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New report embraces Medi-Cal expansion

December 19, 2012 | 11:31 am

California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated PressThis post has been updated

Gov. Jerry Brown’s top healthcare official appeared to embrace an expansion of the state’s Medi-Cal system as California moves to implement the healthcare overhaul signed by President Obama in 2010.

A new report from the Let’s Get Healthy Taskforce, co-chaired by Diana Dooley, Brown’s secretary for Health and Human Services, says “expansion of coverage through the Health Benefit Exchange and Medi-Cal will be an important step” that can particularly help African American and Latino populations, who together comprise nearly half of the state’s estimated 8 million residents without health coverage.

[Updated Dec. 19, 1:25 p.m. In an interview Wednesday, Dooley said Brown was still making final decisions about how to proceed with implementing the federal law, and that expanding Medi-Cal was not the only way forward.

“There are a lot of details and questions to be answered and several paths to implementing the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “We are considering lots of options and we’ll have more details on Jan. 10,” when Brown unveils his state budget.]

Advocates have assumed that the governor would call for an expansion of Medi-Cal, which provides health coverage for families, elderly and disabled Californians living in poverty, but the administration has been tight-lipped about its plans.

Obama's Affordable Care Act is set to go fully into effect in 2014. The law could mean hundreds of thousands of new Medi-Cal recipients, with hundreds of thousands more receiving low-cost insurance through a state-run exchange.

While the federal government will pick up the bulk of the initial costs of the expansion, there will be increased obligations for the state as well. Brown is expected to further outline his plans in the budget he presents on Jan. 10.

You can read the task-force report here.


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-- Anthony York in Sacramento

Photo: California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press