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RALEIGH, N.C.-- The North Carolina Senate has given tentative approval to a bill that changes how Medicaid is administered and paid for in the state. Senators approved the measure, 28-17, on Thursday.

It would create a new state agency to oversee and manage Medicaid and partially privatize it. The bill would carve out Medicaid regions in the state where both private companies and hospital-led health plans would compete for contracts to serve patients there.

The state would give health plans a set amount of money based on the number of Medicaid patients in their region. Supporters say it will give the state stability on costs, which have been unpredictable, but opponents argue that it will restrict care, especially in rural and low-income areas.

The bill now goes to the House.

Related:

State Trying to Fix Broken Medicaid System

North Carolina Medicaid Backlog Prompts "Crisis Mode"

NC Medicaid Overhaul Steers From Privatization

Medicaid Problems Preventing Patients From Seeing Doctor

Human Error to Blame For Medicaid Card Privacy Breach

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