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As many as two million more low- and moderate-income Californians could become eligible for health care under the state's Medi-Cal program when the new federal health care program kicks in, the Legislature's budget analyst says.

Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor's office, in an analysis of the health care program, says that expanding Medi-Cal, which now serves 7.3 million persons, would be partially financed by federal funds but still drive up costs borne by California taxpayers.

How much that will cost is still uncertain, the LAO report says, but it "will put significant fiscal pressure on the state in the out-years, particularly as the enhanced federal funding is somewhat reduced."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a sharp critic of the federal health care program when it was being written by President Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress, citing the potentially heavy impact on a state budget that's already gushing red ink. But after enactment, Schwarzenegger pledged to fully implement it in California.

The full LAO report on the program's impact on California is available here.



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