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Senate takes up drug pricing, healthcare bill

June 14, 2017

It’s going to be busy this week in the healthcare industry, with several key developments on the schedule that could have a major impact on the U.S. healthcare sector.

First, on Monday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the latest batch of Health Insurance Marketplaces enrollment numbers, and participation rates are significantly dropping. The CMS reported two million fewer covered individuals compared to the number of insured Americans at the end of the last enrollment period in January. The CMS said lack of affordability is the primary reason Americans are dropping their insurance coverage.

Next, the next step in the Affordable Care Act repeal and replacement process may happen as soon as this week.

“We expect Senate Republicans to send their version of the American Health Care Act to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) today or tomorrow, but we don’t expect the legislation will be shared publicly until after the score is returned to Senate leadership, representing a lack of transparency under fire by Democrats and by the New York Times Editorial Board today,” Height Securities wrote in a new note to clients on Tuesday.


Finally, on Tuesday morning, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee held a hearing entitled “The Cost of Prescription Drugs: How the Drug Delivery System Affects What Patients Pay.” The hearing is unlikely to have in any meaningful implications for the pharma industry, Height said. The firm notes that drug companies have seemingly succeeded in deflecting blame for rising prescription drug prices onto pharmacy benefit managers, and the Trump administration seems content to mostly maintain the status quo in the pharmaceutical industry.

So far this week, biotech and healthcare stocks have been mostly quiet. The Heath Care SPDR (ETF) XLV 0.21% is up 0.1 percent, while the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (ETF) IBB 0.41% is flat on the week.


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