SAN FRANCISCO - The court-appointed receiver charged with bringing the health care system in California prisons up to snuff told state lawmakers this week that he needs $7 billion to do it - and he needs it soon.

"Beginning next fiscal year, we could easily need as much as $2.5 billion," the federal receiver, J. Clark Kelso, said in a phone interview. "We need to be able to encumber nearly the full amount within the next couple of years. It's very aggressive schedule I've put my team on."

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