Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Centene Hopeful as Lawmakers Again Weigh Expansion of Medicaid Managed Care

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Centene Hopeful as Lawmakers Again Weigh Expansion of Medicaid Managed Care

Article excerpt

JEFFERSON CITY * Clayton-based Centene Corp. could finally make headway on its long-term goal to spread its business across the state, thanks to the Missouri Senate.

Senators narrowly approved a Department of Social Services budget last week that expands managed care of the Medicaid program.

The expansion would shift 200,000 parents and children receiving traditional Medicaid to privatized managed care, exempting the elderly, blind and disabled. This could mean more money for Centene, whose subsidiary, Home State Health Plan, was one of three companies awarded the state's managed care contracts.

Centene, which contributed more than $100,000 to Missouri lawmakers in 2014, has held the contract since 2012. The Office of Administration anticipates the contracts just recently awarded will have to be rebid if the House agrees to the expansion and the governor signs off on it.

The company referred all comments to Jewell Patek, lobbyist for the Missouri Association of Health Plans. Home State Health Plan is an association member.

"The companies I represent feel expanding managed care would be a benefit," Patek said. Providing "service to only part of the state doesn't allow them to do what they do best."

Currently, managed care services are provided in 53 counties and St. Louis, covering almost 440,000 of the state's 893,000 Medicaid participants. Centene was paid a total of nearly $360 million by the state to provide managed care services in fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, put the expansion in the department's budget, because he said it would save the state money.

The managed care company, a Fortune 500 company with contracts in 22 states, tries to cut the use of costly emergency rooms by focusing on preventive care encouraging patients to see primary care physicians, take their medications, keep their appointments and pursue healthy lifestyles. …

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