Health Care Stocks Fall as Judge Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional

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Shares of U.S. health insurers, hospitals, and healthcare companies fell on Monday, after a federal judge ruled that Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law was unconstitutional.

Obamacare, officially called the Affordable Care Act (ACA), mandates that all individuals have health insurance or pay a tax and also includes payments worth billions of dollars to health insurers to subsidize for low-income Americans.

Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have long criticized Obamacare, calling it a costly and unneeded government intrusion into Americans’ lives. About 11.8 million consumers nationwide enrolled in 2018 Obamacare plans.

On Friday, Texas District Judge Reed O’Connor agreed with a coalition of 20 states that a change in tax law last year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire Obamacare law.

The law, however, will remain in place to allow appeals process to play out, and the Supreme Court might eventually rule on the case.

Most legal experts do not believe the Supreme Court will ultimately side with this ruling, but the uncertainty could be pressure stocks in the near term, brokerage Oppenheimer said.

The ruling, if affirmed, would have a draconian impact on the healthcare sector and the overhang alone could trigger widespread selling across the sector, Oppenheimer analyst Michael Wiederhorn said.

Centene Corp fell 7.8 percent to $117.5, while Molina Healthcare slumped 10.1 percent to $118.4. The companies are among health insurers with exposure to ACA.

WellCare Health Plans and Anthem Inc declined 4.7 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

Brokerage BMO Capital Markets expects Centene and Molina to be most affected by the ruling, as they have the highest ACA exposure, which the broker measures as an “estimate of the percentage of company revenue and earnings driven by Obamacare exchanges and/or the Medicaid expansion.”

“While we are disappointed in the recent Northern District of Texas court’s ACA ruling, we recognize that this is a first step in what will be a lengthy appeals process,” Molina Healthcare said.

“Regardless, the ACA will remain in effect for 2019, and we are optimistic that it will remain in effect thereafter.”

Even in case of an eventual injunction, the defendants would certainly seek and most likely get a stay pending appeal, Evercore said.

Hospitals and healthcare services providers Community Health Systems, Tenet Healthcare Corp and HCA Healthcare Inc fell between 4 percent and 8 percent.

The fall in healthcare stocks pulled the broader S&P 500 managed health care index down 2.5 percent.

Evercore ISI said it expected no immediate impact from the ruling, calling it only a declaratory judgment and not an injunction.

Even in case of an eventual injunction, the defendants would certainly seek and most likely get a stay pending appeal, Evercore said.

(Reporting by Manogna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Sweta Singh)

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TOM
Member

I recall that after the first year of Obozocare health insurers were bailing out of Obozocare. Have never heard of Centene Corp or Molina Healthcare but it looks like Centene’s health insurance business is mostly Obozocare as is Molina’s. So if Obozocare goes away so does their health insurance business, which looks to be very lucrative. But compared to someone like United Healthcare who is not tied to Obozocare they are small fish.

Judy Smith
Member

Just a note—will not discuss the mechanics of the market, but scroll back up to the end of the article and read the names of the writers. Somewhat disturbing, is it not?

deb
Member

Don’t you mean health insurance stocks fall? Since when is health insurance the same thing as healthcare? Why do we keep letting the Democrats ruin everything?! TRUMP 2020, KAG!

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