Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Contingencies

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Contingencies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2019
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Contingencies Contingencies
Overview

The Company is routinely subjected to legal and regulatory proceedings in the normal course of business. These matters can include, without limitation:

periodic compliance and other reviews and investigations by various federal and state regulatory agencies with respect to requirements applicable to the Company's business, including, without limitation, those related to payment of out-of-network claims, submissions to CMS for risk adjustment payments or the False Claims Act, pre-authorization penalties, timely review of grievances and appeals, timely and accurate payment of claims, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996;

litigation arising out of general business activities, such as tax matters, disputes related to healthcare benefits coverage or reimbursement, putative securities class actions and medical malpractice, privacy, real estate, intellectual property and employment-related claims;

disputes regarding reinsurance arrangements, claims arising out of the acquisition or divestiture of various assets, class actions and claims relating to the performance of contractual and non-contractual obligations to providers, members, employer groups and others, including, but not limited to, the alleged failure to properly pay claims and challenges to the manner in which the Company processes claims and claims alleging that the Company has engaged in unfair business practices.

Among other things, these matters may result in awards of damages, fines or penalties, which could be substantial, and/or could require changes to the Company's business. The Company intends to vigorously defend itself against legal and regulatory proceedings to which it is currently a party; however, these proceedings are subject to many uncertainties. In some of the cases pending against the Company, substantial non-economic or punitive damages are being sought.

The Company records reserves and accrues costs for certain legal proceedings and regulatory matters to the extent that it determines an unfavorable outcome is probable and the amount of the loss can be reasonably estimated. While such reserves and accrued costs reflect the Company's best estimate of the probable loss for such matters, the recorded amounts may differ materially from the actual amount of any such losses. In some cases, no estimate of the possible loss or range of loss in excess of amounts accrued, if any, can be made because of the inherently unpredictable nature of legal and regulatory proceedings, which may be exacerbated by various factors, including but not limited to, they may involve indeterminate claims for monetary damages or may involve fines, penalties or punitive damages; present novel legal theories or legal uncertainties; involve disputed facts; represent a shift in regulatory policy; involve a large number of parties, claimants or regulatory bodies; are in the early stages of the proceedings; involve a number of separate proceedings and/or a wide range of potential outcomes; or result in a change of business practices.

As of the date of this report, amounts accrued for legal proceedings and regulatory matters were not material. However, it is possible that in a particular quarter or annual period the Company's financial condition, results of operations, cash flow and/or liquidity could be materially adversely affected by an ultimate unfavorable resolution of or development in legal and/or regulatory proceedings, including as described below. Except for the proceedings discussed below, the Company believes that the ultimate outcome of any of the regulatory and legal proceedings that are currently pending against it should not have a material adverse effect on financial condition, results of operations, cash flow or liquidity.

California

On October 20, 2015, the Company's California subsidiary, Health Net of California, Inc. (Health Net California), was named as a defendant in a California taxpayer action filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, captioned as Michael D. Myers v. State Board of Equalization, Dave Jones, Insurance Commissioner of the State of California, Betty T. Yee, Controller of the State of California, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BS158655. This action is brought under a California statute that permits an individual taxpayer to sue a governmental agency when the taxpayer believes the agency has failed to enforce governing law. Plaintiff contends that Health Net California, a California licensed Health Care Service Plan (HCSP), is an "insurer" for purposes of taxation despite acknowledging it is not an "insurer" under regulatory law. Under California law, "insurers" must pay a gross premiums tax (GPT), calculated as 2.35% on gross premiums. As a licensed HCSP, Health Net California has paid the California Corporate Franchise Tax (CFT), the tax generally paid by California businesses. Plaintiff contends that Health Net California must pay the GPT rather than the CFT. Plaintiff seeks a writ of mandate directing the California taxing agencies to collect the GPT, and seeks an order requiring Health Net California to pay GPT, interest and penalties for a period dating to eight years prior to the October 2015 filing of the complaint. This lawsuit is being coordinated with similar lawsuits filed against other entities (collectively, "Related Actions"). In March 2018, the Court overruled the Company's demurrer seeking to dismiss the complaint and denied the Company's motion to strike allegations seeking retroactive relief. In August 2018, the trial court stayed all the Related Actions pending determination of a writ of mandate by the California Court of Appeals in two of the Related Actions. In March 2019, the California Court of Appeals denied the writ of mandate. The defendants in those Related Actions sought review by the California Supreme Court, which declined to review the matter. The case is back before the trial court which has scheduled a hearing in March 2020 to consider a motion for summary judgment by Health Net California. In the meantime, discovery and depositions are proceeding. The court has tentatively set the case for trial in August 2020. The Company intends to vigorously defend itself against these claims; however, this matter is subject to many uncertainties, and an adverse outcome in this matter could potentially have a materially adverse impact on the Company's financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

Federal Securities Class Action

On November 14, 2016, a putative federal securities class action, Israel Sanchez v. Centene Corp., et al., was filed against the Company and certain of its executives in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. In March 2017, the court entered an order transferring the matter to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that the Company's accounting and related disclosures for certain liabilities acquired in the acquisition of Health Net violated federal securities laws. In July 2017, the lead plaintiff filed a Consolidated Class Action Complaint. The Company filed a motion to dismiss complaint in September 2017. In August 2019, the Court granted the Company's motion to dismiss in part and denied it in part, dismissing allegations regarding certain statements and thereby narrowing the time period to which the allegations will be subject. The case is now in the discovery phase.

