Missouri Passes Revised Insure Missouri Program

2008-05-02 08:43

The Missouri state Senate onMonday voted 30-4 to approve legislation that includes a program to cover200,000 low- and middle-income state residents, the Kansas City Star reports. The"centerpiece" of the bill is a new version of the Insure Missouriprogram originally proposed by Gov. Matt Blunt (R).

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The measure would provide health insurance for people ages 19 to 64 withincomes up to 250% of the federal poverty level. To qualify, state residentscould not have access to affordable employer-sponsored coverage and must havebeen uninsured for at least six months. Deductibles would be based on a slidingscale with a maximum of $1,000 per year. People with incomes lower than 100% ofthe poverty level would not have to pay anything for the program. Employerscould pay up to half of a beneficiary's deductible.

The bill also includes a wide range of initiatives intended to make consumersmore aware of health care costs and to help them make informed decisions. Themeasure would offer a tax deduction for the cost of certain high-deductibleinsurance policies and encourage health insurers to publicly compare thequality and cost efficiency of health care providers in their networks. Inaddition, the legislation would establish an organization to publicly report onpreventable medical errors at hospitals.

According to the legislation, the program would cost the state at least $40million next year, but the majority of funding for the program would come fromthe federal government and special hospital taxes that would be used toleverage additional federal matching funds. The bill now moves to the House (Wagar, KansasCity Star, 4/28).


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