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Last Updated: 7/24/20, 3:00 PM

The NCPA is working harder than ever to bring our members the most important, relevant, and up-to-date information and getting it to you through our daily email update and this webpage, which is continuously being updated.

These are unprecedented times. The NCPA remains committed to each of our nearly 1,000 members and we are here to assist you in any way we can. Thank you for your continued support. Together, we will get through this.

Disclaimer: Because this is such a rapidly evolving situation, please keep in mind that some information may be outdated by the time you read it. We are doing our best to update the document as quickly as possible.

Quicklinks:

NC DHHS
NC Medicaid CMS / Medicare
Commercial Insurance Telespsychiatry Special Populations
Behavioral Health Issues NC Medical Board  APA Resources
School Guidance  Professional Association Partners News History

 

General COVID-19 Resources

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NCDHHS

NC Department of Health & Human Services (NCDHHS) - This is the most timely, credible, and comprehensive website for all COVID-19 updates related to North Carolina.

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NC Medicaid 

Effective March 30, 2020, NC DHHS is temporarily modifying enhanced behavioral health policies and telemedicine and telepsychiatry policies to better enable the delivery of remote care to Medicaid and state-funded beneficiaries during the COVID-19 outbreak. This will include dates of service on or after March 10, 2020 and will remain in effect until the State of Emergency is declared over or when this policy is rescinded. 

Resources:

LME-MCOs:

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CMS/Medicare 

Effective March 6, CMS announced expanded access to telehealth services and has waived certain requirements for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. Click here to read the full CMS memo and visit the agency's Current Emergencies Website for updates. 

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Commercial Insurance

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Telepsychiatry: Guidance & Considerations 

NC Specific Policies:

Telepsychiatry Resources:

The most important considerations are to think about how you will treat your patients. Consider setting up your own clinical protocols for each patient's appropriateness/ability for using telehealth visits, ensuring patient safety (starting visits with documentation of immediate alternate contact information for both patient, provider, and patient emergency contact), and ensuring patient privacy (i.e., no spouses wandering by your desk during a session). Putting these considerations in writing is the beginning of a Policy & Procedure process that will be helpful.
 
Research and procure a HIPAA-compliant video platform that you and your patients can use for visits. This article may be helpful, as it includes a couple of suggestions for platforms that are free or low cost for solo practitioners. Again, in this current national emergency, usual standards for using HIPAA-compliant platforms are no longer in place for most, if not all, carriers. Some carriers are paying for telephone sessions with patients as if they were face-to-face office visits. The urgency of the need for patient care is temporarily overriding traditional standards. NCPA is updating the commercial carrier information on insurance coverage for telehealth as we learn it. Please see the Insurance section above for links to their websites.

Special Populations

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Behavioral Health Issues: Addressing Anxiety, Fear, Trauma & Stigma

NCDHHS is asking all MH/SUD providers to reach out to patients proactively to calm and reassure them. Please strongly discourage asymptomatic people from going to the EDs. Use the resources below for tips on how to communicate with patients about anxiety and stress during times of crisis.

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NC Medical Board 

NC Medical Board COVID-19 website with numerous resources, FAQs regarding licensing, and other helpful information.

The NC Medical Board (NCMB) and the NC Rules Review Commission have approved emergency rules allowing a physician or PA who retired or inactivated his or her NC medical license within the past 24 months to quickly obtain a temporary license to support Governor Cooper's declaration of a state of emergency due to COVID-19. The license would authorize the physician or PA to practice for 90 days or until the state of emergency in North Carolina is declared over. Click here to read the emergency rules, and visit the NCMB website for current information. 

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APA Resources

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School Guidance

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Collaboration With Other Medical & Mental Health Professional Associations

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News History

This section will be a log of all “Most Recent News” updates posted daily at the beginning of this guide. NCPA will also file all relevant updates within the appropriate category above. 

July 21, 2020

The CDC has updated its guidance on the duration of isolation for those testing positive for COVID-19

July 8, 2020

NCDHHS has issued significant new guidance regarding COVID-19 testing:

June 19, 2020

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is extending its expanded reimbursement policy for doctor visits by video or phone through the end of the year and will continue to cover these telehealth visits the same as face-to-face visits. Click here for press release.

 

June 18, 2020

NC DHHS “Strong Schools NC Toolkit”  (Interim guidance for schools and COVID-19 safety) 

 

June 11, 2020

 

May 19, 2020

Legislature extends some NCHIE deadlines to October 2021.

 

April 24, 2020

Presentation: “Caring for Yourself & Others During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Managing Healthcare Workers’ Stress” - Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare - Compassion in Action Webinar Series (March 24, 2020). This presentation includes important information at the Stress First Aid (SFA) Model, a self-care and peer support model developed for those in high-risk occupations like healthcare. It includes seven actions that will help you to identify and address early signs of stress reactions in yourself and others in an ongoing way (not just after “critical incidents”).

 

March 28, 2020

 

March 20, 2020

DHHS released a letter to LME/MCOs outlining broad flexibilities regarding funding, administrative barriers, release of 15% LME Medicaid reserves, and releasing $30M more to the LMEs for providers.  
 
New Medicaid Telehealth and Telepsychiatry expansion will go live Monday, March 23. The temporary policy will pay for telehealth at parity with in-office visits, removes “site” restrictions, loosens HIPAA restrictions related to technology, and allows licensed mental health professionals to provide telehealth care. Here is the link to the Medicaid Bulletin page where this new policy will be posted.