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Centene Moving Ahead With Office Project in Charlotte

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What You Need to Know

  • The Centene chairman criticized the Missouri legislature for not expanding Medicaid as voters wanted.
  • The new Charlotte, North Carolina offices could have room for a total of 6,000 employees.
  • Features will include solar electric car charging stations and a health care clinic.

Outsiders are wondering whether there might be more than an appreciation for North Carolina’s mild weather behind Centene Corp.’s move to build large new offices in Charlotte, North Carolina, rather than around its current headquarters location, in Clayton, Missouri.

Centene was founded in Milwaukee, in 1984, and has had its headquarters in Clayton, a St. Louis suburb, since 1997.

The health insurer dedicated a new East Coast headquarters complex located in Charlotte earlier this week.

Centene also has a West Coast campus in Sacramento, California.

Sources of Friction

Centene is best known as a manager of Medicaid plans and other public health programs, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program plans.

It also is a large player in the Affordable Care Act public exchange plan market.

In recent years, the company has struggled to expand quickly enough in the area around Clayton to accommodate its rapid enrollment growth.

In July 2020, Centene said it would build more offices in North Carolina, rather than around Clayton, because of the high crime rate in St. Louis.

A few weeks later, Missouri voters approved a Medicaid expansion ballot measure. The ballot measure calls for Medicaid expansion to take effect in Missouri by July 1, 2021.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, has declined to expand the state’s Medicaid program, saying that state lawmakers did not appropriate the funding needed to implement program expansion.

Democratic officials in the state and consumer groups are suing to seek a court order requiring Missouri to expand Medicaid eligibility.

Centene Chairman Michael Neidorff criticized Missouri’s failure to expand Medicaid in a recent interview with Health Payer Specialist.

The Offices

Centene says it has committed to spending $1 billion in Charlotte over time time. It  broke ground on the Charlotte offices in August 2020 and hopes to complete work on the first phase in 2022.

The company hopes to start a second phase in 2024. The second phase will add 1.6 million square feet of office space, bringing the total to 2.4 million square feet.

When completed, the offices will have enough room to accommodate 6,000 employees, Centene said.

Complex features will include cafes, a fitness center, a child care center, a stand-alone training center and solar electric car charging stations.

The company employed 600 people in North Carolina before it began building the new offices and has hired about 700 in the past 12 months.

A cafe at Centene’s new East Coast headquarters offices in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Image: Centene)