Republican Assemblyman Keith Richman unveiled a bi-partisan proposal Thursday that would require individuals to purchase health insurance much as they do car insurance as part of a plan to reduce the number of uninsured.


The formal legislation, including its full details, is expected to be introduced in the state Assembly next week. It is part of a larger package of eight separate bills that are being co-sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Nation, a Santa Rosa Democrat.


The package also seeks to reduce the growing cost of health care by requiring doctors to follow treatment guidelines, hospitals to install computerized record systems and the Medi-Cal program to administer generic drugs, among other measures.


"What Assemblyman Nation and I are proposing is a well thought out, bi-partisan, comprehensive health care proposal," said Richman, who represents Granada Hills.


The proposal, if introduced next week, would be the first comprehensive health care reform plan introduced in the new Legislative session.


Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, D-Los Angeles, is expected to introduce a competing plan later this month that would establish a single government-run health care program to replace all existing public and private plans.


Richman's proposal mirrors a failed bill that the California Hospital Association, Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente sponsored two years ago.


Richman said he was hopeful that the new bill would have a chance, saying that it was a more realistic approach politically than the one Kuehl is expected to introduce.


Health insurers rejected the Richman proposal outright, decrying the expansion of a gross receipts tax to health plans regulated by the state Department of Managed Health Care. Currently only some health insurers pay the tax.


Other groups said they wanted to see the actual bills. "There isn't a lot of detail," said Jan Emerson, vice president of external affairs with the California Hospital Association. "They are looking at a complete reform of the system."


The proposal follows the narrow loss in November of Proposition 72, a referendum that would have mandated employer-provided health coverage.


The Richman bill also would delay the requirement that hospitals seismically retrofit their facilities by 2008, a proposal similar to a bill unveiled Wednesday by state Senator Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco.


However, in Richman's version, hospitals would only be eligible for the delay if they installed electronic medical record systems by 2010.

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