Following expansion of MediCal, officials call on Santa Clara County residents to apply and renew coverage – The Mercury News
GILROYWith the state expanding full MediCal coverage this month to include all Californians regardless of immigration status, Santa Clara county officials and health providers are urging county residents to enroll in and renew their MediCal coverage.
MediCal, the publicly-funded service which provides free and reduced-cost coverage to low-income California residents, covers nearly 480,000 people in Santa Clara County, or about one in four county residents.
A high proportion of those covered live in East Side San Jose and southern Santa Clara county, so officials met at the Social Services Agency in Gilroy to push the coverage at a news conference on Tuesday. In attendance were County Supervisor Sylvia Arenas, Gilroy city council member Rebeca Armendariz, superintendent of schools Mary Ann Dewan as well as representatives from county community health providers, with each speaker addressing the room in both English and Spanish.
“Healthcare is a human right,” said Arenas. “If we can help everyone now eligible for Medi-Cal coverage take action, this can be a huge step forward towards our goal of health coverage for all in Santa Clara County.”
Previously, undocumented immigrants had a restricted form of MediCal which did not offer coverage for routine preventative services, said Roseann Berthron-Arechiga, a business policy specialist at Santa Clara County Social Services. This meant that undocumented residents relied heavily on Emergency Room services for medical care.
Additionally, some immigrants might have avoided applying for fear that MediCal could mark them as a “public charge,” a status which could affect their green card applications.
“Knowing that the law says that, regardless of their immigration status,(our patients) could apply to MediCal is so so important and also vital to our mission to serve all in our system,” said Gerardo Solorio-Cortez, a primary care doctor at Valley Health Center at Gilroy, noting that over 60% of patients at his clinic are on MediCal. “Everyone who lives here in our county is part of our community and deserves high quality health care.”
For Arenas, the expansion rings a personal note.
At the conference, she recalled the death of her parents, who were immigrant farm workers who dealt with years of hard labor and exposure to pesticides. “I know that they did not have access to medical preventative care, and I think if they would have, they would have been with me a little bit longer,” said Arenas. “So I ask you as a daughter of an immigrant and the daughter of a farm worker to make sure that you let all of your loved ones know.”
At the same time, the officials urged residents with MediCal to renew their coverage. While renewal requirements statewide paused in response to COVID-19, they began again in June of 2023. While some MediCal recipients, such as those below the poverty line — $30,000 for a family of four — will benefit from automatic renewal, many of the thousands of MediCal recipients in Santa Clara County are at risk of losing coverage if they fail to update their information.
Residents can apply for MediCal at BenefitsCal.com. More information on renewing Medi-Cal coverage is available at KeepMediCalCoverage.org or in Spanish at mantengasumedical.org.
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