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Wall Street: Split Congress is a boon for health care

A stock ticker showing prices of various companies.
Congressional gridlock is good for health care stocks. Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

The stock prices of health care companies soared Wednesday morning, as Wall Street analysts predict a Democratic House and Republican Senate will keep the profitable status quo humming for at least two more years.

The big picture: Health care companies have thrived in the Affordable Care Act era, and they don't want large-scale changes to the law or the industry at large.

Winners: Dialysis companies DaVita and Fresenius (stock prices up 11% and 9%, respectively).

  • They funded the campaign that helped defeat a California ballot measure that would have capped dialysis profits.

Health insurance companies also rallied Wednesday, because ACA repeal is pretty much dead for now.

  • Several states that expanded Medicaid through ballot initiatives also helped boost the prices of Centene, Molina and WellCare — big Medicaid insurers that stand to benefit by covering those people.

Mixed bag: Hospital chains were all up Wednesday, but a split Congress doesn't change the fact that fewer people are getting hospitalized. Pharmaceutical companies also saw their stocks rise, but they could face Democrat-led House hearings — although those hearings usually lead to short-term public shaming and little to no action on their pricing practices.

Looking ahead: The industry will aggressively fight any calls for single-payer or "Medicare for All" as the 2020 campaign kicks off.

  • Gary Taylor, a health care analyst at J.P. Morgan Securities, sent a note to investors this morning that said Republican Senate gains "make it much more difficult for Democrats to regain the chamber in 2020, regardless of the presidential outcome. This should provide a measure of gridlock comfort beyond 2020, diminishing the anticipated 2020 'Medicare for All' campaign overhang."
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