After years of transformation, where is Medi-Cal headed?


Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

Ethnic Media Services (EMS) held an online symposium on June 18th with the topic on “After years of transformation, where will Medi-Cal go?”

Pamela Riley, Chief Health Equity Officer and Assistant Deputy Director, Quality and Population Health Management, Department of Health Care Services said, although California reached its lowest uninsured rate in 2022, many Californians still face barriers to accessing timely, quality and equitable health care.

These access gaps contribute to health disparities as underserved groups, particularly low-income individuals and people of color, experience higher morbidity and mortality.

Over the past decade, DHCS has made historic investments to eliminate health disparities through reforms to Medi-Cal, including: Expanding Medi-Cal to all low-income Californians, regardless of immigration status; eliminating the “asset test” requirement in consider only income when determining Medi-Cal eligibility; expand language access so members have access to interpretation services; and create new community supports to provide culturally responsive care beyond the doctor’s office, including housing assistance, nutritious meals and substance abuse treatment. We need to do our best to alleviate those inequities, so we have taken important steps to advance equity for MediCal members and all Californians. She said that’s why this year they made MediCal coverage eligible for people regardless of their immigration status, and today they have 15 million enrolled.

Debbie Toth, President and CEO, Choice in Aging said they were excited when DHCS asked them to interview a diverse range of participants about the healthcare experience. She emphasized that this is very important because DHCS had not done the job of reaching out to the community and humbly listening to the needs of the diverse population that lives in the state. There are multiple different identities and it is important for us to ask the questions and adapt the programming.

Michael Whalen, Program Director, The Bedford Center, Choice in Aging which provides day care for adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s, said they are a health center that brings together people of different experiences and addresses health needs, physical and emotional. He said MediCal listening sessions were definitely valuable and interesting. “Some of the challenges had to do with the fact that people’s cognitive abilities don’t allow them to clearly articulate what their vision for their healthcare service may be or where their gaps may be.

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