- Felicia Matlosz
SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) lauded the announcement from the California Department of Health Care Services that income-eligible young adults receiving full scope Medi-Cal won’t lose their coverage because of when they turn 26.
The issue involves timing: Medi-Cal for income-eligible Californians ages 26 to 49, regardless of immigration status, doesn’t begin until January 1, 2024. The gap would have affected a projected 40,000 individuals turning 26 before that date.
This age group is the last one to gain access to full scope Medi-Cal coverage for income-eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status. Those who currently can access coverage are ages up to and including 25 and then 50 years of age and older.
Assemblymember Arambula, State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, and the Health4All Coalition – which includes Health Access California, the California Immigrant Policy Center, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and other health and immigrant advocacy organizations – successfully fought to gain coverage in phases for different age groups in the past decade.
This year, Governor Newsom reconfirmed his commitment to expand full scope Medi-Cal to all income-eligible adults, and the funding is in the 2022-23 State Budget for the final age group of 26 to 49. But the expansion goes into effect on January 1, 2024, prompting many advocates to seek assurance that coverage wouldn’t be disrupted for those turning 26 before the January date. On Monday, the State’s DHCS announced the decision to extend their insurance until the program’s expansion begins.
Assemblymember Arambula said: “I am grateful for this crucial decision from the Department of Health Care Services. It ensures that tens of thousands of these young adults, most of whom are in our most disadvantaged communities, won’t lose their coverage at a time when we are expanding access. We know this coverage is literally life-changing because good health is the foundation for so much more – the ability to pursue an education and to work, the strength to support and care for a family, and the capacity to contribute to community and to the State’s economy. And, we know how important it is to have health care when a pandemic or other unforeseen health issue strikes. The DHCS decision was the correct decision.”
Jose Torres Casillas, Policy and Legislative Advocate for Health Access California, a co-chair of the Health4All campaign, said: “This action by California’s Department of Health Care Services is the right thing to do. Providing continuous coverage means that tens of thousands of young Californians won’t face a disruption in care, keeping them covered and healthier as a result. California is again leading the way in making our health care system work better for all communities, regardless of income, age, or immigration status. As we’ve learned these last few years, all Californians benefit when we all have access to comprehensive, accessible health care services.”
Connie Choi, Policy Director at the California Immigrant Policy Center, said: "The California Immigrant Policy Center welcomes today’s [Monday’s] announcement from DHCS ensuring that 40,000 young adults will maintain their health coverage until Jan. 1, 2024, when Medi-Cal will be available to all Californians ages 26-49, regardless of immigration status. Protecting these young adults – who currently have Medi-Cal – from losing coverage, only to become eligible again shortly thereafter, will prevent needless gaps in health care services and medication that people need. Securing this administrative action by DHCS could not have been possible without the advocacy of the Health4All Coalition."
The Health4All movement, started in 2016, first won coverage for all income-eligible children, regardless of immigration status. In 2020, advocates gained for young adults up to and including age 25. Two years later, coverage was expanded to individuals 50 years of and older.