(BCN) — Nearly 300,000 California residents have gained Medi-Cal access in recent months after the state expanded the program to include all eligible adults aged 50 and up, regardless of immigration status. Roughly 286,000 residents living in the state without legal documentation have been added into the program, which is California’s version of Medicaid, since May 1.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the expansion into law last year in an effort to provide health care coverage to income-eligible residents who don’t qualify for federal Medicaid coverage due to their immigration status.
“Thousands of additional Californians are now getting the health coverage they need to live long, healthy lives,” state Department of Health Services Director Michelle Baass said in a statement. “When all Californians have access to equitable, quality health care, our entire health system is stronger.”
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State officials have framed the expansion as one of many steps toward the state providing universal access to health care coverage via publicly funded programs like Medicaid. Since 2016, Medi-Cal benefits have been extended to children and young adults through age 25 who meet the program’s household income eligibility thresholds, regardless of immigration status.
The state plans to further expand Medi-Cal eligibility starting Jan 1, 2024, to roughly 700,000 residents ages 26-49 who meet the program’s income requirements and are living in the state without documentation and do not qualify for the federal Medicaid program. “We’re making sure that universal access to health care coverage becomes a reality here in California, and this expansion has gotten us one step closer,” Newsom said.