Longtime Centene Corp. Chairman and CEO Michael Neidorff died on Thursday after suffering a lengthy illness, the company confirmed.
Neidorff, 79, served as the head of the insurer for 26 years, growing the company from a $40 million, single health plan into the $125 billion healthcare company that manages care for 25 million people today. Neidorff planned to retire at the end of this year, but took a medical leave of absence six weeks ago.
Last month, Sarah London assumed his role as CEO, and was promoted from president of the company's non-insurance healthcare services and technology divisions. In an email, she called Neidorff a "visionary" who transformed care delivery in the U.S.
"I want to express our deepest condolences to Michael's family and loved ones," London wrote. "Michael's passion lives within the women and men of Centene, and his commitment to the mission of transforming the health of America's most vulnerable citizens lives on."
Neidorff has been named one of Modern Healthcare's 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare for several years for his work advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the healthcare industry.
"Michael made diversity and inclusion a central focus of his leadership, building an international corporation where women, people of color, LGBTQ, veterans, and people with disabilities all have opportunities to lead and excel," his family wrote in an obituary.
He was known for his philanthropy, and served as a chairman of the board of trustees for the National Urban League and on the board of directors for the Greater St. Louis Boy Scouts of America, the obituary said.
In the weeks following the civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, Neidorff spearheaded a $30 million investment in the community, "bringing much needed opportunity and hope to the region and anchoring small businesses in the community," the obituary said.
The family requested that memorial donations in his name may be sent to the Siteman Cancer Center, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra or the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.