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Posted at 4:38 PM ET, 01/13/2011

Policy uncertainty rears its head

By Ezra Klein

You'll remember how policy uncertainty was a big worry for Republicans in the run-up to the election. The idea was that if business didn't know what next year's policy would look like, they couldn't make investments. There wasn't much of evidence of it at the time, but there is now -- and it's because of the Republicans:

Investors say they’re increasingly optimistic on health insurers’ future for two crucial reasons: Regulations released this year have been relatively industry-friendly, increasing stability, and the health reform’s new business opportunities are beginning to look more tangible.

“As it stands today, we still have compressed valuations because of uncertainty, but that is rolling off as we get more clarity,” says Les Funtleyder, a portfolio manager with Miller Tabak Advisors LLC . “Combined with continued strong performance related to health care growth cost trends means stocks should benefit.”

At the J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference in San Francisco this week, major health insurers outlined the major expansion opportunities they see in the health reform law.

Aetna is exploring how to capitalize on the individual market, expected to boom in 2014 when Americans must purchase health insurance or pay a fine.

“We have major efforts underway to strategize on how to take advantage of those opportunities,” said the insurer’s CFO, Joseph M. Zubretsky, in a presentation to health investors. “We’re clearly understanding the risks…but with millions coming on to the health exchanges, one needs to not only balance risk but really understand the opportunity for growth that exists in this market place.”

In other words, the health-care industry is having to balance investments that it wants to make against the concern that Republicans will repeal the bill and yank away those opportunities. Before the election, John Boehner said employers "are afraid to invest and hire in an economy stalled by ‘stimulus’ spending and hamstrung by uncertainty." Now he's the guy stringing the hams.

By Ezra Klein  | January 13, 2011; 4:38 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Next: Discomfort with comfort

Comments

Ezra

Since you disrespect the Constitution because it is 100 years old, you wouldn't mind us re-doing the 2008 election, would you?


I'm sure McCain is up for it.


The country could then consider Obama's conduct over the past two years.


So how about it? We just have another election -

_______________________

Weekly Re-Cap


After 3 years of a Bait-and-Switch Circus from Obama,

this week, the nation was served with a 5 day Attack Campaign against the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.


When the country rejected the baseless charges which attempted to link innocent people to a mass murder, Obama called for civility and a truce.


Ouch.

Pathetic.


HOW ABOUT if Obama just resigns - and the nation starts to heal without him and liberals?


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 13, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

EK -- sorry the crazies have found you. Ah, another comment section ruined. Sigh.

Posted by: AZProgressive | January 13, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

AZProgressive, are they crazies, or are they paid trolls? I've read that few people with strong beliefs read the writings from the opposite side of the political spectrum (I rarely do), but here we have conservatives investing a great deal of their time on a liberal blog, commenting extensively, and many of them exclusively during business hours. A more sensible explanation is that someone is hiring an army of conservatives to go to liberal web sites and post trash talk to disrupt the interchange of ideas.

Posted by: DavidinCambridge | January 13, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm really not surprised that ACA is going over well with business. It's what I fully expected. Moreover, the GOP case against it is totally blown away by FactCheck.org.

Posted by: valkayec | January 13, 2011 5:54 PM | Report abuse

the MLR was industry friendly? Nothing Sec. Sebelius has done has been industry friendly. Will Medicaid allow insurers to garner a foothold there to make a profit? Possibly. But how much of one? The requirement for coverage should stem the tide of lesser enrollments over the years but I'd hardly say this is a sector that investors would flock to espeically with all the single payer advocates out there.


David,

love the conspiracy theory. Some may be paid obviously on BOTH sides. I for one am not and post reguarly. My job has me on conference calls a lot during the day as well as some busy times and some not so busy and gives me plenty of free time to post on the site although I'd love to be paid so if you have any suggestions let me know!

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 13, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Ezra:
This is important to get out. I wonder, given your even-handedness, if you could attempt to define what exactly the Republican policy agenda is?
From here, it is difficult to define and seems to be hidden in a strong rhetorical.
Thanks

Posted by: joesolo | January 13, 2011 10:38 PM | Report abuse

I thought about commenting outside of "business hours" [Pelosispeak for "times Democrat lobby groups are on duty"]...

The PPACA -- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as it is defined in statue (which its proponents prefer to be called the "Obama/Pelosi ACA") -- has been proven to be a budget-buster: proponents prefer to cite estimates, while realists prefer to cite actual cost data collected by the very administration which issued the "scientific" estimates.

Why is this point still present in rhetoric? Is fact simply not a facet of Democrat thinking?

Posted by: rmgregory | January 13, 2011 11:49 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr: Your post is respectful and thoughtful, very unlike that of RainForestRising. If I were paying you to make disruptive and incendiary comments, I'd fire you on the spot. Liberal blog comment sections are overrun with drivel from the likes of RFR.

And I don't see anything equivalent on the left. Not surprising, since other than George Soros, there is a dearth of left-wing billionaires inclined to pay an army of trolls. Not so on the right.

Posted by: DavidinCambridge | January 14, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

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