Medi-Cal Transformation Continues on Central Coast with New Community Supports

CenCal Health Community Supports (Courtesy)

By CenCal Health

Innovative health services focus on aiding members without housing, with substance abuse disorders and other social conditions that prevent improved health

Seeking to improve the Medi-Cal program for people with complex health needs and facing challenging life circumstances, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) established Community Supports – cost-effective services focused on providing assistance beyond traditional medical care. CenCal Health, the locally governed Medi-Cal health plan for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, currently offers members 10 Community Supports. Community Supports, offered through community partners, support members with health issues that are often caused or made worse by economic and social conditions, such as lack of food, housing, transportation and other non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. The goal of Community Supports is to help vulnerable members live healthier lives while reducing medical costs.


The latest four Community Supports now available to CenCal Health members are:

Day Habilitation
This support assists members currently or previously experiencing homelessness with training and help to develop or improve life skills they need to live successfully.


Short-term Post-Hospitalization Housing
This support helps individuals experiencing homelessness and with significant medical or behavioral health needs to continue their recovery after leaving a care or treatment facility.


Respite Services
This support is provided to members’ caregivers on a short-term basis if the caregiver must be absent or needs relief. Services can include light cleaning, cooking, laundry services, and rest.


Personal Care and Homemaker Services
This program supports members needing help with daily activities to live independently, like eating, personal hygiene, meal prep, etc., similar to In-Home Supportive Services. It aims to help members stay in their homes by assisting with basic needs and medical appointments.


In July, CenCal Health will add another four Community Supports programs. At that time, CenCal Health will be providing all of the State’s 14 Community Supports.


Joan Hartmann, 3rd District Santa Barbara County Supervisor, and a CenCal Health Board member, has long advocated for creating a safer, healthier community, and humanely addressing homelessness. “CenCal Health’s Community Supports program offers hope and dignity to the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Hartmann. “Compassionate care results in better health outcomes and is more efficient than relying on emergency hospitalization to help those in crisis. The result is a more equitable health system for all on the Central Coast.”


CenCal Health CEO Marina Owen further explained, “We are grateful for the opportunity to provide both preventative and whole-person care through innovative Community Supports that empower CenCal Health and our community partners to help those most in need to improve their health and wellness.”


In July 2022, CenCal Health began offering two Community Supports programs – Medically Tailored Meals and Recuperative Care – through contracted community-based organizations and other providers. The services include providing nutritious meals to members with certain medical conditions and care needs that made proper nutrition difficult and jeopardized their health or recovery. Recuperative Care offers post-hospitalization safe shelter and care for those experiencing homelessness and needing to recover after discharge from a medical event. By the end of December 2023, CenCal Health members had received nearly 15,000 meals and close to 6,000 days of post-hospitalization care through the two Community Supports.


In 2023, CenCal Health broadened its scope of services by including four additional supports that predominantly assist members who are homeless – or at risk of being homeless – in finding and maintaining housing. As of February 2024, more than 480 members had received housing-related support services.


Good Samaritan Shelter, based in Santa Maria, provides a range of Community Supports services, including emergency, transitional, and support services to the homeless and those in recovery throughout the greater Santa Maria Valley and Central Coast.  “When CenCal Health, the State and the community, back the idea of supporting a person who is unhoused for who they are – which is a person who needs housing – and also provide them with support and the coaching that they need to obtain and keep housing, that is how you end homelessness,” said Alexis Nshamamba, Good Samaritan Shelter Director of Housing and Quality Assurance.


More information on Community Supports for CenCal Health members is available at Organizations interested in becoming Community Supports providers, can learn more at


About CenCal Health

CenCal Health is the local Medi-Cal health plan that partners with over 5,000 local physicians, hospitals, and other providers in delivering health care services to over 241,000 members in its two-county service area – one in three residents of Santa Barbara County and one in four residents of San Luis Obispo County. Marking 41 years of serving the most vulnerable, CenCal Health prioritizes cultivating community partnerships; advancing quality and health equity; expanding its service role and reach in the community; and organizing for impact and effectiveness. With a vision to be a trusted leader in advancing health equity so that the communities we serve thrive and achieve optimal health, CenCal Health invites the public to review its 2024 Community Report at

CenCal Health Contact: Citlaly Santos (805) 685-9525 ext.9274

Media Contact: Sheri Mobley (213) 509-9816

_An Edhat Reader

Written by _An Edhat Reader

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