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Data: Money.net; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Health care stocks skyrocketed after Tuesday's election results indicated Republicans likely will maintain control of the Senate, all but assuring continued gridlock in both chambers of Congress.

The big picture: A Republican Senate means "the public option and direct government negotiation on drug prices are dead for at least the next two years," Spencer Perlman, an analyst at Veda Partners, wrote to investors Wednesday.

The winners: Health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and medical device firms scored the biggest stock gains.

  • The status quo has been lucrative for pretty much every sector of the health care industry, and the prospect of no major federal reform under Biden or President Trump would insulate employer coverage, which is the ultimate pot of gold.

Yes, but: The Supreme Court is about to hear a case that could invalidate the Affordable Care Act. If the conservative majority strikes down the entire law, the industry would face considerable upheaval after spending the past decade incorporating the law into their businesses.

  • Hospitals would be most affected by the Supreme Court invalidating the ACA: Millions of people would lose Medicaid and individual health coverage, resulting in more uncompensated care. Stocks of hospital companies like HCA Healthcare and Tenet Healthcare were down Wednesday.

Flashback: This same health care stock surge happened after the 2018 midterms guaranteed congressional gridlock.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

How GameStop exposed the market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Retail traders have found a cheat code for the stock market, and barring some major action from regulatory authorities or a massive turn in their favored companies, they're going to keep using it to score "tendies" and turn Wall Street on its head.

What's happening: The share prices of companies like GameStop are rocketing higher, based largely on the social media organizing of a 3-million strong group of Redditors who are eagerly piling into companies that big hedge funds are short selling, or betting will fall in price.

Tracking the pandemic's unequal impact

Expand chart
Data: Morning Consult/Axios; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The pandemic was bound to hit the most economically vulnerable among us the hardest. New polling data from Morning Consult, out this morning, shows the degree to which those difficulties were more concentrated among people of color.

Catch up quick: The Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index has tracked the economic experience of adults in three wage groups since May 2020. We began publishing the findings in May of this year, and six months in, we’re slicing the data a little differently — and looking at inequality between ethnicities.

2 hours ago - Health

WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking in Geneva in October. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Monday in a new risk assessment that it believes the COVID-19 Omicron variant poses a "very high" risk to the globe because it may be more transmissible than other strains of the virus.

Why it matters: Though the WHO acknowledged there are still many uncertainties associated with the variant, the agency said it believes the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron around the world is "high."