With the presidential race in a dead heat less than three weeks from Election Day, it’s a good time to break down the prognosis for healthcare stocks depending on whether President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney emerges victorious on Nov. 6.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lion’s share of Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) in June, Romney has vowed to repeal the landmark healthcare reform law on his “first day in office” if he’s elected. He would first issue an Executive Order granting Obamacare waivers to all 50 states, then work with Congress to “repeal and replace” the law.
If Obama is reelected, the battle for the future of healthcare once again will be waged between the opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, with congressional Republicans likely to add a new refrain to the “repeal and replace” tune: delay. Since the Department of Health & Human Services has so far provided limited guidance to states about health insurance exchanges, ACA opponents will try to push back the law’s 2014 implementation date, as Politico explains.
Obamacare foes seem sure to keep enough friends in the House to advance a “repeal, replace or delay” agenda. As of this writing, 199 GOP seats can be considered safe, and another 25 either are likely or leaning Republican, for a total of 224, according to Roll Call’s latest projections. Republicans only need 218 seats to hold on to the House.
But if Republicans are to repeal, replace or delay Obamacare, they’ll need a lot more help in the U.S. Senate, which today has 47 Republicans, 51 Democrats and two Independents, who typically caucus with the Democrats. Sixty-seven U.S. Senators (37 Republicans and 30 Democrats) aren’t on the ballot this year.
Of the 33 Senate seats up for grabs, six are safe or likely Republican, 16 are safe, likely or leaning Democrat, and two are safe or leaning Independent. If conventional wisdom and current polls bear out, that adds up to a total of 46 Democrats, two Independents who caucus with them and 43 Republicans.
That means control of the U.S. Senate — and the fate of any GOP plan to derail Obamacare — hinges on nine races that still too close to call: Massachusetts, Virginia, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Nevada and North Dakota.
Obviously, simple math can’t account for all the complex nuances of the presidential race, let alone the impact of state and local elections for the U.S. Senate and the House. That said, let’s break down healthcare sector winners and losers in two potential election scenarios: