California Gov. Gavin Newson held a press conference July 27 to address the signing of AB-133, legislation that has opened Medi-Cal access to undocumented California residents.
The passing of AB-133 will make Medi-Cal coverage accessible to an estimated 250,000 Californians, according to Newsom. Residents ages 50 and older will be eligible for Medi-Cal benefits regardless of immigration status.
“We started this year thinking it would be a terrible budget year, then we were able to see that the very wealthy did very, very well,” Senator Talamantes Eggman said at the press conference, describing the changes AB-133 would bring to California’s medical system. “It shows by the excess of money we were able to have, so what better use of all of that money of people who have done very well than help those who have helped them do so well.”
California leaders said that AB-133 will help assist frontline workers who were working through the pandemic.
Beyond Medi-Cal coverage, it will also “lead the way” with the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, assembly member Dr. Joaquin Arambula said. This will focus on a prevention-based behavioral health system that applies to Californians 25 years old and younger, according to California’s official website.
Among the services offered by the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative is telehealth — a new mode of diagnosing health treatment virtually and telephonically, “so you don’t have to drive all day,” Senator Talamantes Eggman said.
Telehealth is covered under Medi-Cal, making it one of the services that will be available to an estimated 250,000 Californians. According to Newsom, the opportunity to use telehealth until 2022 is “another critical component of this legislation.”
Jose Torres Casillas, a public health advocate for Health Access, spoke of the importance of AB-133 in expanding Medi-Cal access for California residents.
“People like my tios, tias, mis abuelos … they can go and access a primary care doctor, and get treated for the variety of chronic conditions that they may be experiencing as they are getting older now, or see about any other issues that may have been exacerbated by the pandemic,” Torres said.
Beatrice Hernandez, an undocumented representative for the California Immigrant Policy Center thanked Gov. Newsom for the passing of AB-133, which gives her access to Medi-Cal.
“We [undocumented immigrants] all contribute to the social fabric of this state,” Hernandez said.