Referral Authorization Process

Learn more about RAFs

RAFs allow Primary Care Providers (PCPs) to refer their assigned members to a specialist for services outside of the PCPs practice scope. For more information see the CenCal Health Provider Manual.

Is a RAF required?

Referral Authorization Form (RAF) is required for all case managed CenCal Health members; however, there are a number of exceptions to this rule.  Please reference the list below for self referral services that do not require a referral or our RAF Exceptions list.  

Self-Referral Services

  • Family planning, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion and HIV testing
  • Acupuncture, chiropractic, audiology, physical
  • Therapy (Rx may be required)
  • Emergency services
  • First month of eligibility assigned to CenCal Health as Special Class and/or Members residing in a Long Term Care facility
Member is eligible with California Children’s Services (CCS)
  • Prior to July 1, 2018, Service Authorization Requests (SAR) or a Notice of Action (NOA) is required for all referrals and services related to the CCS eligible conditions for both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County.
  • Effective After July 1, 2018, RAFs will be required for all CenCal health CCS eligible members for both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County.  The county CCS Department will no longer issue SARs or an NOA for CenCal Health CCS eligible members.  If the authorized services are related to the CCS condition, CenCal Health will require the child to be seen by a CCS Paneled provider
  • SB County CCS  (805) 681-5360
  • SLO County CCS (805) 781-5527

Referrals to Out of Area Providers

Out of area, non-contracted providers require an approved Paper RAF for referral.

Follow the guidelines below:

  • Sample paper RAF
  • To order paper RAFs contact Provider Services at (805) 562-1676

Time Frames for Utilization Review

CenCal has the responsibility to review authorizations in a timely manner. The timeframes indicated below allow for the utilization management team to properly evaluate and determine for appropriateness of medical care services.

  • Emergency Care: No prior authorization required.
  • Routine authorizations: 5 working days with appropriate documentation. If further documentation is required allow up to 14 days.
  • Expedited authorizations: 3 working days. CenCal Health may extend the 3 working days’ time period by up to 14 calendar days if there is a need for additional information.
  • Retroactive authorizations: 5 working days with appropriate documentation. If further documentation is required allow up to 14 days Review determinations must occur within 30 calendar days of receipt of the request for coverage.

RAF Submission Process

Fax all supporting documentation to (805) 681-3071.

Ordering paper RAFs: Contact Provider Service: (805) 562-1676. Please provide NPI and Address.

RAF Status

  • Approved
    • The RAF has been approved for the specified date span.
    • The majority of RAFs will be processed and approved within 24 hours of receipt.
  • Pending/Sent for Review
    • The RAF requires manual review.
  • Denied
    • The returned RAF states specifically why the decision was made and a description of the appeal process will be attached.

RAF Review Process

The majority of RAFs will be processed and approved within 24 hours of receipt.

Below are examples of why a RAF may Pend for Review.

  • Referral to provider outside of Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo County, see Referrals to Out of Area Providers section
Member is under the age of 21 is referred to one of the following providers:
  • Cardiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • General Surgery
  • Neurological Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Nephrology
  • Oncology/Hematology
  • Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Pediatric Cardiology
  • Pediatric Neurology
  • Pediatric Nephrology
  • Pediatric Surgery
  • Pediatric Urology
  • Pediatric Gastroenterology
  • Rheumatology
  • Urology

RAF Appeal Process

If a provider receives a denial, deferral or modification of RAF , the provider may contact the physician reviewer or file an appeal by calling or writing to the address and/or phone number below.

CenCal Health
Health Services Department
4050 Calle Real
Santa Barbara, CA 93110
(805) 562-1820

Providers may appeal a denied or modified TAR by submitting the following documentation within 90 calendar days from the date of the original decision. 

Be sure to include these items in your documentation:

  • A copy of the original TAR and denial notification
  • A letter stating why denial or modification should be overturned
  • Documentation to support overturning the original denial or modification

Special Interest to PCPs

Below are examples of situations you may encounter when managing your RAFs.

CenCal Health can assist in the following areas when needed:

  • Retrospective RAF Request- a RAF can be obtained by contacting the member’s assigned PCP
  • ER or Hospital Follow up Visits- Issue a one-time consult
  • Member not established- Issue a one-time consult
  • Contact Provider Services if you are unable to obtain a RAF from the PCP at (805) 562-1676