With new polls in Massachusetts giving Republican Scott Brown the edge in the Senate race against Martha Coakley, a number of analysts are starting to calculate the market implications if the Democrats lose their 60-vote majority in the Senate.
"I think you can make a pretty good argument that health care might be dead," Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) told MSNBC this morning. "I think it's going to be very hard to ask us in the House to take the Senate bill when everyone acknowledges it was a worse bill. Everyone said the only reason we were passing the Senate bill was to move the ball forward."
That could be good news for investors in managed care companies, which faced some deep cuts to their Medicare programs. But it places biotech in an awkward position. While Obama reportedly recently kicked back against a provision in the reform bill laying out 12 years of protected status for biologics, a solid majority of lawmakers in both parties have lined up for it. A bill that includes such a provision is virtually a dream scenario for the biotech industry, which had faced calls for a much shorter length of data protection from leading lawmakers like Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).
If reform goes through now, biotech gets what it has wanted all along. If reform founders, that very expensive debate could start all over again. And there are no guarantees that the industry will hang on to 12 years of protected status.