Panel OKs Health Insurance Plan

From a Times Staff Writer

A plan sponsored by state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi that would provide a system of health care insurance for all Californians, including the 6 million who are without coverage, was approved Wednesday by the Senate Insurance Committee.

Carried by Assemblyman Burt Margolin (D-Los Angeles), the Garamendi bill is one of at least three health care insurance proposals advancing in the Legislature. A final product may be fashioned late in the summer in negotiations with Gov. Pete Wilson, although there are concerns that any plan would be costly and difficult to implement in an era of tight budgets and falling revenues.

Garamendi told the committee that his program, financed by payroll withholding of premiums, would save $1 billion at the outset through cost containment strategies, including the inclusion of medical coverage in workers' compensation and automobile insurance into the plan.

Among other things, the bill would allow workers to retain health care coverage if they changed jobs and require coverage even if an applicant suffered a major pre-existing illness that currently would make the employee ineligible.

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