Brown Highlights ACA, Medical Research in State of State Speech
In his State of the State address on Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) discussed California's future health care costs and the state's booming medical research industry, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reports.
Comments on Future Health Care Costs
During the speech, Brown said that unknown costs related to Affordable Care Act implementation in California, including the expansion of Medi-Cal, are a "future risk" to state spending. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Bartolone, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 1/22).
Brown also called for a special Legislative session to fast track new laws that are necessary for ACA implementation.
He said, "The broader expansion of Medi-Cal that the [ACA] calls for is incredibly complex," adding, "Working out the right relationship with the counties will test our ingenuity and will not be achieved overnight. Given the costs involved, great prudence should guide every step of the way" (Aliferis, "State of Health," KQED, 1/23).
Brown listed several other "long-term liabilities" to the state's budget, including:
- More than $100 billion in pensions owed to state workers, teachers and judges; and
- Tens of billions of dollars needed for retiree health care costs (Office of the Governor release, 1/22).
Comments on Calif. Biotech Industry
During his speech, Brown also touted a recently enacted tax credit meant to foster medical research in the state.
Brown said medical advances being developed in California will help "cure disease and lower costs" ("KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 1/22).
He noted that six of the nation's 12 "top-performing metropolitan areas in biotechnology" are in California:
- Los Angeles;
- Orange County;
- San Diego;
- San Francisco; and
- San Jose.
In addition, Brown noted that four of the world's leading academic bioscience centers are located in California at:
- Stanford University;
- UC-San Diego; and
- UC-San Francisco and UC-Berkeley.
"Just as California has led the way with stem cell research, so too can we pioneer the new field of precision medicine, which uses genomics, medical devices, computer sciences and other fields to treat individual patients, instead of broad populations," Brown said (Fikes, U-T San Diego, 1/22).
Comments on Prison Realignment
Brown also commented on the state's prison realignment plan and efforts to reduce inmate overcrowding, as called for under a federal court order (Office of the Governor release, 1/22).
In June 2013, three federal judges ordered Brown to release about 9,600 inmates -- or 8% of the inmate population -- by 2014. Last month, the judges gave California until April 18 to reduce the prison population (California Healthline, 1/14).
"We have transferred the supervision of tens of thousands of lower level offenders from the state to our 58 counties," Brown said, adding, "This realignment is bold and far reaching, but necessary under the circumstances."
He said the state is "on the right track" with its prison plans but still needs to:
- Build more capacity at state and county inmate facilities; and
- Implement more effective policies for treating prisoners with mental illnesses or those who misuse drugs (Office of the Governor release, 1/22).
In a release following the address, the California Healthcare Institute applauded Brown's focus on medical research.
The group called Brown "a true partner in supporting the state's life sciences industry and its continued investment into new medicines and technologies for patients around the world" (CHI release, 1/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.