CA Senator Proposes Worker Health Care Plan

December 14, 2006 ( - California Senate President pro Tem Don Perata on Tuesday unveiled a health care proposal that would give all of California's working adults and their families access to affordable health insurance.

Under the proposal, employers would have a choice of either providing health insurance to employees or contributing to a state purchasing pool called the Connector, according to a statement on Perata’s Web site.  The Connector would negotiate the best rates and offer employees a choice of plans that provide comprehensive health coverage including medical, hospital, and prescription drug benefits.

All California employers would be required to spend a certain percentage of social security wages for employee health insurance costs, the statement said.  Employers who choose not to provide health insurance to employees could elect to pay an equivalent amount to the trust fund used by the Connector.  Employee contributions equal to a certain percentage of pay would be collected by the employer. 

The proposal also would require all working Californians and their families to have health care coverage at a minimum benefit level to be determined and would be required to present proof of health care coverage or lose tax credits for themselves and their dependants.

While working Californians would be guaranteed health care coverage under Perata’s proposal, other uninsured residents would continue to be covered by the state’s Healthy Families program and Medi-Cal. The proposal would expand the Healthy Families program and Medi-Cal to cover all eligible children and their parents up to 300% of the federal poverty line and federal funds for the program would be matched by employer and employee contributions through the Connector. 

Since Massachusetts passed a universal health care mandate in April, a number of states have either passed or proposed similar legislation, including Tennessee, Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont, and Oregon (See Oregon Latest to Move Toward Universal Health Care).