SALINAS — At a media rally at Hospital Natividad on Thursday, the newly expanded Medi-Cal program for seniors was praised by Monterey County health and community officials who encourage all eligible individuals to register.
Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid health care program, which pays for a variety of medical services for children and adults with limited income and resources, and is supported by federal and state taxes.
The program was expanded on May 1 to include all residents over the age of 50 who are eligible, regardless of immigration status. The change affects tens of thousands of residents across the state and locally. It is estimated that more than 100,000 adults in Monterey County receive full or restricted Medi-Cal and although many of those who are eligible have transitioned to full coverage, there may be thousands still eligible.
“Something like this has never been accomplished anywhere else in our country,” said Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo. “This will not only make a propulsive difference in the lives of thousands of low-income families and seniors across Monterey County, but across the great state of California.”
The older adult expansion is modeled after the young adult expansion, which provides comprehensive medical care for young adults ages 19-25.
The expansion is a lifeline for the health of disadvantaged communities. Health advocates and workers traveled throughout the Monterey County community to let eligible people know about this important change, but more work needs to be done.
Medi-Cal’s comprehensive coverage includes doctor’s visits, emergency care, outpatient services, hospital care, dental care, vision, hearing, mental health care, medications, related to substance use disorders and more.
Alejo said many residents the program will affect are those who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this law is expected to benefit between 185,000 and 235,000 low-income California residents.
The state has made great strides in expanding health care coverage for our most vulnerable, Alejo said.
“Supervisor (Chris) Lopez and I have already introduced a referral for Monterey County to devise a plan to educate and provide information to all eligible undocumented residents of Monterey County to enroll in Medi-Cal who will use traditional social media in English, Spanish and indigenous languages and collaborating with community organizations, healthcare partners, our VIDA program and 211 registration services,” said Alejo. “We are excited to take on this challenge and aim to enroll all eligible Monterey County residents. Residents can apply in person, by mail, or online at dhcs.ca.gov.
Former Monterey County Supervisor and current Natividad board member Simon Salinas said one of the best ways to reduce hospital operating costs is to provide primary care to those who need it before they get too sick and come to the emergency room. which is more expensive.
Access to preventive care is the single most important type of health care that will change lives, Lopez said.
“Thank you to the State Legislature and the Governor for making another bold health care policy decision to extend Medi-Cal coverage to those ages 50-64 without proper documentation status,” said Krista Hanni, program manager for the Monterey County Health Department. “These members of our community are essential to the economic viability of our county and it is right and just to ensure that they have access to health care coverage and services – truly a basic human right.”
Hanni said Monterey County continues to have a high percentage of residents without access to health insurance.
“The 2022 County Health Rankings released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation indicates that 12% of our residents are still uninsured, compared to 9% for California. We are going to help close that gap with this new initiative to provide health care to people 50 and older,” Hanni said. “Our county health system will continue to meet the needs of those who are not eligible for health insurance through our board-approved (Monterey County) Esperanza Care program, making primary care, some specialty and pharmaceutical services, available to help individuals improve their well-being. be.”
Hanni said that as a public health system, the Health Department must continue to work with community members, local elected officials and other stakeholders on system and policy change.
“So that we can ensure that all of our neighborhoods can help create these opportunities for residents to fully realize their unique potential by ensuring access to green spaces, safe streets, healthy food options, safe housing, education, job opportunities and health care.”
Other local government, social services, health and labor representatives in attendance included Salinas Mayor Kimbley Craig, Salinas Councilman Orlando Osornio, Health Department Director Elsa Jimenez and Program Manager social services Annette Gallegos.
For more information, call Natividad at 831-755-4165 or visit natividad.com/resources then scroll to Monterey County Cares and click “Learn More,” or call the Medi-Cal program at 877-410 -8823 or visit the Medi -Cal website at Benefitscal.com.