Those 50 and older are encouraged to apply for Medi-Cal regardless of immigration status

May 11, 2022 /

On Tuesday, health care providers in partnership with Health4Kern and Building Healthy Communities Kern held a press conference at Clinica Sierra Vista to announce the new Medi-Cal expansion to undocumented individuals aged 50 and over starting May 1, 2022, and urge eligible community members to enroll.

Medi-Cal enrollees will not have to be concerned about being considered a “Public Charge” or affecting citizenship.

“We want to remind you that in times of uncertainty and fear we need to arm ourselves with facts,” said Eduardo Ramirez Castro, Associate Director of Sustainable Rural Communities Project and Full DOJ accredited Representative with California Legal Rural Assistance Foundation. “The fact is that if someone who is 50 and over and undocumented and who receives Medi-Cal cannot be deported solely for having been enrolled in this historic expansion. We encourage them to enroll in this program completely to enjoy its benefits and make use of all its resources.”

“It is a state-funded portion of Medi-Cal that is covering the services for this population, so there is no fear of public charge. It is services that have been funded specifically for them because they have not had access to those services in the past,” said Rodrigo Vazquez, Program Analyst with Dignity Health’s Community Health Initiative.

Full-Scope Medi-Cal is State-funded free health insurance that covers doctor’s visits, eye and dental care, prescription drugs, and more.

Prior to the expansion, “Medi-Cal for undocumented persons was restricted to emergency Medi-Cal which covered only life or death situation, but now it is going to be a complete open Medi-Cal for coverage which means now they will be able to have access to doctor visits if they feel ill, if they get hurt from doing their daily routines or anything that is not life-threatening they can get services for that. Before those services weren’t covered, now they are,” added Vasquez.

“It is important for us to let the patients [50 and over] know that if they had restrictions on their coverage now those restrictions automatically went away, so now they can come in and have the same coverage as anyone else,” said Dr. Olga Meave, Interim CEO of Clinica Sierra Vista.

According to the Department of Health Care Services, about 4,414 individuals will benefit from the new expansion and of those, 4079 speak Spanish.

For more information or additional questions, residents are encouraged to call Clinica Sierra Vista at 661-328-4245, Omni Family Health at 661-630-7350, or the Community Health Initiative of Kern County at 661-632-5018.

Community members that wish to enroll in Medi-Cal can also enroll by mail, in person, or online at

Erica Murillo

Erica Murillo is a project coordinator and reporter at South Kern Sol. She was born in Bakersfield, California, and her origin is from Guanajuato, Mexico. She is a first-generation graduate from California State University, Bakersfield where she earned a degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in English. Murillo's first job was working in the fields picking grapes. She has been able to evolve and continue to grow within her career. She can be reached at