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May 14, 2007

Assembly speaker tells of reform plans as people in Fresno air their ideas.

Pete Estrada buys health insurance for employees of his Clovis printing business and backs proposals to have other employers do so, too.

"I'm already providing my share," Estrada said. "I think that if everybody were on an even playing field, the system would work much better."

That's why Estrada lent his support to Assembly Bill 8, a universal health-care plan backed by Assembly Speaker Fabián Núñez, during a town hall meeting Saturday on a patio at the downtown Community Regional Medical Center.

Núñez's bill has plenty of competition in this year's Legislature, with his Senate counterpart, Don Perata, D-Oakland, carrying another bill and Gov. Schwarzenegger pitching his own proposal. But all share the same broad goal -- extending coverage to the state's estimated 6.5 million uninsured.

"Within five years, everybody in California would have health care -- that's the plan that I'm proposing in a nutshell," Núñez said. "We believe that this is the year we will get this done."

Still, halfway through the current session, prospects remain iffy. Many Republicans oppose employer mandates, a key element of most proposals. Some on the other side support Senate Bill 840, a plan by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, to replace private insurance with tax-funded, government-managed health care.

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Posted by healthinsurance at May 14, 2007 05:06 PM