WASHINGTON - Gov. Jerry Brown continued to press President Barack Obama today for authorization to enact further cuts to Medi-Cal to help balance California's budget, even as the administration showed no sign of relenting and complained about the severity of state budget cuts in other areas.
Obama told governors in a meeting this morning that too many states are cutting education programs too deeply, citing teacher layoffs and rising college tuition.
"We've all faced some stark choices over the past several years," Obama said. "But that is no excuse to lose sight of what matters most. And the fact is that too many states are making cuts to education that I believe are simply too big."
California is among states that have reduced spending on higher education in the weak economy. Leaving the White House, California's Democratic governor said, "He definitely emphasized the importance of education, but the fact is, you only have so much money, and that's why I'm asking for waivers in the Medicaid program, which I haven't gotten yet."
Brown, in Washington for a meeting of the National Governors Association, planned to return to the White House this afternoon to "press our cause" with Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president.
The Obama administration recently denied Brown's bid to charge Medi-Cal recipients co-payments for prescription drugs, doctor visits and other services. After meeting privately with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Sunday, Brown said there are "some legal issues being raised about our ability to require co-pays."
He said Sebelius told him there may be other ways to reduce Medi-Cal costs but did not suggest any, in particular.
Brown described the meeting with Obama today as "very polite."
"No one got too aggressive," he said. "The president restated his points, and the Democrats made their more favorable comments, and I'd say the Republicans were relatively muted."
Brown was planning to meet privately this afternoon with Joseph Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. He met earlier this weekend with other labor officials, and he said he plans to meet with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, in Los Angeles on Tuesday before returning to Sacramento.
Brown said his conversations are on "general issues."
"I'm checking in with these general presidents," he said. "They have a certain impact on politics, and our government."
PHOTO CREDIT: California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks with reporters during the National Governors Association winter meeting in Washington, on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)