Centene inks deal to buy Arkansas health plan from CHI
- After years of trying to unload its insurance business, Catholic Health Initiatives has found a buyer for its commercial plan in Arkansas. St. Louis-based Centene confirmed with Healthcare Dive it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase QualChoice Life and Health Insurance.
- At the end of 2017, Centene held the No. 3 spot for largest health plans in Arkansas, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. With this purchase, Centene is acquiring the fourth-largest player in the state, according to the Gazette's figures.
- The two companies will remain independent until clearing regulatory hurdles, a Centene spokesperson said.
CHI, one of the nation's largest health systems, decided in May 2016 it wanted to intensify its focus on population health and value-based payments. To achieve that aim and as part of a strategic realignment, the board believed it needed to shed its health insurance business and began seeking partners.
Rather than developing health insurance products and putting considerable capital behind the venture, the Englewood, Colorado-based system wanted to invest in its clinically integrated networks and aligning physicians throughout its existing markets, according to a recent annual report.
In 2018, CHI found a buyer for its Medicare Advantage plan in Washington state, a sale that is expected to close this year.
Centene is the largest Medicaid managed care company in the country with more than 7 million members. The payer attributed recent growth in revenue to program expansions in a number of states, including Arkansas.
Last year, Centene expanded its MA footprint by entering eight new states, including Arkansas. The company also recently began managing a special needs population in the state, including those with high behavioral health needs and intellectual disabilities, according to its latest annual report.
Centene also sells individual plans sold on the Affordable Care Act exchange in Arkansas.