WellCare to become biggest Medicaid coverage provider in IL

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- WellCare is spending $2.5 billion to become the biggest Medicaid coverage provider in Michigan and Illinois and add an in-house pharmacy benefit manager, following the lead of competitors like UnitedHealth and Cigna.

Pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, run prescription drug coverage. Insurers have been pushing to build or buy these businesses in large part to improve how they share patient data and manage care.

WellCare Health Plans Inc. said late Tuesday that it will buy the privately held insurer Meridian in a cash deal it expects to close this year. Meridian has about 1.1 million customers and a pharmacy benefit manager that mainly serves that customer base.

Cigna Corp. said in March it would spend $52 billion on Express Scripts Holding Co., one of the nation's biggest PBMs.

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