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Insurance Regulators Back Tampa-Based Wellcare-Centene Merger

WellCare sign denoting building
Tampa Tribune
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Insurance regulators in Florida and 16 other states have approved a proposed merger between Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans and Centene Corp., the managed-care companies said Thursday. 

The proposed $17.3 billion merger, announced in March, would combine two of the largest players in Florida’s Medicaid managed-care system.

It calls for the St. Louis-based Centene to buy WellCare but is subject to state and federal approvals.

A news release in June said the companies were working through approval processes in 26 states. The companies said Thursday that they had received approvals in Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington.

“With these approvals, we are building momentum as we move forward with the regulatory approvals process,” Michael F. Neidorff, Centene's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to continuing to demonstrate to the remaining state insurance regulators how our combination will enable us to improve quality for recipients, deliver fair compensation for providers and create savings for states.”

The companies said they expect the deal to be completed during the first half of 2020.