KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Law Confuses Small Business Owners; Stock Market, Industry Analysts Say Hospitals To Likely Gain

With the election over, the health care and other industries are taking stock of the health law's effects.

The Denver Post: Small Business Owners Don’t Understand Health Reform, Survey Says
It seems many small business owners were waiting until after the presidential election to take the time to understand national health reform. A recent survey by eHealthInsurance reveals widespread confusion. Some 78 percent of small business owners said they were not familiar with health insurance exchanges and how they could impact their business (Brown, 11/7).

Modern Healthcare: Insurance Mandate Seen Likelier With Obama Victory
The health care reform mandate that nearly everyone have health insurance would benefit hospitals and is now more likely to take effect after President Barack Obama won re-election, Moody's Investors Services said in a report. Moody's analysts said the mandate was "most at risk" in the campaign and its adoption is expected to increase demand for care from newly insured patients and reduce unpaid bills. But fewer write-offs from unpaid bills from the uninsured will not be enough to outweigh the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's scheduled Medicare cuts to hospital payments, which total $150 billion over a decade, Moody's said. The law also contains other provisions that will negatively impact hospitals' credit strength, including new penalties and payment models that will squeeze hospital revenue (Evans, 11/7).

Modern Healthcare: Health Care Industry Leaders React To Obama's Re-election
Modern Healthcare reporters are tracking health care leaders' reaction to President Barack Obama's re-election and what the election means for the health care industry, which finally has certainty that the bulk of the Patient and Protection and Affordable Care Act will be implemented yet little clue how the president and a still-divided Congress will treat health care programs in their quest to control federal spending (11/7).

Bloomberg: Obama Win Keeping Health Law Buoys Hospital Shares
HCA Holdings Inc. (HCA) and other hospitals will get more paying customers while insurers like UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) will see profits squeezed as U.S. President Barack Obama moves to preserve the health-care overhaul he championed. Obama's re-election rallied shares of HCA Holdings Inc., the largest for-profit hospital company, by 9.4 percent today, while Community Health Systems Inc. (CYH) and Tenet Healthcare Corp. (THC) also gained on prospects for millions of newly insured patients being added to their admission rolls. UnitedHealth, the largest U.S. medical insurer, fell 3.8 percent, and WellPoint Inc. (WLP) and Humana Inc. (HUM) declined as the industry faces profit limits and new taxes to help pay for the coverage expansion (Armour and Nussbaum, 11/7).

Reuters: Hospital Shares Jump, Insurers Fall After Obama Win
Shares of hospitals and other healthcare companies that will benefit from President Barack Obama's health reform legislation jumped on Wednesday after his election victory, but health insurers fell as the law's costs became more certain. Obama's re-election has taken a Republican vow to repeal the health care reform off the table, though some industry executives said on Wednesday that some aspects of the law still may be changed or delayed (Humer, 11/7).

Modern Healthcare: Hospital Stocks Rise; Insurers Take Hit
Hospital stocks reacted with optimism to the news that President Barack Obama had won a second term -- as the fate of the health care reform law becomes even more certain. Companies like HCA, Nashville; Community Health Systems, Brentwood, Tenn.; and Tenet Healthcare Corp., Dallas opened Wednesday with clear gains even as the broader market showed less ebullience. The Dow Jones Industrial Index and the Standard & Poor's 500 were trading down about 1.9 percent in the first hour after the trading bell sounded, and closed the day down about 2.4 percent. Questions about how Obama would handle the looming fiscal cliff as well as ongoing concerns about the European markets led to the sell-off. Health care stocks on the whole were registering a loss of about 1.4 percent, with health insurers taking the brunt of the hit (Kutscher, 11/7).

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