State Health Director Speaks to House of Delegates

Dr. Jeffrey P. Engel, M.D., North Carolina State Health Director, spoke to the NCMS House of Delegates this morning at the 156th Annual Meeting.  Dr. Engel stressed the important role NC physicians played in last year’s public health influenza vaccine campaign. Over 1.7 million North Carolinians received influenza vaccines last year.  

Dr. Engel also applauded the passage of the Clean Air law, making NorthCarolina one of only about 20 states with such comprehensive laws, and the only tobacco state with such a broad-reaching ban on smoking in public places.

As we move into a new biennium, the revenue picture is looking pretty bleak and Dr. Engel reports that his department has been asked to prepare for cuts of  $7.5, $15 or $20 million for the coming year.  Medicaid and other DHHS offices are also preparing to take deep cuts to programs and services. 

This will be a big budget year and this year’s NCMS Annual Meeting theme, “Get Your Ticket to the Future of Medicine” could not ring more true.  With Health System Reform in place the state is going to begin implementing many reforms. Specific to public health will be the expansion of preventative and wellness services. Most causes of death in North Carolina are due to alcohol, tobacco, poor nutrition and inactivity which result in heart disease, disability, etc.

Dr. Engel stresses that we must get serious about primary care and prevention in this state. The healthy choice should be the easy choice for families, including those on limited incomes and children in schools. Working with the NC IOM and Dr. Laura Gerald at the Health and Wellness Trust Fund, he is steering a committee to address prevention and health promotion in NC. 

By 2014, all health plans must provide first dollar coverage for US Preventative Task Force Recommendations rated A or B and all CDC recommended childhood vaccines without a co-pay or without cost to the patient.  This is very meaningful to the future of public health. 

There are more speakers and educational sessions to be held during this year’s NCMS Annual Meeting. Stay tuned for updates on these discussions.


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