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HIEA Exemptions: An Update for Social Workers

Monday, March 23, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kay Castillo
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Contact: Kay Castillo, Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Legislation,


Extensions Granted to Licensed Independent Behavioral Health Providers


Background: Social workers who receive state funding for providing services must be connected to the state's Health Information Exchange Authority by June 1, 2020. These are providers who receive Medicaid funding or see clients on the State Health Plan. The previous deadline was June 1, 2019 but NASW-NC was successful in working with legislators and other behavioral health partners in the 2019 legislative session to pass House Bill 70 which gave a one year delay and created an extension process.


Following the passage of the legislation, NASW-NC worked in Coalition to help the state develop an extension process that would include several components, including an extension for licensed independent providers. On Friday, March 20, 2020, our extension was approved. See below on what you need to do to get this extension until Dec. 31, 2022.


This is a HUGE victory for social workers in North Carolina! The following letter is a response to our request with detailed instructions on how to get the extension:



Kay Castillo

North Carolina Professional Association Council Chair

National Association of Social Workers

North Carolina Chapter

412 Morson Street

Raleigh, NC  27601


Re:  Request for Exemption from Connecting to the North Carolina Health Information Exchange


Dear Ms. Castillo:


Thank you for your inquiry regarding a hardship extension request from connecting to the Health Information Exchange (HIE) network on behalf of all licensed outpatient behavioral health providers. 


In response to House Bill 70, NC DHHS has been working toward granting a temporary HIE Hardship Extension to types of providers for whom acquiring and implementing an electronic health record system and connecting to the HIE network would constitute an Undue Hardship. Communication will be published soon identifying provider types eligible for an HIE Hardship Extension, but it should please you know that behavioral health providers (other than psychiatrists) are among those granted an extension until December 31, 2022. 


Although system modifications are still under development, NC DHHS will use an automated process to grant an HIE Hardship Extension to individual behavioral health providers with one of the following active taxonomies on their NC Medicaid NCTracks provider record: 101Y00000X, 103T00000X, 104100000X, 106H00000X, 101YA0400X, 101YM0800X, 101YP2500X, 1041C0700X. 


To ensure their inclusion in the HIE Hardship Extension, behavioral health providers are encouraged to confirm the accuracy and status of the taxonomy on their NCTracks record.  This is accomplished by utilizing the Manage Change Request process in the NCTracks Secure Provider Portal to review and, if applicable, submit changes for their individual National Provider Identifier (NPI). 


In addition to granting an HIE Hardship Extension by provider taxonomy, there is other criteria to which a provider may attest as applicable to their individual or organization circumstance.  The other criteria include:

  • Providers nearing retirement on or before December 31, 2022
  • Providers who are closing their practices on or before December 31, 2022
  • Providers operating in rural areas with lack of access to affordable internet / broadband capacity adequate to support implementation of electronic health record technology and connection to the HIE Network
  • Providers in a community with few or no alternatives that not granting a Hardship Extension for a provider or practice may lead to the loss of or a material reduction in access to care for NC Medicaid beneficiaries


Until the automated process for identifying qualifying providers is active, the DHB Provider Ombudsman telephone line and email will be utilized to accept provider inquiries for an HIE Hardship Extension. 


To inquire, providers may contact the DHB Provider Ombudsman at 919-527-6666 or  Providers must meet or attest to at least one of the criteria identified above to be granted an HIE Hardship Extension. Inquiries may be submitted by the enrolled provider, or the NCTracks office administrator (OA) or managing employee of record.


Lastly, please note that providers with a status of “Development Underway” or “Intake” on the List of NC HealthConnex Participants will be reported to NC DHHS by NC HIEA and will automatically be granted an HIE Hardship Extension.  These providers are still required to comply with the participation agreement and the technical onboarding requirements documented in the contract and must still be connected by the HIE Hardship Extension deadline date of December 31, 2022.  Any provider with questions regarding their status on the List of NC HealthConnex Participants should contact NC HIEA at 919-754-6912 or email 


We also welcome additional discussion as needed.  Please expect additional communications to be published on the NC DHHS DHB Provider webpage, as well as with the NC Health Information Exchange Authority. 


Thank you again for your inquiry,



Melanie Whitener

Project Manager

Division of Health Benefits


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