Max Baucus was paid handsomely (in campaign contributions) by the health care industry to deliver a health care reform bill that only the health care industry could possibly love. Well, mission accomplished! As Julie Hirschfield Davis reports for the Associated Press today, the Baucus plan "gives health insurers, drug makers and large employers reasons to heave sighs of relief, sparing them the higher costs and more burdensome rules included in other Democratic-written alternatives."
You can also measure the affection for Baucus' bill in the reaction of health care investors. Think Progress' Igor Volsky reports that, "Following Baucus' announcement, HealthNet shares increased by 3%, United Health Group Inc shares rose by 2.7%, Humana Inc. grew by 2.6%, Wellpoint stock gained 1.7% and Aetna Inc rose 1.6%."
Once again, I feel compelled to point out that while the money spent by lobbyists frequently aids and abets the degradation and diminishment of important legislation, the return on investment remains very high. When Max Baucus' Senate Finance Committee excluded a public option from their bill back in July, health insurance stocks rose dramatically.
Shares of U.S. health insurers rose broadly on Tuesday on hopes a health reform bill would not include a government-run option, which has drawn strong opposition from insurers who fear it would destroy the private marketplace.
The S&P Managed Health Care index of large U.S. health insurers closed 6.5 percent higher.
Aetna rose 12.6 percent, Coventry was up 12.7 percent and Cigna was 7.7 percent higher, all on the New York Stock Exchange. Centene rose 7.9 percent.
Teddy Partridge at Campaign Silo sized up the numbers, and bottom-lined it like this:
Health insurance executives who have poured money into the campaign coffers of Blue Dogs, Max Baucus, Chuck Grassley, Kent Conrad, Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins (as well as their political action committees) likely made all their money back in the one day rise in stock prices. The companies themselves, which hold huge amounts of their own stock, surely recouped all of their PAC investments on Tuesday alone.
Circle of life!
Igor Volsky: Health Insurance Stocks Rally With Release Of Baucus Health Bill [ThinkProgress]