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Nixon Announces Proposal to Help Small Businesses Provide Health Insurance

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- While visiting the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Governor Jay Nixon announced a plan to help small businesses provide health insurance for employees.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- While visiting the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Governor Jay Nixon announced a plan to help small businesses provide health insurance for employees.

The plan is called Missouri Health Works and is for small employers with fewer than 150 employees. The plan would pay a portion of employers’ health insurance costs for their employees making below 138 percent of the poverty level, or $27,310 annually, for a family of three.

"Small businesses in Missouri are getting squeezed between sky-high health insurance costs and new requirements under the ACA,” Nixon said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the Missouri legislature's inaction on Medicaid has taken this serious problem and made it worse by sending Missourians' tax dollars to other states. There is no reason why small businesses should have to continue to bear all the burdens of the ACA and get none of the benefits. Missouri Health Works is an example of the kind of smart, business-friendly reform that is possible if we move forward and bring Missourians' tax dollars home."

Under the Affordable Care Act, employees with more than 50 employees must provide affordable health insurance coverage to their employees or pay a penalty.

Missouri Health Works will use the dollars available through Medicaid expansion to pay for an estimated 60 percent of the cost of the health premium for eligible employees.

Missouri Health Works will also require employees to take personal responsibility by paying for a share of their health insurance costs. Eligible workers will be required to take advantage of this more cost-effective option rather than enrolling in traditional Medicaid.

Because federal funds will cover 100 percent of the costs for calendar years 2015 and 2016, funding for Missouri Health Works would involve no state tax dollars for those years. Beginning in 2017, the state share would gradually increase to no more than 10 percent of the cost in 2020.

A number of states have programs similar to Missouri Health Works in place including: Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Oregon.

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