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Trump order could split insurance market; judge tosses suit against UnitedHealth

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Trump order could split insurance market; judge tosses suit against UnitedHealth

President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order in the coming week that will roll back certain insurance rules established by the Affordable Care Act, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a senior administration official. The executive order will direct federal agencies to find ways to expand insurance options for Americans with the goal of lowering premiums.

The executive order may divide the insurance market, according to another report in the Journal. The order may result in healthy people signing up for expanded, less-expensive plans, leaving a pool of sicker and higher-risk people that may potentially see higher costs.

Trump said he had contacted U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to discuss the prospects of working together on a healthcare bill. White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said Trump's new willingness to work with Democrats on healthcare is more about reminding Republicans they have not kept their promise to repeal the ACA.

The Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor announced two companion interim final rules rolling back the ACA's contraceptive coverage mandate that requires employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. The rules offer an exemption to employers that object to covering contraception services due to sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed lawsuits to block the new rules, The New York Times reported.

Financial data from insurers for the first half of 2017 indicates that the individual ACA market has been stabilizing and insurers are regaining profitability, even amid political and policy uncertainty over the health law's future, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A federal judge threw out a lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group Inc. alleging the insurer overcharged Medicare with false beneficiary claims, Reuters reported. U.S. District Judge John Walter in Los Angeles ruled that the suit failed to identify corporate officers who vouched for the accuracy of the data submitted to the Medicare program, or allege any of those officers knew the data was false. The Justice Department has until Oct. 13 to amend its complaint.

Puerto Rico bond insurers voluntarily withdrew without prejudice their legal challenge to the island's fiscal plan, citing the crisis caused by Hurricane Maria and the strong probability of a revision. MBIA Inc. unit National Public Finance Guarantee Corp., as well as Assured Guaranty Ltd. units Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp. and Assured Guaranty Corp., which had challenged the legality of the island's turnaround plan, believe that there is a strong likelihood that the fiscal plan will be amended.

After making landfall in Mississippi on Oct. 7 as a Category 1 hurricane, Nate weakened early on Oct. 8 to a tropical storm and is now a post-tropical cyclone, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory issued at 5 a.m. ET on Oct. 9.

Allied World and Hudson Structured Capital Management Ltd. are backing an insurance startup, Vault, The Insurance Insider reported. Vault, to be headquartered in New York, targets high-net-worth clients led by former American International Group Inc. private client president and Tower Hill CEO Charles Williamson.

Aflac Inc. filed a preliminary prospectus for an offering of an undisclosed amount of Japanese yen-denominated subordinated debentures due 2047.

In people news, Delta Dental of Kentucky Inc. named J. Jude Thompson CEO.

And, David Eslick has been appointed chairman of the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers effective Oct. 11, Business Insurance reported. Eslick is the chairman and CEO of Marsh LLC unit Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC.

Featured news

J&J's single-pill HIV drug passes trial; WHO fights plague in Madagascar: Johnson & Johnson's single-tablet regimen for HIV met the main goal of a phase 3 study; and an outbreak of plague in Madagascar has killed 33 people, prompting the World Health Organization to take action.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Far Eastern International Bank hacked; SBI Life gets nod to open Bahrain branch

Europe: EC antitrust raids; HSBC chooses new CEO; Deutsche Börse in euro clearing push

Middle East & Africa: S&P revises Ghana outlook; Iran unveils fintech policy; US lifts Sudan sanctions

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 0.46% to 28326.59. The Nikkei 225 climbed 0.30% to 20,690.71.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 slid 0.21% to 7,507.14, while the Euronext 100 was up 0.06% to 1,043.92.

On the macro front

The TD Ameritrade Investor Movement Index is due out today.