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Michael Neidorff (Photo: Allison Bell/ALM) Michael Neidorff, Centene’s chairman, says that the United States has a critical need for better ways to support people with complex, chronic conditions. (Photo: Allison Bell/ALM)

Giant health insurer Centene Corp. announced today that it has agreed to pay $2.2 billion in cash for Magellan Health Inc., the large behavioral health care manager.

Completing the deal would add 21 million behavioral health program enrollees from Magellan to the 20 million people in Centene’s own behavioral health programs. This would be timely especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has focused attention on concerns about depression, anxiety, substance use disorders and the effects the virus that causes COVID-19 has on the brain.

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