Considering the sweeping changes Barack Obama is making to healthcare, what’s the trade?
Obama's 2010 budget proposal takes direct aim at drugmakers and health insurers to help fund an overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.
“If you look out over time the key to our future is healthcare… and there are substantial opportunities to make healthcare work better,” said White House budget director Peter Orszag on Thursday’s Fast Money.
The plan, outlined Thursday, calls for lowering Medicare payments to private insurers, allowing consumers to buy cheaper medicines from overseas and preventing drug companies from making deals that block generic competition.
What's the trade?
Obama has also pledged to immediately make investments to computerize all US medical records within five years while protecting individuals' privacy. And one company positioned to profit from this sea change is Athenahealth .
As you might remember from our January 13th show, Athenahealth was one of Fast Money's 100 trades for the first hundred days.This firm makes internet-based software to organize billing and diagnosis records. "Essentially AthenaHealth helps doctors get paid more money, faster with less hassle," according to AthenaHealth CEO Jonathan Bush.
And in case you noticed that shares of Athenahealth plunged on Friday, Bush tells us he has no idea why the stock tanked. “We are positioned for an unbelievable future. Investors will be back because things have never been better at Athena.”
If you're interested, following is a more detailed breakdown of the proposed health care budget.
Agency: Health and Human Services
2010 proposal: $821.7 billion ($78.7 billion for discretionary spending, plus $453 billion for Medicare and $290 billion for Medicaid)
Change from 2009 estimate: 7.5 percent increase
Highlights: The government's gargantuan health insurance programs for the elderly and poor would grow more slowly under Obama's proposed health care budget.
Obama wants to squeeze Medicaid and Medicare spending to help create a 10-year, $634 billion fund billed as a "down payment" on his goal of providing health insurance for all. He would use $316 billion in savings from those entitlement programs and predicts other savings by reducing the rate by which wealthier people can cut their taxes through certain deductions.
Obama's budget proposal acknowledges that "additional funding will be needed" for health coverage for all, but doesn't say how much or where it would come from.
Experts say achieving universal coverage could top $1 trillion over 10 years.
The 2010 budget for Medicare, the health insurance program for people 65 and older, is proposed at $453 billion. That's a 6.5 percent increase from 2009.
Medicaid, which covers certain poor and disabled people, would be funded at $290 billion in 2010, up 12 percent from 2009.
Some of the Medicare savings would come from scaling back payments to private insurance plans that serve older Americans, which many analysts believe to be inflated.
Other proposals include charging upper-income beneficiaries a higher premium for Medicare's prescription drug coverage, and increasing the amount of money drug manufacturers rebate to states for prescription drugs covered under Medicaid.
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