Health Care Stocks Hurt as “Promise” Spooks InvestorsNEW YORK – Major health care stocks plunged today as investors worried that a series of voluntary actions the industry pledged in order to control costs represented a serious threat to profits.“Leaders of drug, device and health insurance companies gave their solemn word to the president of the United States that they will cut costs,” said Pinocchio Paparazzi, an analyst with Bear, Bulle and Morbull. “Simple math says if you trim two trillion dollars from spending, that’s two trillion dollars lower revenue. That reality should be reflected in stock prices.”Merck and Edwards Lifesciences, two companies whose CEOs personally attended a White House briefing announcing the coalition’s goals, led the decline with double-digit drops. Health insurance giants Wellpoint and UnitedHealth Group also slumped, as did the for-profit hospital sector, as investors decided that making the health care system “more affordable and effective for patients and purchasers” might be good politics but was bad for the bottom line.
Promise to Save “Billions” on Health Care Spreads Sick FeelingNEW YORK – The decline in health care stocks broadened and deepened today as investors continued to be unnerved by an industry promise to reduce health care spending by “billions of dollars” annually.“A group of CEOs of some of the most powerful companies in the world has assured the most powerful politician in the world that they’ll be highly successful in chopping away at their own revenues,” Bear, Bulle and Morbull vice president Pinocchio Paparazzi told ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, CNBC and Fox News during brief appearances this morning. “If that’s not a signal, I don’t know what is.” Paparazzi said he was so “sickened” by the industry’s prospects that he had issued a strong “hold” call on the sector.
Meanwhile, as investors began focusing on the coalition’s promise to promote “health promotion and disease prevention,” fast-food chains such as McDonalds and Wendy’s saw steep share declines. Also affected were stocks of companies serving the chronically ill, including makers of sugar-free foods for diabetics and even “extra-large” seats for wheelchairs. The promise to bring “administrative simplification” to health care led to an early drop in the shares of several major consulting firms, until investors decided that hiring expensive consultants was a critical first step towards simplicity.In the bond market, meanwhile, investors sold debt issued by cities such as Boston, Omaha and Wichita, which are highly dependent on the health care sector, while hospital bond prices continued a steep decline. In addition, two bond rating agencies said they were examining the financial status of Kaiser Permanente, one of the leaders of the coalition. “Cut revenue, cut the rating,” one analyst explained.
AMA: Docs Won’t Suffer. Coalition Partners: Oh, yeah?WASHINGTON – A spokesman for the American Medical Association assured its members today that the group’s promise to make medical care less costly, of higher quality and more efficient would have no negative impact whatsoever on doctors’ incomes. “If anything, it’s the drug and device companies that will suffer,” the spokesman said. “Or maybe the hospital. Look what’s happening in the stock market.”His remarks were immediately denounced by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and AdvaMed, both of which are part of a coalition with the AMA. Spokesmen for both groups said their members could continue to enjoy near-obscene profits without in any way weakening what was, after all, a strictly voluntary commitment that might well be affected over time by employees retiring, changing responsibilities or feeling a sudden urge to pursue other interests. They also noted that control of Congress or the presidency could easily change within ten years.Separately, another coalition member, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), assured its members that cost-cutting by hospitals would have no impact on either the number of jobs held by its members or their pay.Asked about this claim, an American Hospital Association official who declined to be identified, responded simply, “As if.” Health Care Weakens Market; GE Chugs Along on Choo-Choo NewsNEW YORK – As economists began to calculate the ripple effect of removing billions of dollars from what has been one of the nation’s most reliable job sectors, stocks took one of their steepest plunges in months. In an appearance on 60 Minutes, Bear, Bulle and Morbull managing director Pinocchio Paparazzi brushed aside assertions by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke that lowered health care costs would stimulate the U.S. economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs by making American business globally competitive once again.“Maybe in a few years, sure,” said Paparazzi. “But investors worried about how their 401(k) will look when the quarter ends can’t afford to be patient when highly leveraged Chinese penny stocks are there for the taking right now – not this should be construed as an offer to buy or sell.”Separately, General Electric stock shot up 6 percent after the company said it might sell its division making MRI scanners and computerized health information systems in order to focus on the attractive electric locomotive market. Obama Apologizes, Says Efficiency in Health Care is Government’s JobWASHINGTON – Saying, “I screwed up, and I take full responsibility,” President Obama today apologized for involving the private sector in his health care reform quest.“I realize now that it is the role of the government to legislate and regulate,” a chastened Obama said. “I apologize to leaders of the hospital, device and drug industry for involving them in what should be strictly a government matter, and I promise not to make this same mistake again. From now on, achieving efficiency in health care will be strictly a government responsibility.”Shortly after Obama spoke, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 380 points.