Molina Healthcare said it will pay $50 million to buy Chicago-based Medicaid health plan NextLevel Health Partners.

The deal will give Molina “50,000 Medicaid and managed long-term services and supports members in Illinois’ Cook County,” the health insurer said Monday morning as rivals like Centene grow through acquisition in the increasingly consolidating market of government subsidized health coverage.

“Acquiring NextLevel Health increases our footprint in the state of Illinois, enables us to scale our existing business platform, and provides additional operating cost leverage,” Molina Healthcare of Illinoos president Pam Sanborn said. “The existing base of acquired assets also provides Molina with expansion opportunities for our Medicare-Medicaid Plan (MMP) and Marketplace offerings.”

Molina will pay cash to buy NextLevel, which is privately held. The acquisition is expected to close in early 2020, the companies said.

The deal comes as Molina rival Centene is poised to become an even bigger player in administering Medicaid health benefits for states. Centene is poised to close on its $15 billion acquisition of WellCare Health Plans in the coming weeks in a deal that will create a national operator of government-subsidized Medicaid benefits and seller of individual coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Molina had about 3.3 million people enrolled in its Medicaid, Medicare and Obamacare plans as of Sept. 30, 2019, the company said. Molina will release its fourth quarter 2019 and full year financials on Feb. 10.

NextLevel Health said its estimated premium revenue for 2019 is about $270 million.

“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,” NextLevel Health Partners CEO Dr. Cheryl Whitaker said.

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Molina To Add 50K Medicaid Members In Illinois Deal – Forbes