WASHINGTON -- Gov. Jerry Brown lobbied the Obama administration today for authorization to enact further Medi-Cal cuts, after the administration earlier rejected California's bid to charge copayments for prescription drugs, hospital visits and other services.
"We're optimistic that we can get some compromise on that waiver," Brown told reporters after meeting with President Barack Obama and Democratic governors in Washington.
The Medi-Cal waiver that the Democratic governor is seeking includes authorization to charge copayments and, he said, a "few other things." Brown is counting on about $296 million in savings from a waiver to help balance next year's budget.
Brown, who met Thursday with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, said he also is seeking relief from mandates of the No Child Left Behind law. Obama has offered to let states opt out of No Child Left Behind, but the conditions of a waiver include teacher evaluation and testing requirements that may be difficult for the state to meet.
Brown described his discussions with Duncan as a "work in progress."
Brown is in Washington for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, a gathering he skipped last year. He cited the Medi-Cal and No Child Left Behind waivers as primary reasons for coming.
"As governor of California, my goal was to get greater flexibility so that we can cut the Medi-Cal program where we need to, and where we can get flexibility on some of the federal restrictions on our education programs, and I think, I think we made a positive step to achieve all that."
Brown arrived for the meeting with Obama on a chartered bus carrying about 15 Democratic governors.
In a briefing at the White House, Josh Earnest, a spokesman, said Obama was "eager to continue the ongoing discussion with Democratic governors about the ways that the federal government and the states can work together to create jobs and grow the economy."
Outside a few minutes later, Brown heaped praise on Obama in return.
"He's all fired up, extremely knowledgeable," Brown said. "I was very impressed with the way he understands this government from top to bottom."
Brown ate lunch with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui and was scheduled to meet privately with officials at the State Department to discuss China. Brown, who met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping last week in Los Angeles, said he is "very serious" about promoting Chinese investment in California.
Brown also raised money at a private fundraiser on Thursday night for his ballot initiative to raise taxes.