The bill, passed by a 46-31 margin, would require all companies with 200 or more workers to offer insurance for employees and their families starting in 2005 or pay fees to support a statewide insurance program. Firms with between 20 and 199 employees would have to give workers, but not their families, insurance by 2006 or pay similar fees to the state. In most cases, companies would pay at least 80% of the monthly insurance premium, leaving workers to pay no more than 20% of the tab.
Employees would qualify for coverage under the law if they worked at least 100 hours per month and had been with their current job at least three months. Workers who qualify would either get insurance on the job or through a state-run insurance pool. Four out of five of California’s approximately 6 million uninsured residents are workers and their families, studies show.
After being approved by the state legislature early on Saturday morning, the bill now moves onto the governor’s desk for his signature before becoming law. So far, Governor Gray Davis has not indicated whether he will sign the health insurance bill. However, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante told a Democratic convention in Los Angeles this past weekend that the governor would sign the bill, according to a San Jose Mercury News report.