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In a brief 10-minute period starting at 9:32 a.m., the stock value of the nation’s largest hospital chain, HCA Holdings Inc., jumped from $26.81 per share to $27.53 as bidders bought several hundred thousand shares before the court made its announcement just after 10 a.m.
The bidders who snatched up shares before the announcement made a gain of roughly $2 a share once the price rose again after the court officially announced its backing for the law.
The bidding and the price jump came more than 30 minutes before Chief Justice John Roberts read his unexpected decision from the bench.
At roughly 10:06 a.m., Roberts announced that the law was constitutional, providing it was reinterpreted as a tax increase.
The law uses government power to funnel patients — including people with new government-provided insurance policies — toward existing hospitals, including HCA’s hospitals.
In contrast to HCA, there was little trading — and little movement in the stock price — of other hospital chains before the public announcement.
The absence of movement in their other companies’ stocks suggest that a few bidders targeted HCA’s stock.
The absence of movement in other companies’ stocks also suggests that the HCA investment was not driven by software analysis of the hospital sector.