Governor Pat McCrory and a group of doctors are urging the General Assembly to advance the governor's Medicaid overhaul plan after the North Carolina Senate essentially killed his idea in its budget.
McCrory and more than 30 white-coated physicians held a news conference Wednesday outside the executive mansion.
They back the idea of creating hospital and doctor networks that would share in Medicaid savings and cost overruns.
Senate Republicans say the proposal doesn't save enough and wants to go in another direction but hasn't detailed their path.
Many of those protesting Wednesday, like NAACP President William Barber & Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal, turned their concerns to North Carolinians in rural communities.
Reverend Barber said, "And the mayor and I have said look, we can have debates on other issues and do that, but on this issue of Medicaid expansion and how we treat the least of these and the blind and the aged among us, it should not be a partisan discussion but a principal discussion."
Mayor O'Neal said, "This is an issue of life or death and we are actually going to have people start dying in rural North Carolina if we don't do something about rural healthcare here and not excepting the expansion of Medicaid is causing problems in rural North Carolina with the hospitals that are already struggling to get by."
The town of Belhaven is working to take over Vidant Pungo Hospital, which was slated to close and be replaced with a health clinic.