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Federal Waiver Gives California A Head Start On Health Reform

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Aired 11/4/10

The federal government has given California a waiver to expand and restructure the Medi-Cal program. The waiver will allow the state to put into motion some of the key elements of health care reform.

— The federal government has given California a waiver to expand and restructure the Medi-Cal program. The waiver will allow the state to put into motion some of the key elements of health care reform.

The waiver gives California permission to expand Medi-Cal coverage to a half-million more adults. It lets the state try to save money by switching more Medi-Cal beneficiaries to managed care. And hospitals that care for the poor and meet quality standards will be eligible for more federal dollars.

Rene Santiago is with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. He hoped the waiver will let the county continue some of its initiatives.

"Promoting healthy lifestyles, strengthening the safety net, including our hospitals, our community clinics," he said. "So we're looking to see whether there's more opportunities to do that."

In 2009, about 393,000 people, or 12 percent of the county's population, was enrolled in Medi-Cal.

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