New budget expands healthcare in California

Gov. Jerry Brown
Gov. Jerry Brown
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
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In addition to more funding for schools, public universities and social services, the budget package that Gov. Jerry Brown signed Thursday includes legislation expanding the state’s healthcare program for the poor, part of California’s effort to implement President Obama’s national overhaul.

The new spending plan is set to take effect Monday.

The public healthcare program, known as Medi-Cal, is expected to grow by 1 million enrollees and could soon cover about one in four Californians. Millions more people will be able to buy insurance through a state-run market.

Most of the changes will be funded with federal money. The state will pick up $196 million of the $2.1-billion tab for the Medi-Cal growth. The $381.6-million price of the state-run marketplace, called an exchange, will be almost completely funded by Washington.


Californians can begin buying health insurance through the exchange in October, and officials plan to enlarge Medi-Cal membership in January.

California was an early supporter of Obama’s healthcare program, and the president was in San Jose earlier this month to tout the state’s progress.

Diana Dooley, Brown’s health and human services secretary, told reporters at the governor’s morning news conference Thursday that the healthcare expansion is something “the president made possible but we had to make real.”

Earlier this month, the Legislature approved $96.3 billion in spending for the next fiscal year, after a relatively smooth series of negotiations between Brown and Democratic leaders, who were at his side as he signed the new budget.


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