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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

California expands Medi-Cal to seniors over 50 regardless of immigration status

Medi-Cal to over 50 regardless of immigration status

Beginning May 1, California's health coverage program for low-income individuals and families will extend eligibility for full-scope Medi-Cal to those over 50 regardless of immigration status, benefiting more than 185,000 individuals.

"This is an investment in our people, our economy and our future. But we will not stop there. California is on track to expand Medi-Cal to all eligible Californians, regardless of age or immigration status, providing the most comprehensive health coverage in the entire country," said state Governor Gavin Newsom.

Newsom signed legislation last year making California the first state in the nation to expand full Medi-Cal eligibility to those over 50 regardless of immigration status and low income, and this 2022 he has proposed - subject to legislative approval - that the health program be extended to all eligible residents, regardless of age or immigration status.

The expansion population includes individuals age 50 and older who are eligible for Medi-Cal, who do not have a satisfactory immigration status or cannot establish one for the full program.

It also includes individuals age 50 and older who are currently enrolled in restricted-scope Medi-Cal.

Therefore, all residents 50 years of age or older, regardless of their immigration status, who have not applied for Medi-Cal can do so beginning May 1. To apply and to find out about the forms, you can give click here.

 "We are committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion on behalf of all Californians," said Michelle Baass, director of the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). "This action reflects our fundamental belief that all Californians deserve quality health care."

And, many of the residents of that older population have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and have had limited access to care. 

So the expansion will improve access to preventive and routine care, improve financial security for those who enroll, and strengthen California's efforts to address health disparities and inequities, especially among populations of color, the governor noted.

Notably, in May 2016, children under age 19 became eligible for full Medi-Cal benefits, and in January 2020, the full program was extended to young adults ages 19 to 25, regardless of immigration status. 

Previously, these individuals only qualified for limited Medi-Cal services, such as emergency, prenatal and long-term care. 

They can now access the full range of benefits available to Medi-Cal beneficiaries, including quality health services, behavioral health, substance abuse disorder services, and no-cost or low-cost dental services through the program's various delivery systems. 

"These Californians now have a place where they can coordinate all of their medical, dental, mental health and substance use disorder needs, and a primary care physician to better manage their health conditions," said Jacey Cooper, state Medicaid director. 

The next step in California's coverage expansion, subject to legislative approval, is outlined in the Governor's 2022-23 budget, which proposes to expand Medi-Cal coverage to more than 700,000 estimated adults aged 26-49 without satisfactory immigration status, effective as soon as possible before January 1, 2024. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services do NOT consider health, food, and housing services as part of the public charge determination. Therefore, use of Medi-Cal benefits - except for care in a nursing home or mental health facility - will NOT harm an individual's immigration status. will NOT harm a person's immigration status, the Newsom administration stressed.

You may be interested in: California makes room for euthanasia with its End-of-Life Option Act

Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.


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