NAACP, health care advocates urge governor to expand Medicaid in Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — The state chapter of the NAACP and other advocates for health care on Thursday urged Gov. Bill Haslam to expand Medicaid in Tennessee, and the Republican governor says he's considering a plan.

About 50 protesters gathered on the War Memorial Plaza across the street from the state Capitol.

Tennessee NAACP President Gloria Sweet-Love said her group wrote the governor about two weeks ago and will hold events throughout the year to draw attention to the issue.

Haslam last year declined to accept the Medicaid money without special arrangements for the state.

He told reporters later Thursday that he wants to do what "works financially for the state long term." He said he talked to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell by phone this week and hopes to talk to her in person in Washington as soon as a meeting can be arranged.

Haslam said the state may also present a plan soon.

"I think we'll probably go to them sometime this fall with a plan ... that we think makes sense for Tennessee," he said.

Haslam met with former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius twice during a visit to Washington in February and ended up asking her to make a counterproposal to Tennessee's call for using the federal money to subsidize private insurance and promote healthier lifestyles through a series of incentives.

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