Obamacare

Ryancare vs. Obamacare: The Future of Medicare is at Stake

When Mitt Romney named Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential nominee, the Medicare battle jumped to the front and center of election 2012.

First introduced in 2010, "The Ryan Budget" is a bold plan that attempts to reduce the deficit by drastically cutting spending-which some claim will "cripple" Medicare.

So what is the truth?....

Ryancare vs Obamacare

Though the plans differ in ideology, Obamacare and Ryancare actually have some similarities.

In Ryan's plan, new enrollees after 2022 would have to choose between a private insurance plan and Medicare, making Medicare the "public option" that was so opposed in Obamacare.

Ryan's plan gives Medicare enrollees vouchers to choose from competing private insurance plans offered on a Medicare exchange. These exchanges closely resemble the exchanges in Obamacare that some Republican governors have refused to participate in.

And both plans basically "cut" the program by over $700 billion and set a growth cap on Medicare spending at GDP levels plus 0.5%.

The difference in the plans is how these cuts are made and why.

As Ezra Klein of the Washington Post says, "Democrats believe the best way to reform Medicare is to leave the program intact but vastly strengthen its ability to pay for quality. Republicans believe the best way to reform Medicare is to fracture the system between private plans and traditional Medicare and let competition do its work."

The only problem is that neither of these plans may do enough to fix Medicare.

The biggest misconception with Ryan's plan is that current senior citizens will be faced with outrageous healthcare costs.

That is simply not true.

To continue reading, please click here...

Warning: Hidden Obamacare Taxes Will Cost You More Than You Think

The bill for Obamacare is on its way, and guess what? It's addressed to you.

You see, all those great benefits included in the Affordable Care Act don't come cheap, which is why the new healthcare law includes a barrage of new "Obamacare taxes."

And don't believe for a second the new Obamacare taxes will hit only the "rich" or those making over $250,000.

Some do, but you'd be surprised at how many of these new taxes also hit the middle class.

Worse still, many of these new measures are disguised as taxes on businesses. The bulk of these "stealth taxes" will be transferred to consumers via higher prices for drugs and health insurance.

"The legislation imposes more than $569 billion in new or increased taxes, the vast majority of which will fall on businesses," writes Michael Tanner in a 2011 Cato Institute report on the impact of the healthcare law. "Many of those taxes, especially those on hospitals, insurers, and medical device manufacturers, will ultimately be passed on through higher health costs."

Even still, few realize just how many new taxes lurk within the law's 2,500-plus pages because most of the talk about the Affordable Care Act focused on the constitutionality of the individual mandate.

Of course, according to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, even that turned out to be a tax.

Obamacare Taxes You'll Pay Directly

In addition to the hidden Obamacare taxes, which we'll get to shortly, the law reaches directly into your pocket in several ways:



To continue reading, please click here...

The Real Impact of Obamacare Taxes

The Affordable Care Act is going to cost everyone thanks to a slew of Obamacare taxes.

The Affordable Care Act is primarily aimed at decreasing the number of uninsured Americans and reducing the overall costs of health care. Those who think the law won't change much about their healthcare or finances don't realize they'll likely be paying for it.

That's why Republicans are focused on striking down Obamacare should they nab a presidential victory in Election 2012. They claim that the taxes involved to pay for Obamacare will crush the middle class and most U.S. taxpayers, as well as trigger job losses in affected industries.

Republicans also harp on the fact that President Obama said he would not raise taxes.

"This bill was built with smoke and mirrors to hide the impact of the trillions of dollars of new entitlement spending," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-WI, said in a statement last Tuesday.

Here's a glimpse at what those Obamacare taxes will do to the country.

To continue reading, please click here...

Healthcare Reform Could Radically Change Your Benefit Plan

Both before and after Congress passed healthcare reform, Americans with employee health benefits were assured the legislation would not disrupt their coverage.

U.S. President Barack Obama has often repeated that pledge, which includes anyone who has health insurance.

"If you're one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance," the president said following the Supreme Court decision on June 28 that upheld Obamacare. "This law will only make it more secure and more affordable."

Of course, Republicans claims on Obamacare take the opposite extreme.

"Frankly, the people who have healthcare in this country and like it will not be able to keep what they have," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-VA, the same day.

