CLAYTON (KMOX) -- The CEO of the St. Louis area's largest public company is warning of imminent departure. Centene CEO Michael Neidorff tells a trade publication that Missouri is now "an embarrassment."
After the state legislature refused to fund the voter-approved and constitutionally-mandated expansion of Medicaid health coverage, he said: "This is a state that frowns on (our) business -- what am I doing here?"
Neidorff told Health Payer Specialist in a story by reporter Gale Scott posted on Wednesday: "I looked at it from a democracy standpoint but also from the business and Centene perspective."
He went on to characterize the legislature's decision as anti-democratic. He expects a court challenge, but also says lawmakers' action was "a war on the initiative petition process."
His "embarrassment" remark came as he described hearing from company board members, investors, and other stakeholders about the issue.
Centene employed 5,500 people in the St. Louis area as of June 2020, according to St. Louis Business Journal data. It ranks 42 on the Fortune 500.
Neidroff says Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has not called him, and adds, quote: "Wait till he hears we're moving out, he'll probably call me then."
KMOX News reached out to Gov. Parson's office and was sent this statement:
"I have a good relationship with Mr. Neidorf and am grateful for Centene’s investments in Missouri. Centene is a strong, reputable company with great employees, and we are proud that they call Missouri home."
"Although I was never in support of MO HealthNet expansion, I always said that I would uphold the ballot amendment if it passed. The majority of Missouri voters supported it, and we included funds for the expansion in our budget proposal. However, without a revenue source or funding authority from the General Assembly, we are unable to proceed with the expansion at this time and must withdraw our State Plan Amendments to ensure Missouri’s existing MO HealthNet program remains solvent.
KMOX News has also reached out to St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.
Last year, the CEO told KMOX he was concerned about his ability to recruit employees to the St. Louis area due to crime and perception issues. His company helped bankroll a study of St. Louis City and County police.