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Centene CEO: Missouri Medicaid decision an ‘embarrassment’

May 19, 2021 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The CEO of Centene Corp. has called Missouri an “embarrassment” after Republican Gov. Mike Parson and the GOP-controlled Legislature failed to approve funding for voter-approved Medicaid expansion.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that Centene chief Michael Neidorff made the comments to Health Payer Specialist, a health industry trade publication.

“As the largest provider of Medicaid in the United States and a Fortune 42 company I have to ask myself, ‘Why am I in this state?’” Neidorff said. “This is a state that frowns on this business — what am I doing here?”

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“It’s an embarrassment,” he added.

The comment raised further concern about Centene’s future in the St. Louis area, where it is among the region’s largest employers. Centene announced it June it would add thousands of jobs in North Carolina, rather than St. Louis County, with Neidorff citing worries about crime in St. Louis.

Medicaid expansion, approved by voters in August, would bring health coverage to 275,000 low-income adults starting in July. But without funding, it is expected to end up in court.

In an emailed statement, Parson said Medicaid expansion can’t proceed without a revenue source or funding from the Legislature. He said he is “grateful for Centene’s investments in Missouri.”