Missouri Plan To Help Low-Income Workers Obtain Insurance

Armen Hareyan's picture

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (R) on Tuesday announced a three-phase planto help low-income workers obtain health insurance through governmentsubsidies, the Kansas City Starreports. The proposal aims to extend coverage within a year to 131,500working adults with incomes up to 185% of the federal poverty level.

Under the plan, the state in October would seek bids from private insurers to provide coverage, according to Amy Blouin, executive director of the Missouri Budget Project.In the first phase, Medicaid would provide health coverage for custodial parents with incomes up to the poverty level, and benefits would be similar to those provided to state workers. Families within comes below the poverty level would not contribute premiums and would be charged co-payments ranging from 50 cents to $3 per service.

In the second phase, Medicaid would pay for coverage of working adults with incomes up to 185% of the poverty level. Those adults would be required to contribute higher co-pays and premiums, but total contributions would not exceed 5% of the person's income.


Under the third phase, which is scheduled to be implemented by early 2009,the state would provide catastrophic coverage for employees of businesses with 25 or fewer workers. Eligibility would be limited to workers with incomes of no more than about 250% or 300% of the poverty level. The plan requires approval from the state Legislature and the federal government.


The plan would be funded by a combination of state taxes, special Medicaid taxes, federal money hospitals receive for providing indigent care and federal matching funds. Steve Renne, deputy director of the state's Department of Social Services,said the program is expected to cost less than $50 million from February 2008, when it begins, through June 2008, when the fiscal year ends. The program is expected to cost $631 million annually by 2010.State contributions would be capped at $46.8 million, while other contributions would increase, according to Renne (Wagar, Kansas City Star, 9/18).

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