Opening the Legislature's debate over health insurance, Senate Democratic leader Don Perata on Tuesday outlined a plan for covering 4.2 million uninsured working Californians and their families by requiring employers and employees to bear a share of the cost, the Sacramento Bee reports.

The Oakland Democrat's broad proposal, which would mandate coverage for a significant portion of the state's more than 6 million uninsured, did not include specifics on how much businesses and individuals could expect to pay. But Perata did estimate that the overall cost would be between $5 billion and $7 billion, all of it covered by businesses, workers and the federal government rather than by the state.

In unveiling a plan now, Perata got a jump on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is expected to reveal his own health proposals in January during his State of the State speech.

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