Medi-Cal Applications and Eligibility During the COVID-19 Public Emergency


Because of the COVID-19 emergency, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), which runs California’s Medi-Cal program, is putting policies in place to help people apply for Medi-Cal more easily or just keep existing coverage.

More information on COVID-19 is available here: and here

Medi-Cal is free or low-cost health care for low-income Californians. If approved, your Med-Cal starts the first day of the month your application was submitted. It’s now easier to apply for Medi-Cal.1 This publication tells you how to get Medi-Cal, how to keep it, and what to do if your Medi-Cal stops.  It also tells you about how to get Medi-Cal if you get COVID-19.

How can I get Medi-Cal right now?

Apply for Medi-Cal

You can apply for Medi-Cal online at or call 1-855-295-2023. 

The county has 45 days to decide. If you are applying for Medi-Cal based on a disability, the county has 90 days to decide.2 The county must decide about your Medi-Cal faster if you have an urgent medical need.3

Applying for Medi-Cal in a Hospital

A program called, Hospital Presumptive Eligibility (HPE) allows some people to receive short-term full-scope Medi-Cal while already in the hospital. The short-term coverage lasts 60 days.4 The HPE Program is temporary, no-cost Medi-Cal while applying for permanent Medi-Cal or other health coverage.  You must be low income for this program. This program is only offered in some hospitals. For a list of hospitals and clinics that participating in the HPE program, you can go here: HPE is limited to two (2) periods of presumptive eligibility in a twelve-month period, effective through December 31, 2020.5 Effective January 1, 2021, HPE will return to the regular limit of one (1) period of presumptive eligibility in a twelve-month period.6

Another program called Presumptive Eligibility (PE) for COVID-19 allows access to free COVID-19 testing & treatment.7 PE for COVID-19 is available for California residents who have no insurance or currently have private insurance that does not cover diagnostic testing, testing-related services, and treatment service for COVID-19, and who are not otherwise eligible for Medi-Cal.  Examples include people who have incomes that are too high for Medi-Cal, are underinsured, or are not eligible for Medi-Cal due to immigration status.8  PE for COVID-19 is not considered a public charge for immigration purposes.  PE for COVID-19 is short-term coverage that ends on the last day of the following month.9 This program is only offered in some hospitals. For information on qualified PE for COVID-19 hospitals, you can call (800) ​541-5555, Monday - Friday, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M or review the “HPE Provider Lists” located at the bottom of the webpage:

What do I need to apply?

Applying for Medi-Cal requires proof of your:

  • identity
  • social security card or immigration status
  • residence
  • income
  • resources to be eligible10

During this emergency, you may not need all documents. For some documents, you can submit a signed and dated statement instead.11

How can I keep my Medi-Cal during COVID-19? 

During this emergency, the state will continue all Medi-Cal coverage until the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.12 Counties must ensure people keep their Medi-Cal.13  This means, Counties cannot terminate or decrease your Medi-Cal benefits.14

  • During this emergency, you may be unable to pay your Medi-Cal premium. You may request that your monthly premium be waived.15 If you cannot pay your premiums because of school closures, unemployment, or other reasons as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis, you can call the phone numbers listed below, and let the representative know that you are having a hardship as a result of the COVID-19.
    • Medi-Cal Access Program (MCAP): You can call MCAP at 1-800-433-2611 Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. or on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
    • Optional Targeted Low-Income Children’s Program (OTLICP) and Medi-Cal Access Infant Program (MCAIP): You can call OTLICP or MCAIP at 1-800-880-5305 Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. or on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
    • County Children’s Health Initiative Program (CCHIP): You can call CCHIP at 1-833-912-2447 Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. or on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.  
    • 250 Percent Working Disabled Program (250% WDP):  You can call 250% WDP at 1-916-445-9891.

If you received a notice after March 16, 2020 that your Medi-Cal would terminate or decrease, then you should call your County to request that your Medi-Cal be reinstated. 

Counties must prioritize these requests to reinstate Medi-Cal benefits that have been terminated or decreased.16

If you receive a COVID-19 stimulus or rebate check, this will not count as income against your Medi-Cal.17 It also does not count as a resource for Medi-Cal until 12 months after. Note, if you live in a long-term care or assisted living facility, you should be able to keep you COVID-19 stimulus payment or rebate check.  This stimulus check is a tax credit which means long-term care and assisted living facilities should not be taking that money from you, even if you get Medi-Cal.18

If you receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, then it will be counted as income.19 If this is income is retained into the following month, then it will be counted as property.20 However, if you receive the $600 additional weekly payment, then this will not be counted in the income or property.21

What if I requested a Medi-Cal hearing?

The state will continue to have hearings. Specifically, individuals for whom the 90-day appeal deadline would have occurred between March 1, 2020 through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, are now allowed up to an additional 120 days to request a State Fair Hearing.22 This means that you have the initial 90-days from the date of your Notice of Action to request a hearing, plus an additional 120 days, for a total of up to 210 days. Hearings will be only by phone until further notice.23  You have a right to an in-person hearing. When the state contacts you, you can request an in-person hearing for the future.



1MEDIL 20-06 – (Return to main document)

2 42 C.F.R. § 435.911; Welf. & Inst. Code § 14154(d)(1); 22 CCR § 50177. – (Return to main document)

3 ACWDL 19-01 at p. 2. – (Return to main document)

4 ACWDL 19-01, – (Return to main document)

5 to main document)

6 ACWDL 14-14; MEDIL 14-48 (Oct. 1, 2014) – (Return to main document)

7 to main document)

8, to main document)

9, to main document)

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11 ACWDL 15-36; MEDIL 17-16; 22 C.C.R. § 50167(c). – (Return to main document)

12 Any beneficiaries in areas affected by public health crises or disasters that were discontinued due to not providing required documents may have their benefits reinstated to the previous benefit level and be allowed additional time to provide required documents., MEDIL 20-14, MEDIL 20-15 – (Return to main document)

13 MEDIL 20-07, MEDIL 20-08, ACWDL 19-01 at p. 3, MEDIL 20-14, MEDIL 20-15 – (Return to main document)

14 MEDIL 20-07, MEDIL 20-08, MEDIL 20-14, MEDIL 20-15 – (Return to main document)

15 MEDIL 20-07, MEDIL 20-08, ACWDL 19-01 at p. 4, MEDIL 20-14, MEDIL 20-15 – (Return to main document)

16 MEDIL 20-08, MEDIL 20-14, MEDIL 20-15 – (Return to main document)

17, to main document)

18, – (Return to main document)

19 DHCS MEDIL 20-09 (April 27, 2020) - to main document)

20 DHCS MEDIL 20-09 (April 27, 2020) - to main document)

21 DHCS MEDIL 20-09 (April 27, 2020) - to main document)

22 to main document)

23 to main document)