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New Medicaid expansion pitch surfaces in N. Carolina House

New Medicaid expansion pitch surfaces in N. Carolina House

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina House Republicans pitched a plan Thursday that could authorize expanding Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of additional low-income adults, which their leader argued would bring more certainty to ensuring rural hospitals and substance abusers get help.

The legislation is being promoted by Speaker Tim Moore, who said it was a response to a wide-ranging health care access bill backed by GOP Senate leader Phil Berger that contains expansion and received overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this month.

Although many House Republicans don’t like the Senate bill because it also contains too many controversial topics unrelated to expansion, Moore said he hoped offering an alternative would keep talks going.

“I don’t know if the other chamber will agree to it or not,” Moore told the House Health Committee, but “this is a way to move forward with a plan that I think will actually help at the end of the day without causing the state any financial hit, and at the end of the day help those who need help the most.”

Expansion has been intertwined with ongoing but separate negotiations between the House and Senate over proposed adjustments to the second year of a two-year state budget approved last fall. Berger has said Medicaid expansion ought to be inserted in the budget, something that Moore isn’t willing to do.

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Although lawmakers hope to end the legislative work session on or around July 1, the date the new fiscal year begins, they aren’t required to adjourn. Moore and Berger met Thursday to work out difference that their lieutenants couldn’t resolve. They said they still hoped to vote on budget legislation next week.

North Carolina is one of 12 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid through what the federal 2010…

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