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Health care plan for all Calif. workers proposed


SACRAMENTO, Calif.--A Democratic leader in the California Senate has unveiled a health care plan intended to provide working adults and their families with access to affordable health insurance.

Under the plan proposed Tuesday by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, all California workers and their dependents would be covered. All employers would have a choice of either providing health insurance or contributing to a state purchasing pool called the Connector, according to a statement issued by Sen. Perata.

The Connector would negotiate the best rates and offer employees a choice of plans. The state's Major Risk Medical Insurance Board would be responsible for establishing the Connector and administering the program.

The estimated cost of coverage under the proposal is between $5 billion and $7 billion, which would be paid through employer and employee contributions in the same way that unemployment insurance and state disability insurance are now paid. The plan also calls for maximizing federal funding opportunities.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement saying, "It is fantastic that the Legislature is joining me in making health care reform a priority...I look forward to continuing the dialogue with other legislators and stakeholders."