CalMatters: Thirty-year-old Medi-Cal income limit leaves some seniors without needed care (June 2, 2022)
California living is expensive. So imagine having to get by on $600 a month. That’s essentially what some seniors and people with disabilities have to do in order to access Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for low-income residents.
Individuals with significant medical expenses — but whose income is too high to qualify for free Medi-Cal — may still access the program if they pay some of the costs.
That share of cost works like a monthly deductible; people are allowed to keep $600 for personal use and must spend the rest of their income on health care expenses before their Medi-Cal coverage kicks in.
“If you make $1,600 a month, $1,000 has to go toward paying for your care,” said Tiffany Huyenh-Cho, a staff attorney at Justice in Aging, an organization that is urging state lawmakers to update the income rule. Because people using this type of Medi-Cal usually have costly care, for some it’s worth paying, but most can’t afford it, she said.
Aging and health advocates are now asking legislators and the governor’s office to allow Medi-Cal recipients who need to pay a share of cost to keep more of their income. Assembly Bill 1900 by Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula, a Fresno Democrat, proposes to raise the monthly limit from $600 for an individual, which is about 55% of the federal poverty level, to $1,562, or 138% of the federal poverty level.
Arambula’s bill made it out of the Assembly last week and is now before the Senate.