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California set to lower Medi-Cal age eligibility

Posted at 10:37 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 18:18:20-04

More Californians will have access to healthcare following a decision to lower the age for Medi-Cal eligibility.

The Governor's Office estimates that 185,000 people will become newly eligible for Medi-Cal under a new law that lowers the age for coverage to 50.

The changes take effect this Sunday, May 1.

"We are very excited about this coverage expansion here in our state and it does help us to move closer to coverage to all Californians," said Rene Mollow, Deputy Director for Healthcare Benefits and Eligibility for the California Department of Health Care Services.

It's part of a law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in July.

Medi-Cal was created to bring affordable healthcare to low-income Californians.

Currently, the program is open to those 65 and older and people 25 and younger, regardless of immigration status.

People between the ages of 50 and 65 can only benefit from Medi-Cal during a medical emergency, or for pregnancy care.

Starting May 1, these groups will be eligible for full Medi-Cal benefits.

"For us, the Medi-Cal program is really about the very vulnerable populations in our state that are low income and that's what Medi-Cal affords," said Mollow.

Expanding healthcare access will be paid for by the state's general fund.

For non-citizens, federal funds can only be used for emergency situations.

California will have to foot the bill for full healthcare benefits for undocumented immigrants.

"When we do these coverage expansions and we have state-only Medi-Cal, then for the services that are not federally eligible, those costs are born by the state through the state general fund," said Mollow.

Medi-Cal will also be offered regardless of pre-existing conditions or the ability to pay.

There are also income limits to qualify for healthcare. That limit is set at 138% of the federal poverty level.