NU Online News Service, Jan. 5, 2004, 5:41 p.m. EST – The Missouri Senate is considering a bill that could discourage lawmakers from imposing new coverage mandates on sellers of individual and small group health insurance.[@@]

The bill, Senate Bill 805, would create a Mandated Benefit Review Commission within the Missouri Department of Insurance.

The commission would be responsible for reviewing all existing mandates and identifying the ones that appear to do more harm than good. The commission also would look at the likely costs and benefits of proposed mandates.

The commission’s “report must contain the social impact of mandating the benefit, the financial impact of mandating the benefit, the medical efficacy of mandating the benefit, and the effects of balancing the social, economic and medical efficacy considerations,” according to a bill summary prepared by Stephen Witte, a Missouri Senate researcher.

The bill sponsor, Sen. John Loudon, R-West St. Louis County, Mo., is chairman of the Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industrial Relations Committee.

He introduced a similar bill, S.B. 460, in 2003.

Several other states have created mandate review mechanisms similar to that proposed in the S.B. 805 in recent years.

More information about S.B. 805 is on the Web at http://www.senate.state.mo.us/04INFO/bills/SB805.htm

Another Missouri bill, S.B. 756, could create up to $10 million in state income tax credits for businesses with 2 to 25 employees that provide health insurance. Eligible small employers could receive tax credits equal to 25% of their employees’ annual health insurance premiums.

A third bill, S.B. 728, would create up to $15 million in state income tax credits for contributions to health reimbursement arrangements. The maximum tax credit would be $2,000, or 10% of the contribution made by a small business to an HRA.