A lawmaker wanted some answers from Centene’s chief, but the Medicaid managed care company’s CEO, Michael Neidorff, only managed to tick Sen. Bob Casey off. Not to put too fine a point on it, the meeting last week between Neidorff and Casey “did not go well,” ProPublica and the Dallas Morning News jointly report.
“I thought they would try to persuade me that they were going to do better, but they didn’t seem interested in that at all,” Casey told the publications. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
Centene fired back in a statement: “Centene and its subsidiaries care deeply about each and every member we serve. We work tirelessly to ensure we provide the appropriate level of care for our members.”
In recent years, the company has grown into a $60-billion-a-year colossus that covers over 8.5 million Medicaid beneficiaries. That’s taxpayer money, as the story points out, and that alone meant that Neidorff should have been more cooperative, Casey implied.
What spurred the faceoff is controversy surrounding care given to D’ashon Morris, a Texas toddler living in a foster home and who suffers from severe birth defects. A request to give D’ashon 24/7 care was denied, and the toddler suffered brain damage when he was not in a nurse’s care. The child’s adoptive mother sued Centene subsidiary, Superior, and the case is currently tied up in the Texas courts.
“It’s not unusual for company officials facing a federal audit or investigation to meet with members of Congress to address concerns, but it is unusual for such meetings to spill into public view,” ProPublica and the Dallas Morning News report. “Casey said he sent the letter to CMS because of what he called Centene’s ‘cold and clinical’ defense of what happened in D’ashon’s case. He said it gave him concern about how the company cares for other patients—and what, if anything, regulators are doing when things go wrong.”