Rachel Linn Gish, Health Access California, firstname.lastname@example.org, 916-532-2128
Sumeet Bal, California Immigrant Policy Center, email@example.com, (917) 647-1952
AMIDST COVID-19 PANDEMIC HEALTH & IMMIGRANT RIGHTS GROUPS HIGHLIGHT URGENT NEED TO EXPAND MEDI-CAL FOR ALL SENIORS
SACRAMENTO, CA – This week, over 75 organizations from the #Health4All Coalition submitted a letter to Governor Newsom and legislative leaders asking for expedited implementation of an expansion in Medi-Cal to income-eligible undocumented seniors age 65 and over in order to help combat the public health crisis created by COVID-19. In the January, Governor Newsom proposed as part of the 2020-2021 budget to provide full-scope Medi-Cal to an estimated 27,000 low-income undocumented seniors by removing immigration status as an eligibility exclusion. If passed, that proposal was set to begin on January 1, 2021.
According to the California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 resource page, “some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes older adults (65+).” The submitted letter emphasized that beyond that, California’s low-income elders are especially vulnerable: “Seniors are more medically fragile and face barriers that make it harder for them to access care during times of social distancing. Our undocumented seniors are even more at risk because they are excluded from many vital services altogether. There is no justification for leaving them out of comprehensive health care in the midst of this crisis. Besides humanitarian concerns, doing so will severely undermine efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 throughout the nation.”
“This public health emergency shows how deeply our health is connected to that of our friends, neighbors, and especially our elders, who are most at risk,” said Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director, California Immigrant Policy Center. “We call on Governor Newsom to recognize our shared humanity and take action now to protect the health of every Californian, especially undocumented seniors.”
“The budget proposal to provide Medi-Cal to all income-eligible seniors, regardless of immigration status, is now more urgent than ever,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California. “California should not delay, and in fact should expedite this planned expansion to this at-risk population that is currently excluded from coverage.”