CenCal Health Welcomes New Medical Director

CenCal Health Welcomes New Medical Director
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CenCal Health, the publicly-sponsored health plan for Medi-Cal in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, announces the appointment of Dr. Keith Emmons as its new Medical Director. Emmons will initially lead the department of Health Services’ efforts in outpatient and inpatient medical support, and case management. The former practicing general surgeon possesses more than 20 years of experience in medical management oversight of health plans, specializing in quality of care, utilization management, and case management, among other concentrations. With his extensive background in managed-care systems, Emmons will support the health plan’s endeavors to uphold quality initiatives that promote efficient access to medical care for more than 180,000 CenCal Health members.

Keith Emmons, M.D., MPH obtained his medical degree from the University of Illinois in 1980. After graduating, he continued his academic pursuits at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he obtained a master’s degree in public health in 1996. Emmons — certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine — practiced as a surgeon in Burbank, Calif., before transitioning to a career in healthcare administration. He has worked at multiple health plans including UHP Healthcare, WellPoint Health Networks, Inc. (Blue Cross of California predecessor), and most recently United HealthCare. His past responsibilities as medical director and Chief Medical Officer included working with providers in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Due to his experience, Emmons is notably familiar with many of CenCal Health’s network providers in its two counties of service. He will report to CenCal Health Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Karen Hord.

“We look forward to having another experienced ‘Doctor in the House,’ ” said Hord. “Dr. Emmons brings a wealth of both clinical and insurance industry knowledge and experience. We are excited to welcome him to CenCal Health and the Central Coast communities.”

In addition to his responsibilities in healthcare management, Emmons has affiliated with multiple universities throughout his career, such as UCLA. Other present-day leadership assignations include serving as a member delegate for the National Medical Association’s Education Committee, and membership in the California Medical Association.

“CenCal Health represents a fundamental component of healthcare, which I am so passionate about — helping people in need,” said Emmons. “I feel inspired to join my new colleagues as we work together to support communities with limited resources in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. At this point in my career, my focus is giving back to others.”

Born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised in Chicago, Emmons enjoys swimming, reading history, and learning jazz piano during his leisure time. He currently lives in Los Angeles and plans on moving to Santa Barbara County once the COVID-19 pandemic allows.

About CenCal Health
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 180,000 members– about one in four residents of Santa Barbara County and one in five residents of San Luis Obispo County. A public agency, the health plan contributes approximately $50 million a month into the local economy, primarily through payments to healthcare providers who serve its membership. Established in 1983, it is the oldest managed care Medicaid plan of its kind in the nation. cencalhealth.org

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