California’s Medi-Cal expansion to offer relief for older immigrants without legal status

California
Jonatan Gutierrez, foreground, and parents Rocio Urzua and Pablo Gutierrez are shown at home in Santa Ana on July 2. Medi-Cal expansion will offer relief to income-eligible adults 50 and older regardless of immigration status. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Jonatan Gutierrez, foreground, and parents Rocio Urzua and Pablo Gutierrez are shown at home in Santa Ana on July 2. Medi-Cal expansion will offer relief to income-eligible adults 50 and older regardless of immigration status. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

There’s a calculation Jonatan Gutierrez knows too well, a cost-benefit analysis uninsured Californians make daily: Is the pain or illness worth the cost of seeing a doctor or walking into an emergency room?

Gutierrez has watched his parents navigate that uncertainty. At times, the 32-year-old has lived it himself. Despite qualifying based on earnings for the state’s healthcare program for low-income residents, Gutierrez and his parents are not eligible for Medi-Cal because they are living in the country illegally.

“My dad has not wanted to go to the doctor,” Gutierrez said. “He would refuse to see a doctor because, he would say, ‘Why would we spend money we don’t have?’”

But that calculation is about to change for Gutierrez and his family. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Tuesday related to the state budget that would push California further out front in erasing the lines between which safety net programs undocumented people qualify for. Low-income Californians 50 and older will be eligible after May 1, 2022, for healthcare coverage regardless of immigration status under the law, a move that extends comprehensive benefits to approximately 235,000 residents living in the country illegally.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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