FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Gov. Gavin Newsom during his visit to Fresno Tuesday signed AB 133, a health care bill that would expand full-scope Medi-Cal to low-income Californians, regardless of immigration status.
“Regardless of their ability to pay, regardless of their preexisting conditions and regardless of their immigration status,” Newsom said.
Newsom made the announcement at Clinica Sierra Vista Elm Community Health Center. The state estimates approximately 235,000 undocumented Californians aged 50 years old and older could benefit.
Lorenza Cortez-Barrera and her partner Eleuterio Mexicano-Gonzalez watched as Newsom signed the bill.
Lorenza lost her eyesight a couple of years ago and Eleuterio says he hasn’t been working since 2018 because he needs to take care of her.
Lorenza said she didn’t have health insurance to cover the costs for her eyes and health. Both thanked Newsom as they shared an emotional moment.
“It gives us joy to know that they’re going to give us medical attention,” Eleuterio said.
Lorenza and Newsom shared an emotional moment as she thanked him, with tears in both their eyes.
“We recognize that we’re just at a point on a journey to universal healthcare,” Newsom said.
This would not go into effect immediately, Newsom said, but it would be implemented in the next couple of years.
“The expansion of coverage 50+, which implements around May 1, 2022, and then comes fully effective over the course of years,” Newsom said.
The healthcare bill also includes a number of other components, including the creation of a system that supports and routinely screens those 25 years of age and younger for emerging and existing behavioral needs. It includes the creation of a statewide portal to connect young people with telehealth visits.
Among those who joined Newsom was Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, who talked about how the pandemic highlighted that there are communities much more vulnerable in the Valley to COVID-19 and other illnesses.
“Everyone is entitled to be healthy and I honestly really believe that,” Dyer said.
Newsom’s visit also comes amid rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in an area of the state vulnerable to the delta variant.
Most recent data shows that just about 56% of Fresno County’s eligible population is vaccinated with at least one dose — a significantly lower number to the 75% of eligible residents vaccinated with at least one dose statewide.
“Gives you a sense of urgency of this moment and the imperative importance of people getting vaccinated,” Newsom said. “We’re never going to give up. We’re going to meet people where they’re at.”