‘What More Do You Need to Know?’
By Eoin Higgins
Common Dreams (3/4/20)
Health insurance industry stocks surged Wednesday morning in the wake of former Vice President Joe Biden’s strong showing in the Democratic presidential primary’s Super Tuesday contests, opening up 600 points after traders appeared to bet the candidate’s resurgence would box out any chance of single-payer universal healthcare.
“What more do you need to know,” tweeted journalist Jack Mirkinson of the market’s spike.
Sanders has made Medicare for All a centerpiece of his campaign. The healthcare industry has poured millions in ad buys against Sanders after the Vermont senator won primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada.
“The industry has long seen Biden as their white knight,” said Dr. Adam Gaffney, the president of Physicians for a National Health Program and an outspoken Medicare for All advocate.
Biden on Tuesday won at least nine of the 14 states up for grabs to Sanders’ four. At press time, Maine was yet to be called, with Sanders and Biden locked in a razor-thin contest.
The market surge came after a rough week for the stock market, which at the end of February saw its biggest decline since the 2008 financial crisis after fears of the economic cost of a worldwide coronvirus pandemic increased.
Business commentators also made the connection between Sanders’ victories in the early primary states, particularly in Nevada, and the market’s poor performance last week.
On Fox Business February 28, billionaire Steve Forbes remarked that the weeklong drop was not only about fears of the coronavirus.
“There’s the political side,” Forbes said of the reason for the poor performance. “In the last week, week-and-a-half, the possibility of Bernie Sanders becoming president of the United States has increased, exponentially.”
According to the Washington Post:
“Stocks of healthcare companies roared in response to Biden’s performance. Cigna was up more than 10 percent in morning trading, while UnitedHealth Group rose nearly 12 percent. Humana jumped 1.25 percent and Anthem soared nearly 14 percent.”
Investor Ed Yardeni told the Post that Wednesday’s spike was a correction to earlier fears of what he called “Bernie Sanders’ socialist program.”
“The market’s sell-off last week on Sanders’ primary victories and rebound on Monday after Biden’s big win in South Carolina and this morning after Super Tuesday suggest that domestic U.S. politics may matter as much as the global health crisis on investors,” said Yardeni.
As Common Dreams reported, the results—which saw billionaire Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) coming in far behind the two frontrunners—transformed a once-crowded primary into a two-man race. Though Biden put up a good showing, exit polls from the contests showed a majority of Democratic voters backing the elimination of private insurance in favor of a government-run system guaranteeing healthcare for all.
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