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Thousands of Riverside County residents are now eligible for health coverage 

For Immediate Release:

May 3, 2022
Contact:

Angela Maria Naso, Public Information Specialist, (951) 660-1925 – anaso@rivco.org    

Thousands of Riverside County residents are now eligible for health coverage
Expansion of California’s low-income Medi-Cal program began May 1 to people aged 50 and above

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif.— Thousands of Riverside County residents now qualify for health coverage through the statewide Medi-Cal program.  A state law went into effect May 1 that extends Medi-Cal eligibility to low-income Californians who are at least age 50 regardless of their immigration status.

The expansion is expected to provide coverage to an additional 185,000 Californians, including at least 10,000 residents in Riverside County. Overall, nearly one million county residents rely on Medi-Cal for health, mental health, and dental coverage.

Social service and community leaders are lauding the expansion as an important step to ensuring that older, low-income adults can access preventative health, dental and behavioral health services. Previously, adults 50 and older without legal status could access Medi-Cal benefits only in emergencies.

Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez said that the historic move would help many hard-working residents from the eastern Coachella Valley gain access to quality services that can help them prevent and manage chronic illnesses.

“We have a victory today, because we appreciate that we have the political will and the courage to finally, after 30 years of struggle, ensure that people who are 50 years of age have access to Medi-Cal so they can have health care,” said Supervisor Perez. “I am really proud of the fact that our departments of Public Social Services and Public Health are partnering with TODEC Legal Center and our health care industries to ensure we are able to enroll folks and that ultimately people have access to health care. Now that we have finally gained this reform, my commitment is that we implement the program on the ground for our folks daily.”

In the City of Coachella, which has a rich history as a rural and agricultural community in the desert, DPSS workers are fanning out to enroll older residents as they are in other parts of Riverside County. Applications for Medi-Cal may be submitted at BenefitsCal.com, or by calling 1-877-410-8827.

“This is an important milestone for our residents,” said Riverside County Board Chair and Fifth District Supervisor Jeff Hewitt. “This expansion will help bring reliable social services to our most vulnerable populations who depend on Medi-Cal for their primary care. I look forward to the program’s success and thank all of our partners who continue to advocate for dependable access.”

Isabel Coronel, a 77-year-old retired farmworker, said she knew many like herself would benefit from the expansion. Coronel mentioned that COVID-19 had impacted her and others with limited access to health care during the pandemic. “I am glad that I am still alive to witness this moment,” she said. “Many of us are not here to benefit.”

Allison Gonzalez, assistant director of DPSS, said the Medi-Cal expansion will also improve the financial security for older adults who enroll. “We are committed to reaching our residents in linguistically and culturally appropriate ways so that anyone who qualifies can sign up and enjoy a healthier life and overall wellbeing,” Gonzalez said.

Medi-Cal provides free or low-cost health coverage for low-income people and families, pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities. In March, there were close to 860,000 county residents enrolled in Medi-Cal. Statewide, there are about 14.5 million.

*Note to reporters: If you would like to visit an upcoming enrollment event or interview a Medi-Cal expert, please contact Angela Maria Naso at 951-660-1925 or anaso@rivco.org.

 

Marivel Castañeda, a DPSS outreach worker, interviews Isabel Coronel, 77, during a Medi-Cal enrollment campaign event held at the TODEC Legal Center in Coachella on April 28.

 

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