California Legislative Panel Approves Health Reform Package

A state legislative committee has approved a $14.4 billion health care reform plan that would provide coverage to nearly two-thirds of the state's uninsured and require most Californians to buy health insurance.

Members of an Assembly committee passed the legislation Monday on a partisan, 12-5 vote.

The full Assembly is scheduled to vote on the bill later.

Funding for the health care package relies on fees imposed on hospitals and employers, as well as boosting the tax on cigarettes.

If the plan is passed by the Assembly and Senate, it will go to the voters in November 2008.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a Democrat, says the plan represents the largest state expansion of health care coverage for
the working class.

Republicans oppose it, saying it relies on risky funding sources and penalizes California employers.

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