Rhode Island Gov. Bruce G. Sundlun last week announced a plan to make $7 million available by 1994 to provide health-care coverage for all uninsured children under the age of six and for all uninsured pregnant women.

Sundlun said the plan would be the first step toward providing universal health care for all Rhode Island residents.

"My goal is to eventually put into place a universal health-care program for all Rhode Islanders," Sundlun said. "We're going to start with those who need it most."

The proposal must be approved by the federal government, even though funding will come from state coffers. The governor said in a statement that he "would not rule out" issuing additional bonds to offset the cost of the program.

The governor also said he would not raise taxes to fund the $7 million start-up cost of the plan, and that he is investigating several ways to finance it.

Sundlun said he will have a committee formed by the end of this month to study the proposal and present him with a report in January.

The governor said that improving access to medical care saves money in the long run because people with ready access to doctors are less likely to seek expensive non-emergency care in hospital emergency rooms, he said.

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