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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.

erikhuiberts / Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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.

The recently-named CEO of a planned mental health care program in Charlotte has resigned, after about one month on the job. The HopeWay Foundation says Daniel Brown stepped down December 10 to return to his previous employer, Albemarle-based behavioral health care provider Monarch. 

In a statement, Brown cited “family considerations” for his decision. HopeWay co-founder Bill Blue says the organization is resuming its search for a CEO.    

North Carolina is among about 17 states that have recently legalized a marijuana extract for the treatment of children with epilepsy. Amazing turnaround stories from parents and their kids have driven the change, but some in the medical community have cautioned there's yet to be a national study. Now, there is, and doctors found the treatment has great potential.

www.americashealthrankings.org/reports/annual

North Carolina showed the most improvement of any state in a major public health report released Thursday. But its ranking is still below average, like most of the South.

CMS.gov

Health insurance companies will pay North Carolinians $8.5 million in rebates. It's the latest round of payments required under Obamacare if insurers spend too much on profits or administrative costs.

Brian Strickland / news.unchealthcare.org

The name that UNC Health Care is giving a children's clinic in Raleigh has been raising a lot of eyebrows. It'd be called the Krispy Kreme Challenge Children's Specialty Clinic. But criticism from the medical community at UNC and elsewhere is making the health care system rethink that choice.

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