Centene denies involvement in Medicare Advantage divestitures

Centene is not looking to acquire Aetna’s Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, according to the company’s senior executive, refuting a previous report that said the insurer was one of two companies bidding for Aetna’s assets.

In a second-quarter earnings call, Centene CEO Michael Neidorff flatly denied a Reuters report released earlier this month that indicated Centene and WellCare had placed competitive bids for Aetna’s MA plans covering 350,000 members. The planned sale has been a key part of Aetna’s strategy to convince Justice Department officials to approve its merger with Humana.  

“If there is any one thing that Centene is recognized for, is that it has not participated, and will not participate, in bidding in auctions,” Neidorff said in the call. “So anything that indicates that would have to be considered a rumor.”

Neidorff went on to say that because Centene’s existing MA plans focus on members at a “lower socioeconomic level,” the insurer is not does not have the network to take on members at a higher level, and it has no plans to establish such a network.   

A separate report published by Reuters last week named WellCare and Molina Healthcare as the two insurers bidding for the MA plans, as Aetna has vowed to “vigorously defend” its merger with Humana. As FierceHealthPayer previously reported, WellCare could move past Cigna for the fifth-largest MA enrollment if it secures Aetna’s divestitures.

- listen to Centene’s earnings call

- read the Reuters report