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By GARY D. ROBERTSON
Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina state employees and school teachers would pay a monthly premium for their own coverage for the first time and face higher co-pays and deductibles to keep the health plan solvent in legislation given initial approval by the Senate.

The Senate tentatively agreed Thursday to the $515 million plan over the next two years in a party-line vote.

The GOP-written plan goes beyond a proposal by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue by requiring the premium of all active workers. It also would be required of retirees who use the more generous of two coverage plans. Those premiums would range from $17 to $22 a month starting in July.

Dependent coverage premiums would rise about 5 percent annually for the next two years.

A final Senate vote will come next week.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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