The Company denies any wrongdoing and is vigorously defending itself against these claims. Nevertheless, this matter is subject to many uncertainties and the Company cannot predict how long this litigation will last or what the ultimate outcome will be, and an adverse outcome in this matter could potentially have a materially adverse impact on the Company's financial position and results of operations.

Additionally, on January 24, 2018, a separate derivative action was filed by plaintiff Harkesh Parekh on behalf of Centene Corporation against the Company and certain of its officers and directors in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Plaintiff purports to bring suit derivatively on behalf of the Company against certain officers and directors for violation of securities laws, breach of fiduciary duty, waste of corporate assets and unjust enrichment. The derivative complaint repeats many of the allegations in the federal securities class action described above and asserts that defendants made inaccurate or misleading statements, and/or failed to correct the alleged misstatements.

A second shareholder derivative action was filed on March 9, 2018, by plaintiffs Laura Wood and Peoria Police Pension Fund on behalf of Centene Corporation against the Company and certain of its officers and directors in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. This second derivative complaint repeats many of the allegations in the securities class action and the first derivative suit.

A third shareholder derivative action was filed on December 14, 2018, by plaintiffs Carpenters Pension Fund of Illinois and Iron Workers Local 11 Pension Fund on behalf of Centene Corporation against the Company and certain of its officers and directors in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. This third derivative action repeats many of the allegations in the securities class action and the other derivative suits and adds additional allegations asserting violations of securities laws, breach of fiduciary duty, insider trading and unjust enrichment. The three derivative suits have been consolidated. Lead plaintiffs and counsel have been appointed. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on October 31, 2019. The motion has not yet been set for hearing.

The parties are in advanced negotiations to seek to settle the action for an immaterial amount to be paid by Company's insurance carrier. A settlement would be subject to negotiation and execution of a settlement agreement, as well as preliminary and final court approvals.

Veterans Administration Matter

In October 2017, a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) was issued to Health Net Federal Services, LLC (HNFS) by the United States Department of Justice. The CID seeks documents and interrogatory responses concerning whether HNFS submitted, or caused to be submitted, excessive, duplicative or otherwise improper claims to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) under a contract to provide healthcare coordination services for veterans. The contract began in late 2014 and ended September 30, 2018. In 2016, modifications to the contract were made to allow for possible duplicate billings with a reconciliation period at the end of the contract term. The Company is complying with the CID and believes it has met its contractual obligations. At this point, it is not possible to determine what level of liability, if any, the Company may face as a result of this matter. This matter is separate from the negotiated settlements with the VA in connection with the contract expiration on September 30, 2018.

Ambetter Class Action

On January 11, 2018, a putative class action lawsuit was filed by Cynthia Harvey and Steven A. Milman against the Company and certain subsidiaries in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. The complaint alleges that the Company failed to meet federal and state requirements for provider networks and directories with regard to its Ambetter policies, denied coverage and/or refused to pay for covered benefits, and failed to address grievances adequately, causing some members to incur unexpected costs. In March 2018, the Company filed separate motions to dismiss each defendant. In July 2018, the plaintiff voluntarily filed a First Amended Complaint that removed Steven Milman as a plaintiff, dropped Centene Corporation and Superior Health Plan as defendants, abandoned certain claims, narrowed the putative class to Washington State only, and added Centene Management Company as a defendant. In August 2018, the Company moved to dismiss the First Amended Complaint. In response, the plaintiff voluntarily filed a Second Amended Complaint. In September 2018, the Company filed a motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint. On November 21, 2018, the Court granted in part and denied in part the Company's motion to dismiss. Plaintiff Cynthia Harvey filed a Third Amended Complaint, on November 28, 2018, against Centene Management Company and Coordinated Care Corporation (Defendants), both subsidiaries of the Company. Defendants filed an answer on December 12, 2018. Plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification on January 8, 2020. The Company intends to vigorously defend itself against these claims. Nevertheless, this matter is subject to many uncertainties and the Company cannot predict how long this litigation will last or what the ultimate outcome will be, and an adverse outcome in this matter could potentially have a materially adverse impact on the Company's financial position and results of operations.