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California Gov. Brown And Legislature At Odds Over Medi-Cal Spending

California Gov. Brown And Legislature At Odds Over Medi-Cal Spending
The California State Legislature’s new budget calls for increases in Medi-Cal spending that Gov. Jerry Brown isn’t happy with.

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to hold the line on spending. But the California State Legislature says the state needs to build up the health care system.

The legislature’s new budget contains more money than the governor wants to spend on the Medi-Cal program.

Lawmakers would like to spend $40 million to extend Medi-Cal coverage to all children, regardless of their immigration status. Their budget also restores six different Medi-Cal benefits that were cut during the recession. These include optical care and podiatry.

Anthony Wright, executive director of the nonprofit Health Access California, said restoring the benefits would cost $15 million.

“Those six benefits are actually relatively minor investments, but they would have a direct and important impact on individual families that need those benefits," Wright said.

Scott Graves, research director for the California Budget & Policy Center, said the legislature is prioritizing health care in their new budget.

“The legislature has taken a position that our health care system is stronger if all Californians are included in coverage, and have access to cost-effective primary, preventive, and specialty care," he explained.

The governor said because the state could slip back into a recession in a few years, this is not the time for unrestrained spending.

Democratic leaders in the legislature said they're willing to negotiate.