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Universal Health Care System On State Horizon

A sweeping plan to create a universal health care system covering all Californians has been approved by a state Senate committee.

The Senate Insurance Committee also approved a rival measure this afternoon that would require larger employers to help pay for their workers┬┤ health insurance.

Supporters of both bills say the increasing number of Californians without health coverage is creating a dangerous drag on the economy and the state┬┤s medical facilities.

The universal health care bill would eliminate the private health insurance market in California and set up a state health insurance fund that would be presided over by an elected commissioner.

It would be funded by payroll, liquor and tobacco taxes as well as current spending on health care for the poor. The other bill would give employers with an unspecified minimum number of workers the choice of covering at least 80 percent of the cost of buying health insurance for their workers or paying into a state fund that would cover them.