Longtime Centene CEO Michael Neidorff dies at 79

Longtime Centene Corporation CEO Michael Neidorff has died, the company confirmed Thursday.

Neidorff was 79. He had helmed the insurance company for nearly three decades, shepherding its growth to a mammoth player in government insurance. 

“Michael was Centene Corporation’s visionary leader for more than 25 years,” the company said in a statement. “He built a remarkable American business success story and his commitment to providing affordable, high quality health care to the most vulnerable people transformed lives across the globe.”

A cause of death was not disclosed, though the obituary released by Centene said Neidorff had a "lengthy illness."

When Neidorff stepped into the CEO role at Centene, the company earned revenues of about $40 billion. That's grown to more than $125 billion in 2021, as the insurer led the charge on the Affordable Care Act's exchanges and in Medicaid managed care.

Neidorff spearheaded the company's acquisition of rival WellCare Health Plans, a deal that established one of the country's largest sponsors of government plans.

Neidorff took a medical leave of absence from the company on Feb. 25, and announced plans to retire in December. Centene recently named Sarah London as its new CEO.

AHIP CEO Matt Eyles called Neidorff a "tireless advocate for improving the health and well-being of Americans."

“With his vision, insight, and determination, Michael was a highly respected leader who leaves a legacy of positive change – for patients, for communities, and for the health care system," Eyles said. "As a member of the AHIP Board of Directors, Michael was passionate about new approaches to improve the health of people, families, and communities, and we all benefited greatly from his leadership. We at AHIP will dearly miss him, and we are grateful for his many contributions to support better health, better communities, and better lives for so many.”