Central Coast Primary Care Physicians Rewarded for Quality Care, Health Equity

Over $4 million in incentive funds distributed to high-performing Medi-Cal providers for first-quarter 2024

In April, CenCal Health, the Medi-Cal health plan for both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, distributed $4.2 million in quarterly payments to participating primary care providers through the Quality Care Incentive Program (QCIP). QCIP directly rewards CenCal Health plan providers who deliver exceptional medical care in their community, emphasizing the clinical priorities of significance to Medi-Cal members, such as diabetes and asthma care, breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings, and child and adolescent well-care visits. To promote health equity, QCIP payments are also tied to the diversity of members cared for by each provider. Payments to plan providers increase to reflect the proportion of patients of greater clinical complexity, for example, the aged or those disabled.

“To have communities that truly thrive, quality health care needs to be available to everyone,” said CenCal Health CEO Marina Owen (pictured center right with CenCal Health Board Member Dr. René Bravo, center left). “QCIP helps CenCal Health and the local provider community improve health outcomes. Through QCIP and our participating providers, health plan members receive exceptional diagnostic and preventative medical services that can make a significant difference in their overall health and wellness.”

The most recent QCIP distribution went to 87 primary care providers (PCPs) on the Central Coast – recipients can be single physician providers or physician groups. Top providers based on performance for the first quarter of 2024 (Jan–March) include Jeffrey Kaplan, MD Inc. Pediatric Medicine in Santa Maria (pictured far right); Santa Barbara pediatrician Augusto Castañeda, MD (pictured far left); Community Health Centers of the Central Coast – Advanced Primary Care; Pediatric Medical Group of Santa Maria, and Lompoc pediatrician Cindy Blifeld, MD.

“The power of this incentive program is that it encourages the use of evidence-based treatment, screening, and preventive health services, supporting the goal of delivering top quality patient care,” said Carlos Hernandez, CenCal Health Executive Quality & Population Health Officer. “Some QCIP aspects of care that had the greatest improvement include medication management for people with depression, lead testing in children, and well-child visits before 15 months of age,” said Hernandez.

In January of this year, QCIP payments totaling $4.16 million were made to local Medi-Cal providers for the last quarter of 2023. Since the program’s launch in 2022, CenCal Health has distributed over $31 million in QCIP funds to participating Central Coast PCPs.

Sansum Clinic is another one of CenCal Health’s valued QCIP participants. “QCIP helps providers like Sansum by delivering both information and funding to more fully support the physician-patient relationship,” said Marjorie Newman, MD, Sansum Clinic Medical Director. “We are grateful for this innovative program that maximizes medical services – especially preventative care – on behalf of our patients.”

More information on CenCal Health is available at and on social media pages at Facebook and LinkedIn.

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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 nearly 240,000 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 four decades 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



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