About Us

We work with a vast network of dedicated and compassionate doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other types of providers and facilities that take care of our members. We presently have over 275 Primary care providers and more than 1250 specialists that provide care to our members. They give generously of their time and expertise. We also have a very dedicated board of directors that come from within our community. They donate their time to oversee and ensure the best outcome for our members, and oversee our budget.

We provide health coverage for 1 in 4 people in Santa Barbara County, and 1 in 5 in San Luis Obispo County. We hope you will see our commitment to our community here. CenCal Health is a great place to work, and there is information about joining our team within this section. We have been in operation since 1983, and are recognized nationally as the oldest Medicaid managed care program of its kind in the country.

We are Non-Profit Community-Based Health Care Organization

We contract with the State to administer Medi-Cal benefits through local care providers in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. CenCal Health is a public entity that is governed by our Board of Directors

A County Organized Health System (COHS) is a model of California’s Medi-Cal Managed Care Program, where a single entity administers the Medi-Cal Program in a service area. All Medi-Cal beneficiaries in the service area are automatically inscribed into the COHS program. Each COHS is created by a county board of supervisors and governed by an independent commission.

What is a Local Health Plan?

CenCal Health has created access to high quality health care for its members through contracts with local providers (physicians, clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.); and it coordinates care for its members through a primary care provider case management system, aided by numerous plan programs and activities. This case management system has resulted in high quality care with significant monetary savings by working with health care providers to deliver health care in a coordinated and efficient way.

Our program is now acknowledged to be the oldest Medicaid managed care program of its kind in the country.

What is a Local Health Plan?

CenCal Health has created access to high quality health care for its members through contracts with local providers (physicians, clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.); and it coordinates care for its members through a primary care provider case management system, aided by numerous plan programs and activities. This case management system has resulted in high quality care with significant monetary savings by working with health care providers to deliver health care in a coordinated and efficient way.

Our program is now acknowledged to be the oldest Medicaid managed care program of its kind in the country.

Report to the Community

Our Report to the Community is a personalized version of an Annual Report, filled with more than just our most recent financial information.

Within this report, and the inserts that accompany it, you will find:

  • Reports from our C.E.O.
  • See our service area and examples of the providers that contract with us.
  • Read stories about real members, and get a better idea of how we operate.
  • Meet our internal leadership team and our dedicated Board of Directors.

To read more, please view our Community Report

Our History

Under the leadership of Dr. Lawrence Hart, the “Santa Barbara Health Initiative,” was brought to life in 1983 in Santa Barbara County. The Santa Barbara Health Initiative became our agency name, and has since evolved significantly (now CenCal Health), although our mission remains the same.  

CenCal Health is a publicly-funded health care program designed for the low income residents of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

We are a public entity that is governed by a 13 member Board of Directors appointed by the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County Boards of Supervisors. Our Board of Directors is comprised of local government representatives, physicians, hospital representatives, member representatives, other health care provider representatives, and business representatives. Although a public entity, we must operate like a business, managing funds as efficiently as possible in carrying out our mission.

For 35 years, we have created access to high quality health care for our members through contracts with local and dedicated providers.

What began as a small pilot program has grown into a community health plan with a service area of two counties (Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County) where we cover 1 in 4 people in Santa Barbara County, and 1 in 5 in San Luis Obispo County. The program that began here is now acknowledged to be the oldest Medicaid-only managed care program of its kind in the country. We take pride in knowing that we are a local solution to a national problem.  

Our main program is Medi-Cal, which is California’s version of Medicaid.

We also administer smaller programs such as the Healthy Kids program, serving low income children, and the AIM (Access to Infants and Mothers) program serving low income pregnant women. Eligibility for these programs is determined by income status. Medi-Cal members are automatically inscribed into our program through the State of CA, while Healthy Kids and AIM members must apply and qualify based on specific income levels.    

Once members are in our system, they are able to choose a Primary Care Physician which will serve as their “medical home.” We have a dedicated bi-cultural and bi-lingual Member Services Department that is able to assist with member questions, appointment scheduling, arranging non-emergency transportation if required, and a host of other items.

We truly care about the well-being of our members, many of them medically fragile.

Who We Serve

CenCal Health’s membership ranges in age from newborn babies and children, to our senior citizens. Our population is made up of families, seniors, some who have Medicare and Medi-Cal, persons with disabilities, expectant moms, and now through the Affordable Care Act, single, childless adults ages 19 through 64. Gender is almost even and race/ethnicity is varied throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.
For a complete demographic breakdown as of December, 2018 click here


race 1218

Affordable Care Act Expansion

CenCal Health offers a program called the Health Initiative (Medi-Cal) for low income residents of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. Please note that CenCal Health does not determine eligibility for Covered California or Medi-Cal.

Health Initiative (Medi-Cal)

CenCal Health is the Medi-Cal Managed Care Health Plan for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties for low income residents.  Once a resident is granted Medi-Cal, they are automatically inscribed (enrolled) into the CenCal Health Plan. New Members receive a Welcome Packet that provides a Member Handbook also known as an Evidence of Coverage that explains the benefits available to members along with a listing of doctors, specialty providers, hospitals, pharmacies available to members of CenCal Health.  

Medi-Cal (California’s version of Medicaid), is a publicly-funded health care program for the low income residents. CenCal Health is a public entity that is governed by a 13 member Board of Directors appointed by the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo county boards of supervisors.

Medi-Cal ensures that children and adults with limited income and resources can receive medical, mental and behavioral health services at little or no cost. 

This low income program includes:
  • Families with children
  • Foster care children
  • Pregnant women
  • Childless adults
  • Seniors
  • Persons with disabilities

CenCal Health’s Medi-Cal Plan is your Managed Care Health Plan. Since starting in 1983, CenCal Health has created access to high quality health care for its members by contracting with many local doctors, specialists and hospitals in both counties.   

As a CenCal Health Member, you are able to choose a Primary Care Doctor that will help coordinate your medical care needs. CenCal Health provides medical, mental and behavioral health services. If you have a question about these services, please call our Member Service Department at (877) 814-1861 or CA Relay 711 for the hearing impaired. To view what benefits and services are available to you as a CenCal Health member, view the following link: Your Benefits/ Member Handbook

pie chart ACA

Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors is comprised of 13 members who are appointed by the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo county boards of supervisors. Our Board is composed of local government representatives, physicians, hospital representatives, member representatives, other health care provider representatives, and business representatives. Meet our Board Members.

Leadership Team

CenCal Health has a highly experienced leadership team with many years of experience in healthcare and leadership. Our Leadership Team is dedicated to improving the quality of healthcare in the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo communities. Meet our Leadership Team.

Advisory Committees

Our Board of Directors has participating physicians, pharmacy, hospital, Board of Supervisors, members and Public Health Officials.

Our Quality Improvement Structure also provides for participating physicians within the Quality Improvement, Credentialing and Peer Review Committees. The Provider and Community Advisory Boards also have participation by providers and members that also Liaison with the Board of Directors. Visit our Advisory Committees.