Healthcare stocks rise after fiscal cliff averted

Healthcare company stocks enjoyed mild gains in the wake of the recent fiscal cliff settlement, reported the Associated Press.

The agreement, reached on Jan. 1, led to relatively mild cuts in Medicare payments to hospitals, but also included a "fix" to the sustained growth rate formula for physicians, and extended a program to provide supplementary payments to rural hospitals for another year.

Shares of Dallas-based hospital operator Tenet Healthcare rose about 3 percent, or $1 per share, in trading the day after the fiscal cliff negotiations settled. It has maintained that gain in the intervening trading days, according to company stock quotes.

Similarly, HCA holdings, another for-profit hospital operator, saw a 3 percent gain that it has maintained. However, the shares of Vanguard Health Systems remained virtually unchanged in trading on the New York Stock Exchange, according to its company stock quotes.

Kindred Healthcare, an operator of skilled nursing facilities, saw its shares rise about 2 percent. However, Kindred President Paul J. Diaz said the company would take a $20 million to $30 million hit to its 2013 earnings as a result of planned Medicare cuts for rehabilitation therapy, according to a statement. Diaz also said the fiscal cliff deal  would not have a significant impact on the company's overall cash flow and operations.

To learn more:
- read the Associated Press article
- here's the Kindred Healthcare statement