Your Health Matters


Kern County health organizations urge residents to renew Medi-Cal coverage

Building Healthy Communities and the Health4Kern Coalition are making sure Kern County families are aware of their options.
Building Healthy Communities Kern County
Posted at 5:58 PM, May 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-09 21:30:12-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — At the beginning of April, Medi-Cal recipients were reminded to renew their healthcare coverage. This is the first time people have had to renew coverage since the pandemic began and the federal government suspended that requirement.

In Kern County, Building Healthy Communities through the Health4Kern campaign are making sure Kern County families are aware of their options.

"We don't want people to stop prioritizing their health care by not renewing their Medi-Cal," said Reyna Olaguez, President and CEO of Building Healthy Communities.

Olaguez wants all eligible Kern County residents to sign up for health care coverage regardless of immigration status.

"We also wanted to urge people that if they are delaying health care because they are undocumented, there's different programs available. One of them is a medical expansion that just went in effect that provides medical insurance for folks 50 and over," said Olaguez.

Clinica Sierra Vista Nurse Practitioner Javier Hernandez says it's important for people to seek care as soon as they can to prevent potential future health complications.

"Treating a disease before it starts is a lot easier than when it actually happens," said Hernandez. "Imagine in the words of cancer, for example. It's a lot easier to detect the cancer and treat it early than when it expands to other areas."

Olaguez adds that in Kern County, a higher-than-average number of people die from asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - COPD.

"In Kern County, we also have folks dying of asthma at higher rates than other Californians, and so we want to make sure that people know this statistic so they could make decisions to go see their doctor and get checked up before it's too late," said Olaguez.

Data from Kern County Public Health also shows that more Kern residents die from diabetes compared to the rest of the state. 43 per 100,000 Kern residents die of diabetic complications compared to California's average of 22 per 100,000.

And when it comes to coronary heart disease, 116 per 100,000 Kern residents die compared to 80 per 100,000 across the state.

Hernandez says this is why county health agencies have resources available for everyone.

"We communicate with our patients in regards to the importance of getting vaccinated, getting their labs done, getting the routine checkups done, in order to make sure that we have healthy communities," said Hernandez.

On April 26, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a proposed rule aimed at expanding health coverage options for certain recipients of DACA. Public comments on this proposed rule are open until June 23.

Olaguez says if the rule is adopted, they anticipate thousands of DACA recipients in the San Joaquin Valley will become eligible for public health care insurance.