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State Health Officials Recognize Medi-Cal 50th Anniversary


The California Department of Health Care Services is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the state’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal.

Medi-Cal was created in 1966 to provide health care for low-income children and for people living with a disability.

Jennifer Kent, director of DHCS, says the program has evolved over the years. She says big changes happened with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Under the health law, income eligibility was increased to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, which allowed more Californians to enroll in the program.

“We have added a significant number of people to the program who were previously uninsured or unable to get coverage,” she says.

More than four million people have enrolled in the program since ACA implementation. Nearly 14 million Californians receive health care through Medi-Cal.
Last week, a law allowing undocumented children comprehensive coverage through Medi-Cal took effect. Kent says she expects more than 200,000 of them to take advantage of the program.
“I think for a lot of people who are true advocates for believing that everyone deserves access to coverage, that was a pretty monumental shift in state policy and an important one,” Kent says.
Kent says the program will continue to change in order to meet the health care needs of Californians. She says the federal government approved the state’s 1115 waiver to modify Medi-Cal this past December.
DHCS will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medi-Cal with a panel discussion at the Sacramento Convention Center Tuesday afternoon.