While something of an exaggeration, Cantor may be closer to the real-life impact of the Affordable Care Act than the president, particularly when it comes to employee-sponsored health benefits.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates 154 million Americans - 72% of the non-elderly population - have health insurance through their employer.

While nothing in Obamacare explicitly forces employers to drop coverage, the healthcare reform law does introduce new rules and requirements. Those provisions will affect how employers offer health insurance, what plans they offer and if they offer any at all.

Business owners, for their part, are still making up their minds as to how they'll deal with the changes healthcare reform will bring (unless, of course, the Republicans sweep in November and repeal it).

To continue reading, please click here...

Healthcare Stocks: Second Quarter Earnings a Bitter Pill to Swallow

Healthcare stocks have been a hot topic since the Obamacare ruling marked a historic turning point for the industry - but so far companies' earnings have failed to keep the excitement going.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) was the first of the big healthcare stocks to release earnings, and the health care giant was in need of one of its trademark B and-A ids when it reported second- quarter net income fell by half.

With others in the sector set to report in the coming days, the mainstream numbers look weak.

J&J, dealing with tough market conditions, continuing manufacturing problems and other issues, lowered its profit forecast for the year. Second- quarter net income suffered due to a spate of litigation and acquisition- related charges.

The New Brunswick, N J - based company's r evenue slid by 0.7% on lower sales in the United States and lagging sales for consumer health products worldwide.

While results beat analysts' expectations for adjusted profit by a penny, they missed revenue forecasts by nearly $250 million.

To continue reading, please click here...

Healthcare Stocks: Mergers Show How Obamacare Will Deliver Profits

Want proof that healthcare stocks are poised to reap rewards from Obamacare?

Just take a look at this recent blockbuster healthcare merger.

Giant managed care firm WellPoint Inc. (NYSE: WLP) announced July 9 that it would buy Amerigroup Corp. (NYSE: AGP), the country's largest private Medicaid managed care company, for $4.9 billion in cash.

The day acquisition was announced, Amerigroup stock jumped 38%.

Of course, healthcare mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are nothing unusual. But a close look at this deal sheds light on the direction of the next major trend of consolidation within the industry.

In fact, when it narrowly upheld the Affordable Care Act (informally known as Obamacare), the Supreme Court unwittingly set the table for a new wave of M&A in a downtrodden healthcare space --Medicaid.

Government-sponsored programs like Medicaid and Medicare have traditionally been viewed as ho-hum businesses with razor-thin profit margins.

So why is WellPoint jumping with both feet into a business that is typically not a big money maker?

Let's take a closer look...

To continue reading, please click here...

How the New Healthcare Tax Affects You

The Supreme Court recently upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, sparking concern in the United States about the future of healthcare tax.

Even though some people argue the healthcare law is not a tax but instead a penalty, right now it's been ruled the former - and has become one of the key issues in Election 2012.

In a July 12 poll by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, 55% of American voters said ACA is a tax hike. But it doesn't necessarily mean they are against it.

Interestingly, 48% agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the law, while 49% believe that the U.S. Congress should repeal it.

In addition, 55% of American voters said a presidential candidate's position on health care is "extremely important" or "very important" to their November vote. Those who think Obamacare breaks the president's promise of not raising taxes could be lured to a GOP presidential vote.

Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a press release, "President Barack Obama has worked mightily to avoid the 'T' word, but most American voters say the ACA is in effect a tax hike. The big question is whether the Republicans can sell the idea to voters that the president's Affordable Care Act breaks his promise not to raise taxes on those who make less than $250,000. That's why what voters believe on this issue matters."

Whether it is a tax or a penalty, either way people are going to have to pay.

To continue reading, please click here...

WellPoint (NYSE: WLP) Rides the Obamacare Profit Wave Even Higher

Merger Monday lived up to its moniker today with news that WellPoint Inc. (NYSE: WLP), one of the largest U.S. health insurers, inked a deal to acquire Amerigroup Corp (NYSE: AGP).

The $4.9 billion deal would make the Indianapolis-based company the top private manager of Medicaid benefits.

The strategic move underscores WellPoint's bid to shore up its Medicaid business following the recent Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare. The combined company will have a Medicaid business presence in 19 states, the largest in the nation.

The transaction is expected to close in early 2013. Under the terms of the all-cash deal, WellPoint will pay a lofty $92 a share for all outstanding shares of Amerigroup, a nearly 43% premium to the company's closing price prior to announcement.

