Supreme Court Health Care Reform: Businesses Actually Worse Off If Supremes Repeal Law

Health Care Companies Actually Worse Off If High Court Kills Reform

Health care companies emptied their war chests in their bid to block health care reform in Congress.

Now, it looks like a repeal of the controversial law would be bad for business for many of these companies.

Since President Barack Obama signed health care reform into law in March 2010, profits and share prices shot up at large health insurance companies like UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint. The Supreme Court began hearing arguments Monday in a case challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform law. The Court also will convene Tuesday and Wednesday and is expected to issue a ruling before the end of June. Health care reform could be repealed in whole or in part. Either outcome would upend preparations for an expansion of health insurance coverage to more than 30 million people.

Though the industry still opposes some new regulations from the law, companies are looking to health care reform as a healthy source of new business. The law is supposed to create a new marketplace for insurance where Americans have to buy what insurance companies sell and millions will receive subsidies to help pay for it.

Firms that perform diagnostic tests already have benefited from provisions that require insurance companies to cover preventive medicine and screenings without charging a co-payment, the Journal says. Companies like this, which include Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp of America, would see even more volume if the law's coverage expansions are allowed to take effect.

These companies stand to rake in cash if the Supreme Court upholds the so-called mandate, which would require that all Americans have health insurance.

The danger for insurers now is that the court upholds the law but strikes down the individual mandate. The fear is that the court knocks out the mandate but leaves in place requirements that insurance companies cover anyone willing to pay -- and limits their ability to charge higher rates to older and sicker people.

Likewise, the hospital industry, which endorsed health care reform, is nervously eyeing the Court this week. Lobbying groups for hospitals agreed to a $155 billion, 10-year cut in their Medicare payments under the law because fewer uninsured people means fewer unpaid medical bills. Drug companies struck a similar deal and backed the health care reform law.

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