California will face "minimal" new costs from federal health care expansion, and most of the initial burden will occur regardless of whether the state expands Medi-Cal eligibility to new categories of low-income residents, according to a new University of California study.
In 2014, California would pay between $188 million and $453 million more because of widespread changes in the federal law intended to reduce the number of uninsured Americans, according to the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The state is expected to spend $14.6 billion this fiscal year on Medi-Cal, which funds health care for certain low-income residents.
The state would spend more than three-quarters of that additional money on serving people already eligible for Medi-Cal, such as low-income children, parents and disabled residents. The federal act would spur them to sign up because of increased awareness, lower enrollment hurdles and potential penalties for lacking health insurance - changes that are due to occur regardless of any state decisions.
One of the biggest health care decisions facing Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers this spring is whether to extend Medi-Cal to additional low-income groups now excluded from the program - principally childless adults and parents between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level.