Beginning Jan. 1, a new law in California will provide adults ages 26 to 49 access to full-scope Medi-Cal services, and immigration status will not matter.
Ethnic Media Services held a news briefing to discuss Medi-Cal's expansion, who benefits, and how, particularly in rural communities such as Wasco. Juan Avila, chief operating officer of the nonprofit Garden Pathways, was one of the panelists.
"Medi-Cal will seek to make health care more accessible to the hard-to-reach populations, including undocumented individuals," Avila said.
Medi-Cal eligibility rules, including income limits, will still apply.
All other age ranges already qualify for full coverage of Medi-Cal, regardless of immigration status.
"This is significant, especially for rural communities like Wasco where there is a large migrant population that does not seek health services due to costs and fear of their status being exposed."
California is on the frontline of transforming public health care for those who need it most, as it is one of the first states to develop this expansion for the undocumented population and those who are justice-involved, Aviula said.
"This expansion also pertains to the justice involved, meaning those currently incarcerated. They will be able to enroll in Medi-Cal before their release so they can access health care services as they transition back to our community."
"The expansion is a big deal because it fills the gap between the ages of 26 and 49, and also, by the fact that those undocumented receiving Medi-Cal will not be prevented from getting their citizenship either."
Avila said that getting Medi-Cal is just the first step, though. The second step is using Medi-Cal and accessing the services, which include a primary physician, dental, vision and mental health services, as well as prescriptions and treatment for drug and alcohol use.
"One of the biggest issues is that we have been enrolling people, but then those who are enrolled don't use it. They don't see their doctors, so we want to encourage people as they become eligible to go and utilize the services, see their doctors and see their dentists, etc."
"Don't wait until you're sick to prevent any future illness and catch things early."
For more information about enrolling in Medi-Cal, call 877-410-8812 or visit Kern County Department of Human Services at KCDHS.org.