RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A Republican framework for Medicaid expansion in North Carolina is advancing again with bipartisan support in the state House. But it's unclear whether that will change feelings about the concept in the GOP-controlled Senate.

  • Medicaid expansion in North Carolina is being considered again after being approved by The House Health Committee back in July.
  • The bill would provide a healthcare coverage option for people making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level
  • The bill could appear on the House floor in October.
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The latest version of the N.C. Health Care for Working Families bill incorporates several changes lawmakers initially debated on the House floor earlier in the session. The biggest change is a longer grace period for program users who fail to pay their co-pays or premiums. Users would have 120 days to pay up instead of 90 days.

The House Health Committee voted on Wednesday for an expansion measure similar to the bill the panel heard and approved in July but then was idled during the state budget impasse. Speaker Tim Moore said last week that his chamber would consider it again.

The bill would provide health coverage to anyone with an income up to 133 percent of the federal poverty guideline. Federal statistics show that works out to $34,247 a year for a family of four. Program participants would have to meet work requirements and make Medicaid-style copays. They also would have to pay an annual premium equal to 2 percent of their income if they made more than half the federal poverty level.

Committee Democrats supported the plan even though many oppose GOP demands that it directs low-income adults who would qualify to pay small premiums and meet work requirements. 

Democrats on the panel tried repeatedly Wednesday morning to reduce or eliminate the premium requirement. Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange County, said the premium would take a particular toll on single parents. She said even a couple hundred dollars out of pocket a year would add to their hardships. Bill sponsor Rep. Donny Lambert, R-Forsyth County, said the health insurance program could not be sustained on co-pays alone. 

The bill could come to the House floor in early October. Senate Republicans have said there aren't votes in their chamber to approve expansion.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.