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Centene CEO calls Missouri Medicaid decision an ’embarrassment’

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The CEO of Centene Corp. has called Missouri an “embarrassment” after Gov. Mike Parson, who is Republican, and the GOP-controlled Legislature refused to approve funding for voter-approved Medicaid expansion.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that Centene chief Michael Neidorff made the comments to Health Payer Specialist, a health industry trade publication.

“As the largest provider of Medicaid in the United States and a Fortune 42 company I have to ask myself, ‘Why am I in this state?’” Neidorff said. “This is a state that frowns on this business — what am I doing here?”

“It’s an embarrassment,” he added.

The comment raised further concern about Centene’s future in the St. Louis area, where it is among the region’s largest employers. Centene announced last June that it would add thousands of jobs in North Carolina, rather than St. Louis County, with Neidorff citing worries about crime in St. Louis.

Medicaid expansion, approved by voters in August, would bring health coverage to 275,000 low-income adults starting in July. But without funding, the expansion is expected to end up in court.

In an emailed statement, Parson said Medicaid expansion couldn’t proceed without a revenue source or funding from the Legislature. He said he was “grateful for Centene’s investments in Missouri.”

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