Medicaid in North Carolina: COVID-19, Disparities, and Opportunities for Transformation


COVID-19 Response

Medicaid in North Carolina: COVID-19, Disparities, and Opportunities for Transformation

March 23, 2021 — 10:00AM–12:00PM


A team of clinicians and health services researchers from Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, and Boston University sought to understand how, during the COVID-19 pandemic and before North Carolina’s Medicaid transformation, Medicaid coverage affects access to care and health outcomes for low income, underserved North Carolinians using North Carolina Medicaid claims data. Three distinct sub-projects focused on: 1) behavioral health-related service needs in advance of Medicaid transformation, 2) new enrollment to Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 3) changes in Medicaid coverage among Medicaid-insured children and adults. Through this town hall event, researchers, community groups, and health care stakeholders will engage in a discussion about how to use this research to inform policy change and design community-specific interventions to help reduce health inequities and improve health outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries. This project was funded by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

Featured Speakers:

  • Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, Director, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Duke University
  • Charlene Wong, MD, MSHP, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Core Faculty, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Duke University; Executive Director, North Carolina Integrated Care for Kids (NC InCK) Model
  • Susan Dentzer, Senior Policy Fellow, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy
  • Gary Maslow, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing, Duke University; Co-Chief, Division of Child and Family Mental Health and Community Psychiatry, Duke University
  • Paul Shafer, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Law, Policy and Management, Boston University; Fellow, Institute for Health System Innovation and Policy, Boston University
  • Rushina Cholera, MD, PhD, Fellow, National Clinician Scholars Program, Duke University Department of Pediatrics, Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy
Susan Dentzer

Our Moderator

Susan Dentzer is a Senior Policy Fellow at the Robert J. Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University. Dentzer is one of the nation's most respected health and health policy thought leaders and a frequent speaker and commentator on television and radio, including PBS and NPR, and an author of commentaries and analyses in print publications such as Modern Healthcare, NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine)-Catalyst, and the Annals of Internal Medicine. She was also the editor and lead author of the book Health Care Without Walls: A Roadmap for Reinventing U.S. Health Care, which is a comprehensive 2018 account of the potential to integrate more virtual care methods into US health care and examination of the obstacles to integrating virtual care methods. From 2016 to 2019, Dentzer was President and Chief Executive Officer of NEHI, the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization then composed of more than 80 stakeholder organizations from across all key sectors of health and health care.  From 2013 to 2016, she was senior policy adviser to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy focused on health and health care in the United States, and FROM 2008-2013 was the editor-in-chief of the policy journal Health Affairs. From 1998 to 2008, she was the on-air Health Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. Dentzer wrote and hosted the 2015 PBS documentary, Reinventing American Healthcare, focusing on the innovations pioneered by the Geisinger Health System and spread to health systems across the nation. Based in Washington, DC, where much of the Margolis Center’s research team is located, Susan focuses on aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic response; health system transformation, such as through telehealth; biopharmaceutical policy; health coverage expansion, and other key health policy issues.

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Selected Panelists

Yazmin Garcia Rico Picture

Yazmin Garcia Rico

Yazmin Garcia Rico, MSW, Director of Latinx and Hispanic Policy and Strategy, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

Yazmin has over ten years of experience focused on improving the life outcomes of the Latinx community in North Carolina. Throughout her career she has worked in the nonprofit and healthcare sector to advocate for the health and safety of immigrants, increase access to higher education for Latinx youth, and serving the uninsured and underserved populations. Prior to joining the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Yazmin worked at Cone Health supporting the creation of Alamance County Health Needs Assessment, serving vulnerable populations, and partnering with nonprofits to increase services and outreach to the Latinx community. She is a proud alumna of Guilford College and UNC’s School of Social Work, where she earned her MSW. 

Barbara-Ann Bybel Picture

Barbara-Ann Bybel

Barbara-Ann Bybel, DHA, MSN, NEA-BC, PMHNP-BC, Director of Psychiatric Services at UNC-Chapel Hill and WakeBrook

Barbara-Ann began her career in psychiatric nursing immediately following nursing school over 20 years ago as she had a strong desire to serve people with psychiatric and behavioral health needs. Barbara-Ann was previously employed for 12 years at New York Presbyterian Hospital before moving to North Carolina. As a staff nurse, Barbara-Ann worked for several years on various inpatient units, including geriatric, child, adolescent, eating disorders, substance abuse, affective disorders and personality disorders. While working mostly evenings and nights, she returned to school and earned my MSN in Psychiatric Nursing from Yale, after which she was promoted to Manager and then Director for the Second Chance Program; a 30-bed unit designed to treat the severely and persistently mentally ill. Barbara-Ann further pursued her education and earned a Doctor of Health Administration. Barbara-Ann currently serves as the Director of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including inpatient, outpatient operations at Chapel Hill and WakeBrook. She also serves on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) North Carolina State Board of Directors and represents Behavioral Health in the North Carolina Health Care Association. 

Carolyn Allison Picture

Carolyn Allison

Carolyn Allison, MPH, Chief Executive Officer, Charlotte Community Health Clinic, Inc.

Carolyn Allison has expertise in hospital administration and managed care, with over 15 years of CEO experience managing community health centers/federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). Carolyn is currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the Charlotte Community Health Clinic, Inc., a federally qualified health center which provides effective and efficient primary care, dental and behavioral health services for low-income underserved and uninsured individuals across the life span. Carolyn Allison also provides operational consultation to community health centers in multiple states. Carolyn is the proud recipient of The Network Journal Business Magazine-Top 25 Influential Black Women Award (national search) and is active in local, state, and federal health care coalitions and associations.

Sandra Wilkniss

Sandra Wilkniss

Sandra Wilkniss, PhD, Director of Complex Care Policy and Senior Fellow, Families USA

Sandra Wilkniss is the Director of Complex Care Policy and Senior Fellow at Families USA.  In this role, she leads efforts on prescription drug affordability and advancing the interests of consumers and families with complex care needs and behavioral health concerns. Prior to joining Families USA, she served as Program Director for Behavioral Health and Social Determinants of Health at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices.  There she focused on policies in behavioral health and social determinants of health, complex care populations, and the innovative integration of these into health system transformation efforts. Prior to joining NGA, Dr. Wilkniss worked on Capitol Hill for three years, first as an AAAS/APA fellow and then senior legislative assistant for health care to U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman (NM) and Martin Heinrich (NM). Before moving to Washington DC, she was the director of Thresholds Institute at Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers. She also held an adjunct assistant professorship at Dartmouth Medical School, an assistant clinical professorship at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and was chief psychologist of the inpatient psychiatry unit at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Wilkniss holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Virginia and a BS in Psychology from Princeton University.

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