The stock market doesn't fear healthcare reform

What do investors think of the end of freedom and Obama's socialist takeover? So far, they're strangely unbothered


Andrew Leonard
March 22, 2010 7:25PM (UTC)

Now that the totalitarian socialist freedom-haters have had their way with America, it seems like a good time to check in on the health of some corporations that will be most directly affected by healthcare reform: health insurers and drug companies.

OK, it's early yet, but a little more than an hour after the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, the stock prices of insurers WellPoint and Humana were down, while Aetna was up. The share prices of Pfizer, Merck, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithCline were all up, with gusto.

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One could take this data to mean those who argued that the new law of the land is a corporate sellout to the pharmaceutical industry were correct. Lobbying organizations such as PHARMA and the American Medical Association supported the healthcare reform bill because they were confident that their businesses would not be harmed. For some Democrats, that reality leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

But an early Wall Street Journal summary this morning makes a more pertinent point. (Italics mine.)

Companies ranging from hospital operators and pharmacy-benefit managers to drug and device makers are expected to profit from the bill, which will enroll more people in insurance programs.

More people will have health insurance as a result of the bill passed by the House of Representatives Sunday night. That's good for the health of real people, as well as for healthcare industry profits. The stock market -- which so many conservative pundits have told us lives in terror of the Obama "agenda" -- is reflecting this reality so far, with all the major indices trading up by mid-morning. Progressives who wanted a public option are disappointed. But how much worse must be the disappointment for the conservatives who are denouncing reform as pure evil, when they look at the news, and realize, hey, no big deal, the market isn't all that upset at the end of freedom?


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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