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The Obama administration will protect Medicaid funding and instead look for savings in Medicare, a senior White House adviser told health care advocates Thursday, according to The Hill.

The statement from Gene Sperling is significant because Gov. Jerry Brown has recently claimed that California could face $4 billion in higher annual costs from Medi-Cal if federal leaders target Medicaid in deficit negotiations.

Brown has described that as a risk to California's budget, but he also is committed to expanding Medi-Cal coverage to low-income adults without children and parents just above poverty level. Under Obama's health care law, the federal government will pay 100 percent of coverage costs for those individuals from 2014 to 2016.

At his January budget release, the governor implied that the full-funding commitment remains vulnerable in federal deficit talks.

But Sperling told advocates at the Health Action 2013 conference that cuts to Medicaid - the federal program known as Medi-Cal in California - are not on the table, The Hill reported.

"We have come to believe that it is not the time to make even those savings," Sperling said. "Not when this is the critical moment in implementing the Affordable Care Act."


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