BAKERSFIELD (KGET) – Thousands of undocumented migrants will now have access to healthcare, all in hopes to continue improving the health of the undocumented community.

This update to the Medi-Cal program will benefit those over the age of 50 and access began May 1st. In 2019, access was expanded to those under the age of 26 and since 2016, access to health care was granted to undocumented minors.

“This day totally changes lives,” said Carlos Vaquerano, Director of Monsignor Oscar Romero Clinics which assists the undocumented community in the Los Angeles area. “It’s significant for those that know what it’s like being sick and not having access to healthcare.”

The California Health Care Foundation reports that three million Californians lack basic health coverage and in the last year, half of all Californians delayed getting health services due to cost.

Uninsured migrants often wait until there is a serious medical emergency to seek medical attention. With this update over 235,000 undocumented, low-income Californians will have access to health care services thru Medi-Cal.

In January, Governor Newsom proposed as part of his ‘California Blueprint’, a full expansion of the Medi-Cal program to all eligible Californians regardless of immigration status, including an estimated 764,000 undocumented immigrants. If approved that proposal may take effect in January 2024.

Often, undocumented migrants will stay away from accessing social services because it is believed that it will affect any ongoing or future immigration processes. Under this new update, accessing healthcare thru Medi-Cal will not affect any processes.

“Most importantly is that legal status is no longer an issue,” said Rigoberto Reyes with the Office of Migrant Affairs. “[More migrants] will now have access healthcare, mental health, assistance with medications, dental and all other services.”

If you would like more information, you can call the Kern County Department of Human Services at (661) 631-6807.