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As both Chair of the Budget Subcommittee #4 on State Administration, and Los Angeles’s 51st Assembly District representative, Assemblywoman Carrillo championed immediate action to allow low-income seniors and people with disabilities – who are most at risk of COVID-19 – to access health care services while maintaining their dignity and financial stability by eliminating the outdated Medi-Cal Asset Test
(Sacramento, CA) – Assembly Bill 470 eliminating the Medi-Cal assets test, authored by Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (AD-51, Los Angeles) and supported by seniors, Californians with disabilities, champions of healthcare rights, and anti-poverty advocates, passed the Assembly Floor today with bipartisan support.
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) eliminated the assets test for most Medi-Cal recipients, it remains in place for those over the age of 65. This remaining Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) asset limits has perpetuated poverty amongst seniors, Californians with disabilities, and other communities disproportionately impacted by poverty and inequity.
Kming Rosenthal is a 72-year old HIV-positive woman who lives on $15,000 a year and relies on Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program. Given her age, HIV and other chronic conditions, losing her healthcare coverage is a terrifying prospect that almost came true last year when she inherited $5,000. Ms. Rosenthal had a real need for the money she inherited, but she had to spend it very quickly so she wouldn't stay over the Medi-Cal asset-test limit for more than 30 days, thereby terminating her eligibility.
“A savings account should not cost anyone their healthcare. I authored AB 470 to eliminate the Medi-Cal assets test, because Californians like Kming Rosenthal – and every other senior and Californian with a disability – deserve both healthcare and financial stability,” explained Assemblywoman Carrillo.
“Healthcare is a right, and no one should be scared that they will lose it because they seek to protect themselves from a future financial emergency. The current Medi-Cal asset limit wrongfully prevents seniors from having adequate resources to weather a crisis. Once an adult turns 65 or becomes Medicare eligible, their Medi-Cal eligibility is determined by this restrictive set of rules that require them to have minimal assets to remain eligible. As a result, Californians who want to remain Medi-Cal eligible must deplete all of their resources just to keep their healthcare coverage,” she added.
Under the Medi-Cal Assets Test, individuals have been prohibited from savings or equivalent assets worth $2,000 or more, and couples have been prohibited from savings or equivalent assets worth $3,000 or more, in order to retain their health care coverage, regardless of how low their annual income may be. When faced with the decision of qualifying for Medi-Cal or having additional savings, most Californians have chosen to spend down their savings, as the costs of healthcare far exceed the dollar amount they've been able to save.
AB 470 would transform the lives of over 18,000 seniors and Californians with disabilities across the state who have been forced out of financial stability by an antiquated policy that has never served California or Californians, and make our State more Golden.
AB 470 now goes to the state Senate.
Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo was elected as the representative of the 51st Assembly District in December of 2017. She is the Chair of Budget SubCommittee #4 on State Administration, and a member of the Appropriations, Budget, Health, Privacy and Consumer Protection, and Utilities and Energy Committees, as well as Chair of the Uplifting Girls and Women of Color in California Select Committee. Assemblywoman Carrillo represents the people of East Los Angeles, Northeast Los Angeles, and the neighborhoods of El Sereno, Echo Park, Lincoln Heights, Chinatown and parts of Silver Lake.