June 8, 2020                                                COVID-19 SPECIAL EDITION
NC General Assembly Gears Up for Budget - Medicaid Transformation Bill Introduced  
"Because it is such a tight fiscal year, we're going to have to be very fiscally prudent, and any dollars we spend, we spend on absolutely necessary expenses," is a quote from NC Rep. Donny Lambeth in a May 26, 2020 article in the Raleigh News and Observer.
In addition to the typical budget items, the General Assembly continues to look at proposals to spend the approximately $1.9 billion in federal funding still available to address COVID-19. Two pieces of legislation have already been signed into law and several bills have been introduced to allocate the additional federal funding in areas such as remote learning and access to education, broadband access to the internet for rural communities, law enforcement and teacher protection, housing assistance, health care assistance and even funding directed to particular cities.

Medicaid Transformation Still on the Table
The Senate Appropriations Co-Chairs introduced   S808, Medicaid Transformation Necessities.   

From the Executive Director
Crisis is defined as "the turning point in an acute situation that has reached a critical phase."

For the past several months, we've been dealing with the coronavirus crisis, finding ways to conduct business in this "new normal," a phrase that's become increasingly wearisome. But the past 2 weeks are a painful reminder, and hopefully a call to action or at least to attention, of the longer-standing crisis of racial inequality in our country.
The i2i Center for Integrative Health joins with our stakeholders in sadness and anger over George Floyd's murder and Christian Cooper's targeted treatment, knowing that these men are only 2 of unknown numbers. We support the right of every citizen to legal and peaceful demonstration against systemic racism and senseless killings. We commit to seeking changes with our words and work, both individually and as an organization, to move us forward. We will do better.

Mary Hooper

Governor Addresses Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color  
NC Governor Roy Cooper issued  Executive Order 143 on June 4th addressing the racial disparities in the spread of COVID-19. The Executive Order notes among other things:

The Governor is establishing the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force. This task force will focus on:
  • Access to healthcare for underserved communities;
  • Enhanced patient engagement in healthcare settings;
  • Economic opportunities in business development and employment;
  • Environmental Justice and Inclusion;
  • Create educational opportunities for communities of color.

State Partnering to Slow COVID-19 and Provide New Tools to the Community    
NC DHHS recently announced that they have formed the Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative, a new partnership with Community Care of North Carolina and the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers to expand contact tracing.  According to the state contact tracing is the "process of supporting patients and notifying contacts of exposure in order to stop chains of transmission. Our local health departments are North Carolina's experts in this essential detective work. The new Collaborative will hire and train staff that will support local health departments' contact tracing efforts. This will allow North Carolina to meet the goal of doubling the number of contact tracers in the state to 500." 

Contact tracer recruitment is going on now. Interested applicants can visit the The Collaborative webpage.   S pecial consideration will be given to those who are unemployed, have community engagement experience and live in the communities that they will serve.

Information on Changes to Long-Term Care (LTC) Facilities Due to COVID-19    
by  Matthew Potter,  Advocate and Consultant at Community Bridges Consulting Group

Due to the continued pandemic, certain legal and regulatory changes around long-term care facilities (hospitals, group homes, mental health hospitals, etc.) have been made. It is important to remember that all of these changes are temporary, and are only happening because of COVID-19. The new rules are outlined in Executive Order 139

To summarize, Governor Cooper granted DHHS the authority to decide how to handle certain parts of this crisis. Secretary Cohen is allowed to waive or modify any rules in place for any LTC settings as long as they are meant to keep people safe and slow the spread of the pandemic. Possible changes include reduced visitation and increased testing for both residents and staff in those settings.

Addressing Individuals with I/DD and COVID-19 in Acute Care Settings 
i2i was proud to sign onto a letter with a number of I/DD supporting organizations on Allowing Direct Support Professionals To Accompany People with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities into a Hospital or Acute Care Setting.  

COVID-19 Delays Health Opportunities Pilot Program  
Due to the need for health and human service organizations to focus their available resources on the COVID-19 crisis, NC DHHS has announced the suspension of the start of the Healthy Opportunities Pilot program.  A new award date for the Lead Pilot Entities has not been determined.

The Healthy Opportunities Pilot Program would utilize Medicaid funds to pay for non-medical services related to food, housing, transportation and interpersonal safety for Medicaid consumers. The Lead Pilot Entities would serve as the mechanism for payers, providers and human service agencies to access the tools, infrastructure and financing to integrate these non-medical services into the delivery of care for Medicaid eligible individuals. Healthy Opportunities is part of the 1115 Medicaid Waiver.

Monarch Awarded $3.9M Federal Grant 
The Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced earlier this week that it will award Monarch an additional two-year, $3.9 million grant to continue expanding vital services for people with serious mental illness and substance use disorders through the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model in Stanly County. 

Read more

Free Webinar 
June 25, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
On the Horns of a Dilemma: Artificial Intelligence in Behavioral Health 
Suki Norris,  Senior Knowledge Engineer, Author of Facing Out
Artificial intelligence (AI) is all around us. It is in the cars we drive, the applications we use, and the information we get. The question is, how far should it go. This webinar will look at the use of AI in behavioral health, including automated diagnosing, virtual therapy, and whatever is next. Participants will learn about AI, the current applications of AI, and the plans for AI. The goal is to provide an understanding to allow you to participate as the next new thing becomes available. 

Leaning Objectives 1) History of AI 2) Provide a basic understanding of the uses of AI in Behavioral Health 3) Understand the choices that we all will have as AI advances.

Links of Interest

i2i News Briefs 

Past Issue Available 

 i2i Center 
Champion Supporters


  Shop on Amazon?  
Support i2i 
When You Buy!   

i2i has an 
AmazonSmile Account.   Use this link when you purchase from Amazon and the AmazonSmile foundation automatically donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the i2i Center

i2i Center for Integrative Health | | jean@i2icenter.org | http://www.i2icenter.org
1135 Kildaire Farm Road, Suite 200
Cary, NC 27511
(919) 657-0580