May 28--Shares of insurers WellCare and Centene rose Tuesday after an analyst at Leerink speculated that one of the two may be an acquisition target for Edmundson-based Ascension Health, the nation's third-largest health care system.
Behind the speculation: Modern Healthcare, a trade publication, reported May 22 that Ascension Health President and CEO Robert Henkel that his nonprofit healthcare provider is in talks to acquire an insurance company.
That firm, which Henkel did not name, operates in 18 states, he said.
That led Leerink analyst Ana Gupte to say the unnamed insurer is most likely WellCare, which is in 18 states with Managed Medicaid and Medicare Advantage.
Another possibility, according to Gupte: Centene. But the Clayton-based company operates in 20 states.
Centene shares rose $3.02 to close at $74.02 on Tuesday. WellCare Health Plans rose $2.18 to close at $76.91.
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