Centene acquires NextLevel Health Partners
Centene acquires NextLevel Health Partners
… Centene Acquires NextLevel Health Partners …


Centene continues its aggressive growth through acquisition in heavily-regulated, high risk managed care market sectors

John G. Baresky

Centene (NYSE: CNC) continues to strategically expand with its purchase of Chicago, Illinois-based NextLevel Health Partners. The deal will enable Centene to add over 54,000 Medicaid members to its ranks and accomplishes something that one of its closest rivals, Molina Healthcare, was not able to achieve.

A small scale deal by Centene standards, it is deeply strategic for the company in market access terms

Centene will be aligning the acquired NextLevel membership within their Meridian Health Plan of Illinois portfolio of plans. Meridian has been operating in Illinois since 2008 and already has about 750,000 Medicare plan members. By conducting this smaller scale acquisition exercise, Centene adds to its membership, fortifies its position in a highly coveted urban market and successfully executes its market access strategy without incurring a large amount of debt.

The $15 billion acquisition of WellCare by Centene strengthened its position as a healthcare and pharmacy benefits payer

Some of the other sizable managed care organization acquisitions Centene has orchestrated include the purchases of Fidelis Care (New York State Catholic Health Plan) for $3.7 billion in 2017 and in 2016 Centene bought Health Net for $6.8 billion. By combining the mammoth acquisitions like these with WellCare plus the smaller-scale deals like the NextLevel purchase, helps Centene to fill the gaps in regional, state and metropolitan area coverage to further expand marketing and sales initiatives.

One of Centene’s direct competitors in the Medicaid and Medicare sectors, Molina Healthcare, recently acquired Magellan Complete Care for $820 million. Molina (NYSE: MOH) is trying to stay competitive and bolster the $16 billion in sales it generated in 2019. Earlier in 2020 Molina tried but failed to acquire NextLevel Health Partners.

Centene specializes in and excels by operating in deeply regulated and complex healthcare and pharmacy benefit sectors

Centene excels by specializing in these more administratively complex and heavily regulated sectors. These typically produce less income when compared to standard commercial health plans and large employer groups. Centene’s focus, level of experience and proven ability to simultaneously manage multiple challenges of risk, acquisition and regulatory changes provide them with a competitive edge. Founded in 1984 and headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri Centene generated almost $75 billion in 2019 and is ranked at number 51 in the Fortune 500.

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