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Newsom promotes Medi-Cal expansion plan during Kern County visit

Newsom press conference

Governor Gavin Newsom visited a Kern County health clinic Tuesday to promote his proposal to expand healthcare to all California residents. As of this year, low-income, undocumented residents up to age 26 and ages 50 years and older qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income health insurance program.

At a press conference in front of Clinica Sierra Vista, Newsom said his proposal would close the gap by expanding Medi-Cal benefits to undocumented residents ages 27 to 49 years old.

“Those are people regardless of their immigration status that pay billions of dollars a year in taxes each and every year in the state of California,” he said.

Coverage would begin on Jan. 1, 2024 and is expected to cost about $819 million to launch. The proposal will cost $2.7 billion a year moving forward, Newsom said.

Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta said this is a historic moment.

“We are going to be the first in the nation, the United States of America, that is finally going to recognize our immigrants and give them the kind of health care that they need,” she said.

The proposal still needs to be approved by lawmakers but Newsom says he is confident it will pass.

Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.