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Lawmakers Restore Medi-Cal To Include Some Benefits Cut During Recession

— State lawmakers approved major enhancements to the Medi-Cal program. For the first time, low-income adults who don't have children will be eligible for Medi-Cal.

Photo by Terry J Alcorn

Dental care for adults was cut from Medi-Cal during the recession.

More Californians will soon be eligible for Medi-Cal coverage, but finding doctors willing to treat them may be a challenge.

The Medi-Cal expansion, approved Saturday, will also include immigrants who have become legal residents within the last five years.

In total, nearly 1.5 million more Californians will be eligible for Medi-Cal coverage.

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, said the application process will improve, too.

"This makes it easier for Californians to get on and stay on Medi-Cal," Wright said. "There won't be the semi-annual reporting that has happened in the past. It will be streamlined and simplified; really modernized for the 21st century."

In addition, beginning in May, adults will be entitled to dental benefits, including exams and full dentures. Those benefits were eliminated in 2009 when the state was mired in a budget crisis.

Lawmakers have not reversed a 10 percent pay cut for Medi-Cal providers. Doctors say that might mean patients will have trouble finding someone willing to treat them.

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