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Who really wins in this fight?

Posted Feb 09 2010 9:30am
President Obama that the population of the U.S. will undoubtedly and universally benefit most from his health care reform. However the question remains – politically and financially speaking, who is bound to rise or fall?

Which lawmakers gain the most from the final bill, and who lost ground? Which sectors of the industry stand to see a boost in productivity, and which may have yet to reach their lowest?

Political winners

*obama* President Obama: Getting a health care reform package through Congress is a legislative feat of epic proportions.

John McCain: The Republican senator from Arizona shows a feisty opposition on the Senate floor, reaffirming his leadership in the GOP.

Ben Nelson: The Democratic senator from Nebraska played the legislative process well, getting both stricter language about abortion funding and full federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid in the Cornhusker State.

Lobbyists: The health care industry and constituents have already spent $393 million lobbying Washington in 2009 and there are still 3,300 lobbyists playing their cards at the table. With the dropping of the public option and other concessions from side of the Democrats, they proved that they still have a heap of power yet to be displayed in the game of the debate.

Political losers

Harry Reid: The Senate Majority Leader got health care reform through, but all of the attacks on the bill have caused his popularity in Nevada to drop right before

Joe Lieberman

his 2010 re-election bid.

Joe Lieberman: Lieberman’s high-profile opposition to the Medicare buy-in effectively killed the public option, causing an even greater divide between the Connecticut independent and the Democrats he tends to be more aligned with. If he runs in 2012, the left will be all too eager to unseat him once and for all.

Progressive liberals: Progressives watched Congress axe the public option and slowly dismantle their version of the bill.

Industry winners

Even though some in the industry fear a financial drop off, with more uninsured people becoming potential customers, more patients means exponentiallyt more profits. Here are some sectors that will benefit from higher spending on medical care:

Hospitals: Worried they would have to pay too high a price for the overhaul, hospitals were the first industry sector to make a deal with Obama and the Senate Finance Committee. Hospital groups agreed to give up $155 billion in Medicare funds over the next decade, or about an 8% cut. But the industry believes it will gain $170 billion by having to treat fewer uninsured patients.

Device makers: Medical device makers such as Boston Scientific and Medtronic Inc. won a big reduction in an industry tax to $20 billion, down from $40 billion, to conform with the House bill, something that might be delayed until 2013.

Technology: Companies that sell software programs for storing medical records that are used to managing hospitals and private physician practices will see a boost with reform’s emphasis on electronic medical records.

Diagnostics: The tests that industry leaders Quest Diagnostics and Laboratory Corp. of America perform every day-from measuring cholesterol levels to conducting highly sophisticated genetic tests-are integral not only to preventive care and early medical diagnosis but also to long-term cost savings.

Home health care: Providers of home health care would see smaller payment cuts that are also imposed more gradually. The bill would delay by one year, until 2014, changes to reimbursement rates.

Industry losers

Insurers: Even with no public option, insurers don’t like provisions that prohibit them from denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition, or charging higher premiums for new customers with pre-existing conditions. Private Medicare plans called Medicare Advantage would see roughly $118 billion in cuts over 10 years, according to various analysts.

Generic drugmakers: Companies that make cheaper, generic versions of brand-name medicines get little direct help from the bill. As it sets up a regulatory path for generic versions of expensive biologic drugs, it also grants brand-name biologics exclusive sales for 12 years (up from the old time frame of five to seven years).

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs): PBMs, which administer prescription drug benefits, face more disclosures. Under the bill, companies must give the Department of Health and Human Services information about rebates they get from drugmakers for medications sold through retail and mail-order pharmacies compared to those through Medicare drug plans.

Nursing homes: Provisions that limit how many patients a therapist can oversee at one time could affect costs and staffing at nursing homes. Such facilities are run both by nonprofit organizations as well as by for-profit


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