New York Gov. David Paterson says he wants group health plans that offer dependent coverage to increase the maximum eligibility age to 29.

Paterson, D, talked about health care and health coverage initiatives today during his first “state of the state” address.

Paterson proposed using Medicaid program savings to expand the state’s health insurance program for low-income families to include families earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level.

Paterson also proposed a collection of measures to fight obesity in New York state. One proposal would impose a new tax on the sale of soft drinks and other drinks that include large amounts of sugar.

One proposal that could affect private health insurers would require state-regulated group plans that offer family dependent coverage to make employee-paid dependent coverage available to family member dependents ages 19 to 29.

The proposal would not require employers to offer dependent care benefits or require employers to pay for any dependent care benefits that are offered, according to a summary of the proposal posted on Paterson’s Web site.

Paterson notes that 31% of New York’s uninsured residents are ages 19 to 29.

Today, most employers that offer dependent coverage cut off access at age 18 for all dependents and age 22 for dependents who are attending college, Paterson says.

Getting age-rated, young adult dependent coverage through a group plan should be cheaper than getting it other ways, Paterson says.