(For coverage of U.S. healthcare reform, click on
Oct 13 The U.S. Senate Finance Committee on
Tuesday approved its version of legislation to overhaul the
nation's $2.5 trillion health care system.
Following are some of the health industry winners and losers
based on the Senate committee's bill.
* The pharmaceutical industry kept intact an $80 billion
rebate agreement with Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and
the White House. The industry successfully fended off a
challenge that would have called on Pfizer Inc (PFE.N),
GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK.L) (GSK.N), Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) and
others others to give back $106 billion over 10 years in
additional drug rebates under the Medicare insurance program
for the elderly and disabled.
* Hospitals kept a $155 billion, 10-year deal with
Baucus and the White House to accept lower government payments
from the Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs in
exchange for what the industry hopes will be an increase in
insured customers. Analysts do not expect the deal to change
much even as the bill is meshed with other proposals.
* Hospitals, which include companies such as Universal
Health Services Inc (UHS.N) and Tenet Healthcare Corp (THC.N),
were also exempted from any decisions made by an independent
Medicare Commission that would set reimbursement rates and make
other changes to the program.
LABORATORY TESTING COMPANIES
* Laboratory companies were happy to see the committee's
final bill drop a $750 million annual fee that had been
included in Baucus's original proposal. The fee would have hurt
companies such as Quest Diagnostics Inc (DGX.N) and Laboratory
Corporation of America Holdings (LH.N).
Imaging companies scored a victory with cuts to payments
for MRIs and other high-tech scans totaling an estimated $3
billion over 10 years, a figure lower than the $4.3 billion in
a House healthcare bill. Makers of imaging equipment include
General Electric Co (GE.N), Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE) and Philips
Electronics NV (PHG.AS).
* The insurance industry can claim a partial victory
because it lobbied to defeat amendments that would have
introduced a new government-run health insurance program.
But the industry, which includes Aetna Inc (AET.N),
UnitedHealth Group Inc (UNH.N), Cigna Corp (CI.N) and Humana
Inc (HUM.N), still faces more than $6 billion a year in fees.
* Private Medicare Advantage health plans for the elderly
and disabled offered by some companies will face a competitive
bidding process that aims to save the government $123 billion.
Such plans can offer more benefits than traditional
fee-for-service Medicare coverage but cost more.
* Medical devicemakers, such as Boston Scientific Corp
(BSX.N), Medtronic Inc (MDT.N) and Stryker Corp (SYK.N), still
face a $4 billion-a-year fee over 10 years, although some
analysts say that could be reduced as the various proposals are
melded together. The industry is expected to keep fighting to
remove or reduce the fee.
PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGERS
* Companies like CVS Caremark Corp (CVS.N), Express
Scripts Inc (ESRX.O) and Medco Health Solutions Inc MHS.N,
unsuccessfully fought a provision requiring them to give the
Department of Health and Human Services information about
rebates they get from drugmakers compared to those through
private Medicare drug plans, also known as Part D plans.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey, additional reporting by Bill
Berkrot, Lewis Krauskopf in New York; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz
and Richard Chang)