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CenCal Health Is No. 1 on List of Best Places to Work

Jun 1, 2021

For Third Consecutive Year, Local Health Plan at Top of California Central Coast Survey

CenCal Health, the local Medi-Cal health plan was named the No. 1 best place to work by Pacific Coast Business Times in its 2021 survey of companies in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Determined by the results of an employee questionnaire and other criteria developed by the business weekly, CenCal Health also held the top spot in 2019, and second place in 2020 – last year Montecito Bank & Trust came in first. The full list of best places to work on the Central Coast for 2021 was published Friday.

CenCal Health is a community-accountable health plan that partners with over 1,500 local physicians, hospitals and other providers in delivering patient care to more than 200,000 members in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. The health plan contributes approximately $50 million a month into the local economy, primarily through payments to healthcare providers who serve its membership.

With offices in Santa Barbara and Goleta, CenCal Health employs more than 250 people. Employee positions include medical physicians and nurses, case managers, social workers, IT analysts, member and provider services representatives, as well as claims representatives. The public entity also collaborates with community-based organizations to address social determinants of health while increasing members’ access to medical care and reducing costs. Established in 1983, CenCal Health is the oldest managed care Medicaid plan of its kind in the nation.

“The past year has exemplified our staff’s adaptability and resilience through the Covid-19 crisis,” said CenCal Health CEO Bob Freeman. “To continue to accomplish our mission while working at home and juggling child care, child education, and other new realities, is a real testament to the quality and dedication of our employees.”

During the 2020/21 health crisis and lock-down, the health plan reported increased local enrollment in reaction to the job loss experienced, with the accompanying loss of health insurance. “Our agency has worked hard to reach out to those needing coverage,” said Freeman. “Many of the newly-eligible might not have heard of Medi-Cal, or never thought they’d qualify.”

In mid-2020, as child vaccination rates in the region plummeted, along with significant drops in cancer screenings, check-ups and other preventive care, CenCal Health launched a campaign called “Welcome Back to Care,” a series of English and Spanish public service announcements and TV commercials that addressed the community’s fears and supported local physicians. This was one of several pivots by the organization to communicate effectively with its employees, members, providers and the community during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

“Our priority to ensure the health and well-being of our team members and their families upholds a culture where staff has the ability to continue providing exceptional service to our members and the community, no matter the circumstances,” said CenCal Health Human Resources Director Kim Cowles. “This has allowed us to remain one of California’s top Medi-Cal health plans, and a best place to work on the Central Coast for the third consecutive year.”

Pacific Coast Business Times will honor all the Best Places to Work designees at a virtual event scheduled for June 24, where CenCal Health CEO Bob Freeman will participate in a panel discussion about maintaining positive workplace environments during challenging times. This fall, Freeman is retiring from CenCal Health after a successful 28-year tenure with the organization – the last decade as its CEO. CenCal Health’s annual Community Report can be viewed at

CenCal Health Contact:

Nicolette Worley Marselian (805) 685-9525 ext.1993

Media Contact:

Sheri Mobley (805) 845-5627, (213) 509-9816