). The workshop is open to Practice Managers, Care Coordinators, Physicians & Nurses (must be enrolled in TCPI by May 6, 2016).

For more information and registration, contact Dana Lucas,, 919-833-3836.

The registration deadline is May 6.

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July 1 Deadline for Meaningful Use Hardship Exemption Applications

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended the deadline for physicians seeking to apply for the “blanket” hardship exemption from 2015 Meaningful Use requirements to July 1, 2016. All eligible professionals applying for this exemption must complete an application by the July 1 deadline. For instructions and the application, visit the CMS Payment Adjustments & Hardship Information webpage.

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Get the Facts on MACRA Webinar

If you are still uncertain what MACRA is all about, get the facts by downloading the recording of a recent webinar on MACRA hosted by NC Medical Society Director of Health Policy Jennifer Gasperini and sponsored by the NCMS Foundation and the NC Medical Group Managers Association (NCMGMA). This webinar reviews key elements of the recently passed Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), including how the current Medicare quality reporting programs will be affected by MACRA. Viewers will learn more about CMS' plans for Medicare reform and key timelines to consider in the implementation process.

To learn more about MACRA, NCMS members can visit the Quality Time with the NCMS blog. This blog is updated weekly with pertinent information about quality program changes and key news and deadlines to be aware of.

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