The Affordable Care Act (ACA a.k.a. “Obamacare”) took full effect in numerous ways in January. The ACA is changing the status quo and altering the ways and means in which many people will receive their health care.

For CenCal Health, by far the biggest impact of the ACA is the expansion of Medi-Cal eligibility up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Translated into numbers that make sense, over the next 24 months, there may be an additional 30,000 individuals eligible for Medi-Cal in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

“Here at CenCal Health, we’ve been preparing for this expansion during most of 2013 and feel confident that this new population will integrate successfully into our delivery network,” said Bob Freeman, CenCal Health CEO. “We think at the end of the day the Medi-Cal expansion will provide substantial assistance to those who have little or no access to health care today. We believe that they will be receiving top quality health care when they may not have been before and they will be much better off because of it. That will be a good thing for 2014 and beyond.”

In Santa Barbara County, many agencies, most prominently the Santa Barbara County departments of Social Services and Public Health, are assisting people in obtaining coverage/insurance under the Affordable Care Act. In Santa Barbara County, it is estimated that through mid-January, at least 1,800 individuals/families have become enrolled as a result of the applications that have been submitted thus far.

In San Luis Obispo County, nearly 2,300 new Medi-Cal applicants have received coverage, and approximately 1,000 applications are still pending. Many agencies are also assisting individuals and families in SLO County.

Once these individuals become enrolled in CenCal Health, the plan reaches out to them in several ways. New members are given assistance to help them to select a primary care physician, arrange for interpreter services if needed, solve problems, and help members navigate their new health plan, amongst many other services.

According to the California Department of Health Care Services, there are currently 8.5 million people enrolled in Medi-Cal. The agency predicts that Medi-Cal expansion through the ACA will make one million to two million new people eligible for Medi-Cal in 2014. Locally, the number of new CenCal Health members is at or above our expectations, and the plan expects a large influx of newly eligible members in February and beyond.

About CenCal Health

CenCal Health administers several publicly-sponsored health care programs for low income residents of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. 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. Its Board of Directors is composed of local government, physicians, hospital, member, other health care provider and business representatives. For more information, visit


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