Calif. Closer to Expanding Health Care

Assembly OKs $14B plan that mandates coverage for millions
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2007 5:35 PM CST
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, Dec. 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The lower house of the California legislature yesterday approved a $14.4 billion bill to expand health care to millions of residents, a move analysts say could spark similar actions nationwide, the Los Angeles Times reports. But first skeptical state senators and voters must weigh in. The plan would require most Californians to buy insurance, and aid some with tax credits and subsidies.

Backed only by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrats, the bill faces tough passage in a Senate concerned about the state's $14 billion budget gap. Advocates say taxes of $1.5 billion on tobacco, $2.3 billion on hospitals, and $2.6 billion on bosses who don't supply health care will balance the books—and make California the fourth state to pass such a plan, the New York Times reports.