Health

Ways to Connect

A surging demand for veterans’ health care is leading the VA to open a massive outpatient facility in Charlotte. The six-story complex opens Friday and offers primary care, mental health, pharmacy and some specialty care. It’s part of the VA’s push to modernize its services and decrease wait times.

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A state audit released Monday shows overpayments in North Carolina’s Medicaid program likely added up to $835 million last year. But Medicaid officials say when you factor in the size of North Carolina’s program, its error rate is lower than many other states.

Michael Tomsic

North Carolina is in the midst of a huge change to its Medicaid program, and state officials took their listening tour about it to the Charlotte area Thursday. In Huntersville and Monroe, they heard from patients, advocates and doctors.

http://www.ncdhhs.gov/

State health officials are holding public hearings in Monroe and Huntersville on Thursday on the plan to overhaul North Carolina Medicaid.

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Lowe’s home improvement company offers its employees an eye-catching benefit: certain major surgeries at prestigious hospitals are free of charge. Leaders of the Mooresville-based company are so happy with the program they’ve expanded it each of the past two years. They pull it off using a payment model that’s gaining steam across the health care industry - and that Lowe’s helped pioneer.

North Carolina’s Medicaid program is continuing a recent trend of meeting its budget or coming in under. The state health department is telling lawmakers this week the program was $181 million under budget as of December.

North Carolina’s dominant insurance company had even deeper losses on the Obamacare exchange last year. But BlueCross BlueShield’s overall business ended 2015 in better shape financially than the year before.

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Kaiser Health News

A few years ago, when a young woman delivered her baby at Alleghany Memorial Hospital in Sparta, North Carolina, it was in the middle of a Valentine’s Day ice storm and the mountain roads out of town were impassable. The delivery was routine, but the baby girl had trouble breathing because her lungs weren’t fully developed. Dr. Maureen Murphy, the family physician who delivered her that night, stayed in touch with the neonatal intensive care unit at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, a 90-minute drive away, to consult on treatment for the infant.

BlueCross BlueShield is apologizing to customers frustrated by bank account overdrafts and long waits on the phone last week. The problems affected a small percentage of customers in the individual market.

The individual market consists of people who buy insurance directly from an insurance company or on the Obamacare exchanges. BlueCross BlueShield caused about 3,200 of those customers to overdraw their bank accounts.

Brian Strickland / news.unchealthcare.org

Next week, UNC-Chapel Hill is launching a physician assistant program largely designed for military veterans. As the U.S. military’s drawdown plays out in a big way in North Carolina, the idea is to help troops with medical training turn their experience into jobs – and better health care.

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