LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- State and local hospital leaders gathered with activists this month to celebrate the expansion of Medi-Cal for undocumented immigrants 50 years of age and older.
"I am happy for myself and many people who need it," said Ramon Hernandez, who participated in the press conference. "There is an endless amount of treatments we can't access because we don't have Medi-Cal."
Ramon is among the newly 235,000 low-income undocumented Californians in the age group eligible for Medi-Cal. This is part of AB 133, the health care trailer bill Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law in late July.
Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, who represents the Los Angeles area explained part of the qualifications.
"You have to be Medi-Cal eligible. What that means is for one individual is $17,700 and below and for a couple it's about $25,000 and below," said Santiago.
The new law goes into effect in May 2022. According to officials, costs are expected to exceed $1 billion and will use taxpayer dollars.
"With the number of undocumented individuals in the A.A.P.I. community, this is going to be saving so many lives," said Erin Pak, ceo of Kheir Clinic.. "In my lifetime, I was not expecting this to happen in the state of California."
According to the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, California was the first state to extend medical coverage to all eligible undocumented young adults up to the age of 26. With A.B. 133, California is also the first in the nation to expand Medi-Cal to a new age group - making it the state with the most inclusive health coverage for low-income people in the country.
"The work continues. We have a gap between the ages of 25 and 50. But I am very confident that we will get through that. It's still hard work," said State Senator Maria Elena Durazo. "There is a greater consciousness that we should all have access to health care."