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Health care advocates call on North Carolina governor to release plan to expand Medicaid rolls

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RALEIGH, North Carolina — Healthcare advocates released a report Thursday detailing the effect of North Carolina's healthcare coverage gap on children, and held six demonstrations in cities across the state calling on the governor to expand Medicaid.

According to the report by Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families, more than one-quarter of North Carolinians eligible for expanded Medicaid enrollment under the Affordable Care Act are parents. There are 144,000 uninsured children in North Carolina, the report said.

Republicans in the General Assembly are adamant that any expansion of the state's Medicaid rolls must come after an overhaul of the system. After a Supreme Court decision upholding a portion of the 2010 healthcare law came in June, Gov. Pat McCrory said he was in negotiations with leaders in Washington to obtain waivers to use federal funding for a state-specific plan to expand Medicaid.

About thirty protesters in front of the old Capitol building — where the governor's offices are located — demanded on Thursday that McCrory release his plan, while highlighting their concerns based on the Georgetown report's findings. Other demonstrations pushing to expand healthcare coverage took place Thursday in Asheville, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro and Greenville.

Peter Morris, a Wake County pediatrician who spoke at the rally, told a reporter later the issue is rooted less in the state's coverage of children, but with parents who are ineligible for Medicaid and do not sign up their children.

"We actually have really good coverage, what we have is about 90,000 kids that are eligible for that coverage and don't enroll for whatever reason," Morris said. "Parents who are insured are more likely to insure their children."

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