SACRAMENTO – Democrats began a debate Tuesday on how to extend health coverage to millions of uninsured Californians, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ideas were not on the table. A near universal coverage plan by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu ez, D-Los Angeles, passed its first committee, over the objections of the minority Republicans. Another plan, by Senate President pro tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, will be heard today. Neither of the Democrats is going as far as the governor, who wants to require every Californian to have health insurance. And it’s not yet clear how the governor’s proposal, which has not been embraced by either Democrats or Republicans, will factor into the debate. His advisers say they deliberately avoided putting his plan into a bill to prevent it from being picked apart in hearings. Instead, they appear to be waiting to bring it up in negotiations later in the legislative session. But Nu ez offered no estimates on what his plan would cost. An economist is still crunching the numbers. Republicans predicted it would be too expensive and said the costs eventually would be picked up by the state. “Literally, we are just opening our doors to the entire world at the expense of California’s generous taxpayers,” said Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks. Democrats are rejecting the fees Schwarzenegger wants to levy on doctors and hospitals to help pay for his plan, much of which relies on increased federal funding. Schwarzenegger’s advisers have been meeting for months with interest groups, seeking their support. But a consensus has yet to develop. Schwarzenegger seemed to acknowledge the difficulty Tuesday during a luncheon address to the California Medical Association in Sacramento. He asked doctors to look beyond their narrow self-interest and support his plan despite the fees they would have to pay. “Of course, everyone will have their thing about it,” he said. “We cannot provide health care and represent everyone. We have to look for the big goal here.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! But the absence of a bill means the Legislature is moving forward with a very different approach from the $12 billion plan Schwarzenegger outlined in January. Both Nu ez and Perata have rejected the idea of mandatory health insurance, the linchpin of the governor’s plan. Unions oppose the idea, unless the working poor are heavily subsidized, an expensive proposition in a state that has more than 6 million uninsured people. Instead, Democrats want to cover all children and many adults, through a combination of government subsidies and a requirement that most businesses insure their workers. Democrats passed a similar business mandate in 2003, only to watch voters repeal it the following year with Schwarzenegger’s help. In presenting his plan to the committee, Nu ez called it conservative and said it was urgent for the state to act now to avoid an implosion of the state’s health care system. “I don’t think that we can miss this opportunity,” he said.