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Medi-Cal Turns 50

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the national Medicare/Medicaid bill which passed both houses of Congress by an overwhelming vote. One year later, California Governor Edmund G. Brown signed a local version of the bill into law, the California Medical Assistance Program -- more widely known as Medi-Cal. 

Serving one in three California residents today, Medi-Cal is California’s largest health insurer.  The Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) joins the State of California Department of Health Care Services’ in observing the 50th Anniversary of Medi-Cal, celebrating its importance and how it serves as a safety net for millions who can’t afford health insurance or medical care.  

DPSS is the second largest social services agency in the United States and has earned a reputation as leader for its “Best Practices” in educating and creating awareness about the services we provide.  It is DPSS who is credited with helping the federal government reach its first-year enrollment goals as part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010.  The department enrolled 1.1 million people as part of the ACA and in the process.

The ACA opened an unprecedented window of opportunity to affordable health coverage for millions of uninsured and under-insured individuals in the county.  Health Care Reform not only expanded the number of L.A. County residents DPSS serves, it totally changed the way it did business.  The department’s responsibility was no longer to simply determine if a person were eligible for Medi-Cal, it also had to help select the health care plan or coverage that the applicant was eligible for.


Prior to the ACA, a significant number of men between the ages of 19-64 did not qualify for Medi-Cal.  This group is now eligible as part of the expanded population that now qualifies under the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) criteria. The department is currently outreaching to this demographic, collaborating with local community social service providers with community events to increase awareness and encourage enrollment.