Centene Selling Illinois Health Plan to CVS

Sale may help win approval of Centene merger with WellCare
Robert Calandra

Centene Corp. announced that it is selling its IlliniCare Health Plan to CVS Health, according to a .

The sale is designed to help Centene get state approval for its proposed merger with WellCare Health Plan. It will include the insurer’s Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans but not Centene’s Medicare-Medicaid Alignment Initiative business. It also does not affect the insurer’s statewide foster-care contract, set to begin in February, or its ACA exchange business in Illinois.

The sale is subject to the $17.3 billion merger closing, which is expected to happen in the first half of 2020. If it goes through, Centene and WellCare would become one of the largest insurers of government-sponsored health programs, serving 22 million people.

The companies have secured approvals from in 26 states, according to the magazine. Illinois was one of the final holdouts. To avoid anti-competition concerns, WellCare announced in September that it was selling its Missouri and Nebraska Medicaid plans to Anthem.

In late October, Centene CEO Michael Neidorff said that the companies were working with the Justice Department to close the merger.

According to Modern Healthcare, as of October Centene’s IlliniCare served 345,000 of the 2.1. million people enrolled in HealthChoices, the state’s managed Medicaid program. But even with the IlliniCare divestiture, a Centene and WellCare merger would control 54% of the market.