WellPoint CEO Angela F. Braly said in a statement, "We believe that this combination will create an industry in the government sector serving Medicaid and Medicare enrollees. This is an opportunity to capitalize on the strengths of both companies to better serve our members and position our companies for future growth as the health insurance industry changes."

WellPoint has been on a buying spree of late. In May, the company purchased contact lens retailer 1-800-Contacts, and last year it picked up CareMore, a provider of managed care for the elderly.

Read More…

Earnings Season Begins in the Stock Market Today

Friday's negative jobs report is hanging over the stock market today as the markets opened lower Monday morning. Investors will look to corporate earnings of major companies this week as the second-quarter earnings season unofficially begins.

Even though some major companies such as Research in Motion Ltd. (Nasdaq: RIMM) and Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) have recently announced earnings, Alcoa (NYSE: AA) unofficially kicks off the market's second-quarter earnings.

Investors hope that earnings do not follow the disappointing trend set by RIMM and NKE, but many other companies have already issued lower guidance for the upcoming quarter. This does not bode well for the economy which is trying to shrug off manufacturing, jobs and consumer confidence reports that all point towards "Recession 2013."

Many analysts expect earnings to be weak across the board. Corporate profits are starting to feel the sting of economic concerns overseas and at home.

Later this week JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) and Well Fargo (NYSE: WFC) report their earnings as well as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG).

Troubles in Spain continue to impact the confidence of investors as the yield on the Spanish 10-year bond crossed the 7% mark again.

Along with Alcoa here are some other companies in the news today.

To continue reading, please click here...

Don't Expect the Obamacare Ruling to Calm the Markets

Even before the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare was handed down yesterday the markets were selling off hard.

They were tanking on news that the latest European summit was unlikely to be a game-changer, that U.S. gross domestic product was a paltry 1.9% in the first quarter, and a New York Times story that JPMorgan Chase's derivatives loss could top $9 billion.

Then came the long-awaited decision from the country's highest court on the divisive healthcare law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which unhinged markets further.

The Court's historic decision shook the markets for several reasons.

But the single overriding effect of the mixed-bag decision will be its impact on markets going forward.

That's because the divided decision further fuels partisan politics going into the November elections and sets the stage for an all-or-nothing battle between Republicans and Democrats.

The chances of there being any compromise anywhere on any divisive issues before the elections is now mathematically zero, where before it was somewhere between slim and none.

The Bigger Issues Behind the Obamacare Ruling

What the markets now face aren't just healthcare, tax and spending issues.

As a result of the Court's stunning decision, we face something much bigger -- Constitutional issues of the highest and deepest order.

The High Court, with Chief Justice John Roberts unexpectedly siding with the Court's four liberal justices, rendered a 5-4 victory for President Barack Obama's prized legislation.

The ruling upholds the "individual mandate" that requires citizens to either pay for "minimum essential" health insurance or pay a "penalty" through the IRS as a "tax" towards offsetting the shared costs of national healthcare.

But the Court also struck down the Act's provision allowing the Federal Government to effectively "hold a gun to the head" of states if they failed to increase Medicaid benefits, largely expanded under the new law.

In its original form, states could lose all Federal funding of Medicaid for non-compliance with Federal demands.

By its decision the Court effectively admitted that the Commerce Clause argument underpinning the individual mandate's Constitutionality was null and void.

But while they said that the individual mandate that "forced" citizens to buy health insurance wasn't intended as a "command" that fell under the Commerce Clause, they incongruously flipped the argument on its head and agreed (by a one-vote majority) that the mandate was legal under Congress' authority to "tax" citizens for the benefit of the nation.

To continue reading, please click here...

Stock Market Today: Obamacare Upheld

Volatility in the stock market today is high due to several factors both domestically and abroad.

The Obamacare ruling is the main driver causing uncertainty in the market, followed by the start of the European Union summit today in Brussels.

The Obamacare ruling had been anticipated with such fervor that reporters camped in front of the Supreme Court for days before the decision.

They finally got one - and it may come as a surprise to many.

The controversial mandate that requires everyone to purchase healthcare by 2014 or pay a small fine was upheld. The vote came in at 5-4 with Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito dissenting.

Chief Justice Roberts said that the mandate is not a valid exercise of Congress's power under the Commerce Clause, but it will survive as a tax.

