NU Online News Service, May 13, 12:05 p.m. – Maine Governor Angus King, an independent, recently signed House Bill 1324, a bill establishing a Maine Small Business Health Coverage Plan.

Speaker of the House Michael Saxl, D-Portland, Maine, was the sponsor.

The new small business program is supposed to “provide comprehensive health care at affordable prices to small employers, including self-employed individuals,” according to the bill text.

The plan will offer health care coverage for sole proprietors, employees of businesses with two to 50 employees, and dependents.

A new, 12-member board will run the plan under supervision of the Department of Human Services. The board is supposed to put out a request for proposals by Aug. 1, 2003, and set up an insured or self-insured plan by Jan. 1, 2004.

The law establishing the program will expire Dec. 31, 2008, unless the Legislature renews it.

The text of the bill, which is known as L.D. 1784 as well as H.B. 1324, is available on the Web at http://janus.state.me.us/legis/bills/billtexts/LD178402-1.asp