The Massachusetts Senate was expected to take up debate on the latest version of universal health-care legislation following approval by the Senate Ways and Means Committee in an unusual Sunday session.

Easy passage is expected for the bill crafted by committee Chairman Patricia McGovern, D-Lawrence, who last December won the backing of business, hospital and insurance groups for a compromise measure which cleared the Senate in the last legislative session.The bill died, however, when the House failed to take action before the session ran out.

The newest version of the health-care plan submitted last September by Democratic Gov. Michael Dukakis is now expected to move to a conference committee later this week to resolve differences with a House bill passed earlier this month.

The House measure, which added special interest provisions for hospitals, raised concern among many who supported last year's Senate consensus.

The Senate is expected to fight attempts to load the legislation with costly amendments, sticking to an inflation plus 2 percent formula that would

allow hospital revenues to rise by $941 million in the next four years.

The Senate bill would cap the private sector share of an uncompensated care pool at $325 million effective immediately, with the state guaranteeing the excess through 1991.

It also would help cover hospitals' Medicare shortfalls up to $50 million a year.

In two changes from last year's plan, the bill would drop new incentives to collect bad debts as unfair to hospitals in poorer communities and also drop a ban on reimbursing non-emergency care as unworkable.

The conference committee also will have to deal with differences in exemptions provided under the bills.

The latest House version would exempt small businesses with nine or fewer employees from requirements to provide coverage. The McGovern bill exempts only self-employed individuals.

The Senate bill leaves open the amount of an employer's contribution to a health plan but would require an annual $1,680 surcharge per employee to be reduced by health-care expenditures.

The House bill would require employers to pay at least 50 percent of a plan with $1,680 worth of actuarial benefits.