From a stock investors point of view, yes.
If, as expected, this health bill passes, there will be companies and stocks which stand to benefit.
Likewise, if it does not, there will be stocks and companies which will also benefit.
The list is actually the same for both, just flipped.
So lets take a look.
Brand Name Drug Makers.
* The pharmaceutical industry largely keeps its $80 billion agreement to provide savings and rebates. Its fees, to be parceled out among companies such as Pfizer Inc (PFE) and Merck & Co Inc (MRK), would be delayed from 2010 to 2011, increasing from the initial $2.3 billion a year to $2.7 billion.
* Overall, wider insurance coverage could help offset the costs by providing more potential customers.
* Drugmakers warded off deeper price cuts in the Medicare program for the elderly. The House had sought to fully close the so-called "doughnut hole" where coverage drops temporarily after reaching a spending limit, but the bill maintains the industry's 50 percent discount. The government will pay for another 25 percent discount.
* Lawmakers rejected Obama's plan to end lucrative "pay-for-delay" settlements with brand-name drugmakers, a win for both generic and brand name companies.
* The bill also discards an earlier provision that would have extended a hospital drug discount program.
Medical Device Makers
* Fees for medical device makers would be delayed until 2013 after initial bills called for 2010. The sector earlier won a reduction in an industry tax to $20 billion, down from $40 billion.
* Rather than an overall industry fee, the bill now contains a 2.9 percent sales tax. Certain products, such as eyeglasses, contact lenses and others bought by consumers at stores are exempt.
* Hospitals, which include companies such as Universal Health Services Inc (UHS) and Tenet Healthcare Corp (THC), say they kept their a $155 billion, 10-year deal accepting lower government payments from Medicare and Medicaid in exchange for an expected boost in insured customers.
Pharm Distribution Companies
* Government drug subsidies went into effect in January 2006, have fueled strong prescription drug growth and has boosted shares of pharmaceutical benefit managers.
These companies are likely to be unaffected should America shift to universal health insurance. Someone has to warehouse the drugs, so I would say it's positive for them.
I actually think this category of companies is not adversely affected either way.
Some companies in this category are:
Express Scripts (ESRX)
Medco Health Solutions (MHS)
Cardional Health (CAH)
* While health insurers overall still face tighter regulation, there was some good news. Insurers such as Aetna Inc (AET), Cigna Corp (CI), UnitedHealth Group Inc (UNH) and WellPoint Inc (WLP) saw their $67 billion, 10-year tax delayed until 2014.
* Private Medicare plans called Medicare Advantage would see their payments frozen in 2011, then lowered in 2012. The plans, which can offer more benefits than traditional Medicare coverage, would also have to spend at least 85 cents out of every dollar on medical costs -- leaving 15 cents toward overhead and salaries, among other things.
* Consumer protection provisions still aim to change the way companies do business, banning denial of coverage for preexisting medical conditions and ending limits on how much coverage patients can get from their insurers over their lifetime. Certain curbs would be expanded to all health insurance plans six months after the bill passes, while others take effect in 2014.
* The bill changes penalties for individuals who do not buy health insurance as mandated. The fine is lowered from $495 to $325 in 2015 and from $750 to $695 in 2016, but the alternative method of fining people using a percentage of income increased slightly to 2.5 percent by 2016.
* There are some potential bright spots: The bill does not include President Barack Obama's call for federal oversight of health insurance rates and premiums. It also expands tax credits and other financing to help more people afford insurance.
* Lawmakers have said up to 30 million more Americans could have insurance with the reform.
Listed below is a short watch list for Healthcare Reform. Some of these are or have been on my monthly Fumbled Returns watch lists.
(AMED) AMEDISYS INC
(BLUD) IMMUCOR INC
(BMY) BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB CO
(CAH) Cardinal Health
(CEPH) CEPHALON INC
(CYH) COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEMS INC
(DGX) QUEST DIAGNOSTICS
(ENDP) ENDO PHARMACEUT HLDGS INC
(HMA) HEALTH MGMT ASSOCIATES INC
(LLY) ELI LILLY&CO
(MHS) MEDCO HEALTH SOLUTIONS INC
(MRK) MERCK&CO. INC.
(ODSY) ODYSSEY HEALTHCARE INC
(PFE) PFIZER INC
(THC) TENET HEALTHCARE CORP
(UHS) UNIVERSAL HEALTH SERVICES
Sunday, March 21, 2010