Hospital stocks dip after Obama, Romney debate

GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's performance in the first of three debates with President Barack Obama last week has investors running scared from hospital stocks, USA Today reported.

HCA Holdings dropped 2.3 percent on trading Thursday, the day after the debate, while Tenet Healthcare's stock dropped nearly 2 percent and Healthsouth's stock dropped 1.6 percent, according to Reuters--despite an overall stock market rally that day.

HCA and Tenet have since rebounded slightly, but not back to their pre-debate levels. Healthsouth continued to decline late last week.

"Under Obamacare, there will be a couple of million more paying customers for hospitals which will keep the beds full and increase their profits," Steven Roge, a portfolio manager at R.W. Roge & Company, told USA Today. "But now that Romney is back in the race and talking about turning back on Obamacare, there is a higher probability of that risk coming to fruition."

Gary Lieberman, an analyst for Wells Fargo, offered a similar sentiment to Reuters: "Hospitals had been rallying on the likelihood of Obama's healthcare reform getting implemented as it looked like he had pulled ahead in polls," he said.

During the debate, Romney offered conflicting views on the Affordable Care Act, saying it should not be implemented on a federal level, but advocating for some of its facets, such as requiring insurers to take enrollees who have pre-existing medical conditions. A repeal of the ACA would require Romney in the White House, a GOP majority in the House and at least 60 Republican Senators to avoid a filibuster by Democrats.

For more:
- here's the USA Today article
- read the Reuters article

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