Molina Healthcare said today that it would buy Chicago-based Medicaid managed care plan NextLevel Health for about $50 million.
The deal gives Long Beach, Calif.-based Molina the right to serve more than 50,000 Medicaid and other members in Cook County, according to a statement. NextLevel is one of two plans that serves Medicaid managed care members only in Cook County while Molina has Medicaid managed care members statewide.
Molina's purchase of NextLevel would leave the Medicaid managed care program with with five insurance companies, down from seven in 2018 and 12 before that. The proposed merger of Centene and WellCare Health Plans would leave the state's Medicaid managed care program with only four insurers.
NextLevel had 54,554 Medicaid managed care members in October, according to the most recent data from the Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services, which oversees the program. With the new members, Molina would go from having 10 percent of the state's Medicaid managed care market to 12.6 percent.
NextLevel is run by Dr. Cheryl Whitaker, a longtime health care executive whose husband, Dr. Eric Whitaker, is known for his friendship with former President Barack Obama. It's one of six private health insurers awarded state contracts to administer Medicaid benefits under a managed care program intended to improve care and save money.
"We are delighted to expand our presence in Illinois as the state's higher acuity populations skew toward Molina's strengths," Pam Sanborn, president of Molina Healthcare of Illinois, said in the statement.
"NextLevel Health's community-based approach combines a culturally sensitive lens and the recognition of social determinants of health to provide Medicaid members access to quality care," Dr. Cheryl Whitaker said in the statement. "We are proud to join Molina and continue to positively impact our communities."
Publicly traded Molina is paying about $50 million in cash for NextLevel Health, "net of certain tax benefits."