Thursday, September 10, 2009

Well, That's Depressing . . . .

Reuters has this depressing bit of news following Obama's health care speech last night:

Wall Street sees few surprises in Obama speech
Thu Sep 10, 2009
| By Lewis Krauskopf and Susan Heavey

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Shares of U.S. health insurers climbed on Thursday after analysts saw no "game changers" from President Barack Obama's highly anticipated speech on health reform.

Following the speech, analysts predicted any changes to the system would be moderate, with Obama backing many initiatives put forth earlier this week by a leading Senate committee. The possibility a threatening public health plan would be enacted also now seemed doubtful, analysts said.

"There wasn't anything said that is drastically changing the outlook as to what might come out of Congress," said Steve Shubitz, an analyst with Edward Jones.


Shares of UnitedHealth Group (UNH.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and WellPoint Inc (WLP.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the two largest health insurers, rose about 1 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Aetna Inc (AET.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) rose more than 2 percent and Cigna Corp (CI.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) jumped more than 4 percent.

Obama "demonized insurers several times but didn't add anything new to the debate," Wells Fargo analyst Matt Perry said in a research note. "Overall we view the speech as neutral to insurers."


Concern remains over the possibility of a public insurance option and how alternatives that could be less threatening, such as non-profit cooperatives, would operate. But there is a growing sense that the government's role may not be as big as once feared.

Investors "are probably most concerned about how strong a government-run option to compete with commercial health insurers might be in a final bill, and ... Obama signaled yet again that he recognizes there's going to have to be compromise," said Paul Heldman, a senior healthcare policy analyst at Potomac Research Group in Washington.

Ana Gupte, a Sanford Bernstein analyst, said in a research note she was "even more confident after the Obama speech that the legislative outcomes will be moderate with no threat of a Medicare-like public plan."

So after all the tough talk to repuglicans, reassurances to "grandma," and clarifications to the USian public, it now appears Wall Street has weighed in. When it comes to padding their profit margins, they are rarely wrong. Since there are quite a few administration officials with Wall Street connections, this can't be good.

Say it ain't so, Barack . . . .

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