SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Thousands of California residents aged 50 and older who qualify for Medi-Cal are now eligible for full benefits, regardless of immigration status, thanks to an expansion of the state’s health insurance program for low-income residents. 

The expansion, which took effect on May 1, will now allow more than 185,000 individuals to receive full health coverage. 

“We’re delivering concrete results for Californians, continuing to fulfill the promise of a Healthy California for All, and I encourage all those eligible to take advantage of these essential health services,” said Governor Newsom. “This is an investment in our people, our economy, and our future. But we’re not stopping there. California is on the path to expanding Medi-Cal to all eligible Californians regardless of age or immigration status, providing the most comprehensive health coverage in the entire country.”

In Sonoma County, this means nearly 2,000 Sonoma County residents whose Medi-Cal benefits were limited because of their immigration status have been automatically upgraded into full-scope coverage. Anyone who qualifies for health care coverage through Medi-Cal is encouraged to enroll immediately, said Felisa Pinson, director of the county Department of Human Services’ Economic Assistance Division.

“Medi-Cal is a critical service in Sonoma County. This expansion will reach nearly 2,000 county residents and will provide an access point to a full breadth of medical care that was before unattainable to this community. The expansion means that, regardless of immigration status, eligible adults over 50 will be able to afford medications, doctor visits, dental visits and preventative care,” Pinson said. 

“This will improve the health of our community substantially and result in fewer emergency room visits because of access to preventative care. We are excited to be able to help people secure these fundamental services.”

More than 100,000 Sonoma County residents receive health care coverage through the Medi-Cal program, providing access to free or low-cost medical and dental services to low-income adults and families. 

In the past, Medi-Cal clients without satisfactory immigration status were only able to access limited medical care, otherwise known as “restricted scope” coverage. The expansion will give them access to more services, known as “full scope” coverage, including dental care and preventative visits.