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California Leaders Must Expand Comprehensive Medical Coverage to Undocumented Seniors

Publication Topics

Access to Health Care; Barriers to/Disparities in Health Care; COVID-19; Chronic Condition Prevalence; Elderly; Immigrant; Low-Income; Uninsured; Medicaid/Medi-Cal; Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; Hispanic/Latino

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External Publication

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<a onclick="OpenPopUpPage('http:\u002f\\u002f_layouts\u002flistform.aspx?PageType=4\u0026ListId={7AAD61FA-4BCB-48C0-B0B7-87AFDC3673EF}\u0026ID=1585\u0026RootFolder=*', RefreshPage); return false;" href=";ListId={7AAD61FA-4BCB-48C0-B0B7-87AFDC3673EF}&amp;ID=1585&amp;RootFolder=*">Scott Graves</a>

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Summary: While COVID-19 affects people of all ages and backgrounds, some groups are at a higher risk of severe illness and even death. Seniors and people with chronic health conditions have the highest risk for severe illness from COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most U.S. seniors (85%) manage at least one chronic health condition, and 60% have at least two chronic conditions. Moreover, seniors are most likely to die from COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, nearly 3 in 4 Californians who have died from the disease are age 65 or older.

Findings: These data highlight the need for older adults to have access to comprehensive, quality health care services, which can reduce emergency room visits and help manage chronic health conditions. The risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19 are not distributed equally among older adults: Seniors of color face the greatest risks from the virus. In fact, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, multi-race, and Latinx adults age 65 or older in California have the highest rates of reported COVID-19 infection. Racial disparities are apparent in COVID-19 death rates as well. Specifically, Latinx seniors have the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths, followed by Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander and multi-race seniors. Many factors drive these infection and death disparities.

Californians who are undocumented make up the largest share of people who lack health coverage in the state. While they are part of the state’s social fabric and workforce, pay taxes, and make significant contributions to our society and economy, they generally lack access to and often cannot afford health care. In part, this is because undocumented Californians are less likely to have access to jobs that offer health insurance. In addition, racist policies adopted by the federal government exclude people who are undocumented from affordable health coverage options solely because of their immigration status.

While the COVID-19 vaccine is available to older adults regardless of immigration status, there is more work to do to address access barriers, such as targeted outreach to undocumented Californians. Research suggests that access to health care is a major factor for vaccination uptake, which is why expanding Medi-Cal to undocumented seniors can also play a vital role in increasing vaccination rates and building trust in undocumented communities. Policymakers can additionally begin to address other substantial barriers to health care and vaccination through tailoring services to seniors who may have physical disabilities, difficulties with technology or lack internet access, language barriers, and limited transportation capabilities.


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Report: California Leaders Must Expand Comprehensive Medical Coverage to Undocumented Seniors

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Press Release

Related Link 1

Related Policy Brief: Reducing Access Disparities in California by Insuring Low-Income Undocumented Adults

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Version: 3.0
Created at 5/18/2021 1:19 PM by i:0#.f|uclachissqlmembershipprovider|celeste
Last modified at 5/18/2021 4:23 PM by i:0#.f|uclachissqlmembershipprovider|celeste