SACRAMENTO, Calif. -

California could gain tens of millions of dollars annually in federal reimbursements for sick prison inmates under the nation's new health care law.

State and federal officials said Tuesday that the money would come from higher Medicaid reimbursements for inmates who are treated in outside hospitals. It would not help pay for health care within prisons.

A nationwide study of prison health care spending released Tuesday by The Pew Charitable Trusts cites an estimate from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office that California could save nearly $70 million annually.

The federal court-appointed official who controls California's prison medical system uses a more conservative projection of $40 million.

The savings would be a fraction of the $2 billion the state spends annually for inmate medical, mental health and dental care.