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Small businesses with less than 50 employees are now eligible for a state health insurance program.

Assemblywoman Patricia K. McGee, R-C-Franklinville, said two open enrollment periods are set -- Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 and March 1 to April 30.

The program is called the New York State Small Business Health Insurance Program. Under the program, eligible employers will be able to purchase small group health insurance policies for full-time employees and their dependents. The program sets aside $6 million annually to be used to pay a portion of the premiums for approved eligible employers.

To be eligible for the program, a business must employ under 50 workers and must be located within the state and not have provided group health insurance to any employee associated with the business within the past 12 months.

Preference will be given to businesses that were approved under the 1997 plan.

An application or more information is available by calling the outreach coordinator for the state Small Business Health Insurance Partnership Program at 1-800-836-5689 or from Virginia Dolins at the state Department of Health's Bureau of Health Economics at 518-473-7883.

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