Neidorff says Centene-Magellan deal nearing finish line

Centene CEO Michael Neidorff offered an update on the status of the company's planned acquisition of Magellan Health. (Centene)

Centene Corporation CEO Michael Neidorff said the insurer is on track to close its acquisition of Magellan Health in short order.

Neidorff said during an appearance at CNBC's Healthy Returns Summit on Tuesday that the $2.2 billion deal has cleared review from the Department of Justice and is awaiting approval in two more states soon.

He said Centene has also been working closely with California regulators to secure approval there and that the acquisition should close in the first half of the year. The deal was first announced in January, and, when finalized, will create one of the country's largest behavioral health platforms with 41 million members.

Magellan will operate under Centene's HealthCare Enterprises arm.

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Neidorff said the acquisition reflects the value Centene places on uniting physical and mental healthcare.

"Magellan Health has a large behavioral health practice, and we believe you have to treat the whole person," he said.

Neidorff said an example of this at work could be for a patient who is newly diagnosed with diabetes. Not only could their care team work on their physical health and manage their condition, but the patient could also be referred to a psychiatric specialist who could help them manage any emotional issues related to the condition.

Or, an expectant mother could be connected with a behavioral health provider ahead of giving birth to establish a relationship should they need care for postpartum depression.

A more integrated approach to care can mitigate costs, he said, as improving behavioral health could improve physical health in tandem, or vice versa. He added that the pandemic has helped to erode longstanding stigma around mental health needs, encouraging people to seek the care they need.

"I am pleased that having that need no longer has a stigma associated with it," Neidorff said.