Donald Trump’s vow to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act creates uncertainties for providers.

With much about President-elect Trump’s health-care agenda still unclear, the health-care industry’s initial response to his election has been scattered. Hospital stocks were down. Health insurers’ stock prices were mixed. Pharmaceutical and biotech stocks, on the other hand, got a big bump.

Trump’s clearest policy position in health care has been his commitment to repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with another policy. But the responses to his election varied in large part because the details of what would replace the Affordable Care Act and how that transition would occur have been vague.

“These health organizations are like large ships, and you can’t turn them on a dime,” said Benjamin Isgur, a leader in the PwC Health Research Institute. “When you think back to what it took to get ready for the ACA, for many health-care companies, it was two to three years of developing plans and provider networks and marketing plans. … There’s a lot of work that is required to implement any new program.”

The health-care industry has benefited under the Affordable Care Act, Isgur pointed out. As the uninsured rate has declined, health-care providers such as hospitals and health systems can serve more people with insurance. Drug companies benefit when more people have access to their drugs.

Although much has been made of the instability of the marketplaces where people without employer-insurance can buy coverage, it has remained attractive to many insurers who see the business as viable in the long term.

Major health insurers’ stocks were mixed Wednesday, with some slightly up and some way down, likely reflecting the confusion about what the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would entail and how and when it would be enacted. Aetna was up 3 percent in midday trading, for example, while UnitedHealth Group was down 2 percent.

Companies that have been performing relatively well on the exchanges and Medicaid plummeted.


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