Republicans had been almost certain that the mandate would be stuck down and President Obama can now breathe a small sigh of relief that his healthcare overhaul has been upheld.

Back to the EU summit, which has been awaited with such pessimism that the yield on Spanish 10-year bonds has risen above 7% again and the euro slipped to a three-week low of $1.24 versus the dollar.

There is an unusual and detrimental air of division and discord among the European leaders heading into the summit. The continent needs to work towards more integration rather than fragmentation if they are to lay down a framework for better fiscal, financial and political union.

U.S. unemployment claims fell slightly from the 392,000 initial claims reported last week to a still alarmingly high number of 386,000 for the week ended June 23. The final estimate for the first quarter's gross domestic product (GDP) came in at the expected 1.9%, but that estimate had already been lowered last week by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Looking beyond these reports, here are some stocks in the headlines today.

To continue reading, please click here...

How to Trade the Obamacare Ruling

During a visit today (Wednesday) to Fox Business' "Varney & Co." program, Money Morning's Keith Fitz-Gerald tackled the issues surrounding the Obamacare ruling and how investors can trade the news.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to announce its Obamacare ruling tomorrow, we wanted to share with you this Q&A session with Keith on what you need to know about the decision.

Keith also shared what he thinks of Facebook stock as the market is flooded with analyst opinions from the underwriting firms.

You can see all of Keith's analysis in the video below.

Q, from "Varney & Co." host Stuart Varney: The Obamacare ruling is imminent. Will insurance companies tank if it's repealed, and how would you trade that?

A, Keith Fitz-Gerald: I can see this going two ways...

1)If it's upheld, insurance companies will make bank, but businesses offering services to small and mid-cap companies that are likely to be hamstrung are going to do better. That includes Paychex Inc. (Nasdaq: PAYX) or Express Scripts (Nasdaq: ESRX), for instance. Both will help small companies spend their healthcare dollars more efficiently.

2)If struck down, big insurance companies will have to retool and restructure as they are the ones that hold the biggest stake in this debate. It's a little late to make that bet today, but when the ruling is announced we'll have some clarity and can make a decision then.

To continue reading, please click here...

Healthcare Stocks: What Happens if Obamacare is Overturned

With the Supreme Court ruling on President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law just three weeks away, investors in healthcare stocks need to be prepared.

While some are confident the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a rejection of the law -- or at least of the mandate requiring everyone to buy insurance -- may be more likely.

If so, Obamacare could be toast.

Based on tough questioning from moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy in Supreme Court hearings in March, the odds of that happening are rising. In close cases, Kennedy is often the swing vote.

At InTrade - where people can bet on the outcome of real world events -the probability of Obamacare being overturned has risen to about 70%.

So what would happen to healthcare stocks if Obamacare was overturned?

Surprisingly, it is less than you'd think.

In fact, most healthcare stocks will benefit simply by having a definitive answer on the fate of the law. A decision would lift the uncertainty hanging over the sector since Obamacare passed in 2009.

"Coming off the market lows of 2009, you saw multiple expansion in virtually every sector of the S&P 500, but very little in health care," Eddie Yoon, Fidelity Investment's top health-care analyst, told Barron's.

Still, some healthcare stocks would gain more than others if Obamacare gets torpedoed. And a few could get a little dinged.

To continue reading, please click here...

With or Without "Obamacare" These Healthcare Stocks Are Headed Higher

The fat lady hasn't sung yet...but she is warming up.

Three days of arguments before the Supreme Court have made it abundantly clear - "Obamacare" is in danger of being gutted or completely wiped off the books.

Only one thing's for sure. Investors will want to keep buying healthcare stocks -especially as 10,000 baby boomers a day turn 65 years old for the next 20 years.

But there's one segment of the healthcare sector that will be sitting in the driver's seat when it comes to delivering healthy profits and investment returns - no matter how the court rules.

Here's what you need to know...

To continue reading, please click here...

Obamacare in the Balance: Key Takeaways from the Affordable Health Care Act Hearings


Three fast-paced days was all it took for nine justices to grill advocates arguing for and against the Affordable Care Act - better known as Obamacare.

A decision is expected in late June, just months before 2012 presidential elections.

Although it is notoriously difficult to predict U.S. Supreme Court decisions purely based on their questioning, here are my takeaways from these momentous three days.

To continue reading, please click here...