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WASHINGTON - Gov. Jerry Brown said today that he remains concerned about California's ability to control costs as the state moves to expand health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, seeking assurances from the Obama administration that California will have "broad authority" to curb future spending.

"We need to be able to control costs, period," the Democratic governor told reporters at a meeting of the National Governors Association. "And the federal government has the tendency to send out broad mandates and limit the state's authority, and then we have to come hat in hand and say, 'Please, let us manage this thing that you have thrust on us.'"

His remarks come a year after Brown lobbied federal officials unsuccessfully for authorization to enact certain cuts to Medi-Cal, part of the federal Medicaid program.

Brown is committed to expanding Medi-Cal coverage under the federal health care overhaul. He has warned previously that full funding for the program may be vulnerable due to federal deficit talks, though the Obama administration signaled recently it will protect Medicaid funding.

Brown said California is a "willing and eager" partner in the health care overhaul, but he said, "we have to be able to manage the program, and since there are many unknowns going forward, we have to know that when costs grow in certain ways we have to be able to curb them with a broad authority unconstrained in the way the federal government likes to constrain states."

Brown was joined in Washington today by California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley. She has meetings on health care scheduled here Monday.

"There's going to be pressure to solve the deficit at some point," Dooley said, "and we just have to have the right protections so that we don't start something we can't complete."

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown talks with reporters at a meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. David Siders / The Sacramento Bee



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