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Brown Speech Touts Bioscience, Warns of Future Health Care Costs

Health care wasn’t a big focus of Gov. Jerry Brown’s speech. But the governor did mention health care in terms of costs to the state, and how California is a leader in bioscience and medical technology.

Brown said “tens of billions [of dollars are] needed to cover retiree health care” and he sees this as a long term budget liability. New health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, such as the Medicaid expansion, are a “future risk” to state spending, Brown said.

“We do have a large group of people who will rely on the pensions,” says Dorothy Rice, medical economist and Professor Emerita at UC San Francisco School of Nursing. Rice says the Governor is right to urge fiscal prudence.

“We need to be careful about how we spend that money that we have now,” says Rice

The governor highlighted the stem cell and biotech industries in California – noting that six of the nation’s top twelve metropolitan research areas are in the Golden State.

Brown said the state recently introduced a tax credit to foster innovation in biotechnology, an industry he says can help “cure disease and lower costs.” He says medical advances being developed in California will help “treat individual patients, instead of broad populations.”

Rice says medical technology has been one source of rising health care costs across the U.S. But she says it can also make medicine more efficient.

“Medical technology really does have the possibilities of lowering medical care costs in the future. I have no doubt about that,” says Rice.

Rice says she would have liked the Governor to have spoken more about health care and changes under the Affordable Care Act.

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