Executives at Centene Corp. are hoping the federal regulatory environment for health insurance will turn out to be reasonably stable for the next year or two.
Michael Neidorff, the St. Louis-based health insurer’s chief executive officer, talked about the possibility of stability in federal health insurance policymaking Tuesday, during a conference call the company held to go over its first-quarter earnings with securities analysts.
David Wichmann, the CEO of UnitedHealth Group Inc., recently jolted investors by taking time during his company’s first-quarter earnings call to denounce the Democrats Medicare for All proposals.
Neidorff — who runs a company with major managed Medicaid plan operations, as well as some Medicare and commercial insurance operations — gave analysts a different perspective on federal health policy efforts.
“At this time,” Neidorff said, “we believe there is little appetite in Washington to revisit comprehensive health care reforms.”
During the period leading up to the 2020 general elections, the big health policy efforts may focus on reducing prescription drug costs and using private-sector solutions to improve the quality of health care and lower the cost, Neidorff said.
Centene is reporting $522 million in net income for the first quarter on $18 billion in revenue, compared with $345 million in net income on $13 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2018.
The company ended the quarter providing or administering health coverage for 15 million people, up from 13 million people a year earlier.
Medicare plan enrollment increased to 393,900, from 343,400.
Enrollment in Affordable Care Act (ACA) public exchange plans increased to 2 million, from 1.6 million.
The company noted that it expects to bring in about $2.5 billion more in revenue than it had originally predicted, in part because it expects its individual commercial health insurance business to bring in about $700 million in additional revenue this year.
Centene’s revenue grew so much partly because of its acquisition of the operations of Fidelis Care, a large, nonprofit health coverage provider based in New York state.
The company is now in the process of trying to acquire WellCare Health Plans Inc., a Tampa, Florida-based company best known for its Medicare plans.
Neidorff said Centene is “very pleased with the performance of Fidelis.”
Neidorff said the company is hoping it will be able to integrate with WellCare in 2020.
“I think 2020 will be a very strong year for Medicare on that basis,” Neidorff said.
Final 2020 Rules
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently released final sets of parameters regulations for the 2020 Medicare Advantage program and the 2020 ACA public exchange program.
Neidorff said the final CMS Medicare Advantage notice looked better than the company had expected.
Kevin Counihan, a Centene senior vice president, said Centene believes the final CMS 2020 exchange regulations will have a neutral or slightly positive effect on Centene’s performance.
— Read Centene to Pay $15 Billion to Join the Medicare Gorilla Table, on ThinkAdvisor.