In October 2019, KFF invited a group of journalists with a strong focus on health policy and state health reform to participate in a week-long fellowship focused on North Carolina’s health care landscape and the national implications of the state-level policy work there. Rural health, Medicaid reform and expansion, the uninsured, opioids, community care solutions, care coordination, homelessness, and value-based health plan design were themes throughout the week, as well as social and economic disparities.
The site visits in Raleigh, Durham, and Rocky Mount gave the journalists the opportunity to hear from a variety of experts and stakeholders, including: Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services; N.C. Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Winston-Salem); Opportunities Industrialization Center President and CEO Reuben Blackwell; Kathy Johnson, executive director at Oak City Cares; Gerald Petkau, Interim CEO, and senior management, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina; and Dr. Thomas Owens, president, Duke University Hospital, Duke University Health System, to name a few. A major theme throughout the week was community-level engagement and innovation. Meetings at the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services, Duke University Health System, North Carolina Rural Center, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina, Oak City Cares, and Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) in Rocky Mount provided reporters with context for covering health in North Carolina and nationwide.