U.S. health care stocks are poised for a potentially ugly trading session Monday as investors weigh in on a judge’s ruling that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — the main part of the Affordable Care Act statutory package — is unconstitutional.
A judge sided with Texas late Friday in a lawsuit alleging that Congress’s decision in 2017 to kill a related tax penalty essentially voided all of PPACA. While many analysts expect the ruling to be reversed by higher courts, the news adds to volatility in a sector that had barely recovered from political overhangs this year and yet remains the top performing sector in the S&P 500.
(Related: Texas Judge Throws Out Most of ACA)
U.S. hospital stocks are most at risk from the latest ruling, and could be down materially, according to Jefferies health care strategist Jared Holz. Health insurers could also drop, but some of that may be priced in because they fell ahead of the ruling, he said.
“Texas just really messed with us,” Holz said in a note. “The market skittishness could cause exaggerated moves in health care stocks tomorrow and early in the week.”
Health care investors already were licking their wounds from Johnson & Johnson’s $45 billion plunge on Friday related to a Reuters report about asbestos in baby powder.