Healthcare industry stocks explode as bill progresses

by Glenn Greenwald, Salon

The Senate passed its health care bill “by standing up to the special interests who prevented reform for decades and who are furiously lobbying against it now” — Barack Obama, December 21, 2009.

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“‘Healthcare shares rose on Monday as a bill to reform healthcare passed the first critical test in the Senate . . . Shares of Cigna rose 5.3 percent to $37.69. Shares of Aetna Inc rose 5.84 percent to $34.41. Humana Inc rose 3.79 percent to $45.17 and United Health Group Inc rose 5 percent to $33.14. Shares of Wellpoint Inc rose 3.8 percent to $60.51” — Reuters, yesterday, with this ironic headline:  “Healthcare shares rise as reform bill progresses.

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Investors are seeing the Senate’s version of health care reform as a massive public subsidy for insurance companies — and as a result, are sending the sector’s stock prices shooting up, up, up. . . . Stripped of a government-run insurance plan, the bill would give tens of millions of Americans no option but to start paying hefty premiums to private companies.

The rise in stock prices has been particularly striking in the period since Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said on October 27 that he would filibuster a Senate health care reform bill if it included a public option . . . Here’s a quick breakdown of major health insurance company stock performance from Oct. 27 to Friday’s market close:

* Coventry Health Care, Inc. is up 31.6 percent;

* CIGNA Corp. is up 29.1 percent;

* Aetna Inc. is up 27.1 percent;

* WellPoint, Inc. is up 26.6 percent;

* UnitedHealth Group Inc. is up 20.5 percent;

* And Humana Inc. is up 13.6 percent” — Shahien Nasiripour, The Huffington Post‘s business reporter, yesterday.

Results of "Standing Up to the Lobbyists"

results of "Standing Up to the Lobbyists"

 

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Just to put this boon to health insurance stocks in perspective:  according an Indianapolis Star article from June, Evan Bayh’s wife, Susan, “owns from $500,001 to $1 million in employee stock in WellPoint, the Indianapolis-based insurance giant on whose board she sits.”  That would mean that the value of her personal holdings in that one health insurance company alone, in the last six weeks alone (since Lieberman and her husband began menacing the public option), would have increased by a value of between $125,000 and $250,000.  As part of the bonanza of health care industry board positions she magically received since her husband became a Senator, Susan Bayh is given a quarter-million dollars each year in stocks and stock options from Wellpoint.  That’s just a microcosm for considering how well Obama’s so-called “special interests” have done as a result of this health care bill.

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Nurses Union: Senate Bill Isn’t Real Health Reform

by Michael Whitney, FireDogLake

The National Nurses United, a brand new union created earlier this month and the largest professional group of nurses in the country, officially opposes the Senate health care bill.  NNU, a member of the AFL-CIO, slammed the Senate bill as a giveaway to the insurance industry that falls far short of real reform.

[read the rest at FireDogLake, here]