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America's Biggest Health Stocks Aren't Moving Much In Response To Obamacare Repeal

The proposal for another major overhaul of the health care industry has not translated into big moves on the markets.

Posted on March 7, 2017, at 2:10 p.m. ET

Bryan R. Smith / AFP / Getty Images

Republican plans to replace the Affordable Care Act have been met with skepticism from Democrats, industry watchers and other Republicans. And on Tuesday, investors in America's biggest health care companies showed little reaction to plans for another overhaul of the industry

The market reaction has been tepid so far. Many of the biggest health care stocks have barely moved, suggesting investors aren't yet pricing in the plan's impact on businesses.

Health insurance giant Anthem, which sells Obamacare plans but has complained that the individual market "has not been working well," was up marginally, by .3%. The company has threatened to reduce or eliminate its participation in Obamacare exchanges in 2018. Anthem had 839,000 enrollees on Obamacare exchanges at the end of last year.

Insurer Cigna, whose merger with Anthem was blocked by a federal judge, offers plans on Obamacare exchanges in seven states. It had around 175,000 enrollees last year. Its shares were down .1%.

UnitedHealth, the country's biggest insurer, was up .2%; health products maker Johnson & Johnson, one of America's ten most valuable public companies, rose by less than .5%.

Pharmaceutical companies moved a little more: an index of drugmakers was down by just under 1% by the early afternoon. Even there, many attributed the change to President Trump's morning tweet promising to bring down drug prices.

I am working on a new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry. Pricing for the American people will come way down!

The largest movers were hospital companies, which could take big hits from the Republican proposal to halt the expansion of Medicaid and change how the program is funded by the federal government. Medicaid is a major revenue source for most health care providers.

Community Health Systems, which operates over 150 hospitals and receives over 10% of its operating revenues from Medicaid, was down by 8% today, while Tenet, another hospital operator, gets about 8% of its revenues from Medicaid, and was down over 6%.

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