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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - State officials are projecting that 24,000 new jobs would be created if Missouri chooses to expand its Medicaid program.

The Department of Economic Development said Friday that raising the program's eligibility to levels called for by the federal health care law would bring $9.9 billion in new wages to the state.

Gov. Jay Nixon has asked lawmakers to expand the program to include adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level - a little less than $33,000 annually for a family of four. Nixon's administration estimates that 300,000 Missourians could join the program under those levels.

The Republican-led Legislature has repeatedly rejected expanding the program and argued the state couldn't afford it. But a Republican House member introduced legislation this week that would partially expand the program.

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