SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has warned repeatedly that California is venturing into unknown territory with the expansion of healthcare under the new federal law. The exact cost of implementation is unknown.
A report issued Tuesday by the Legislative Analyst’s Office shows how big a range of potential bills California taxpayers are confronted with when it comes to a central component of the healthcare law: growing the Medi-Cal insurance program for the poor by about 1 million people.
The federal government has vowed to pick up the tab for the first few years. But costs for the state could grow quickly after that. By 2021, the state could be spending as little as $300 million annually to pay for the Medi-Cal expansion -- or as much as nearly $1.4 billion.
The understatement in the report: “Expansion costs are subject to substantial uncertainty.”
The analyst’s office nevertheless urges lawmakers to continue moving aggressively to grow Medi-Cal. They say the costs to the state will be outweighed by the savings that come from getting as many as 1 million more lo- income Californians insured.