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What's Your Health Care Reform Play?

(Health care reform article updated from March 23 with the addition of multiple analysts, Wednesday news and stock market movements, and additional insight into the impact of health care reform.)

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Health care reform is a political reality -- so does health care again make sense as an investment story?

The buoyant atmosphere surrounding health care reform reached its zenith on Tuesday, when President Obama signed it into law. Health care reform had been written into law in late 2009, before it was written off in the Scott Brown era, before it was resurrected.

The action in health care stocks on Monday and Tuesday was intense as a result of President Obama's victory in making the most sweeping changes in the U.S. health care systems in decades.

It's a more complicated question than the bullish sentiment since the sudden passage of health care reform alone would suggest. It's a question that, in fact, may require health care investors to assume an investment horizon stretching out as far as 2014.

Since many of the benefits from the health care reform package will not come into play until 2014, all health care investors may be placed in a boat familiar to pharmaceutical stock investors specifically, who are accustomed to wagering on a multi-year drug pipeline probabilities.

Democrats may have "found god," as some commentators have suggested, in the parliamentary tactic known as reconciliation. For investors, though, there is no divine-like revealing of the specific health stocks to worship as investment saviors in the new health care era.

The conventional wisdom dictates that with the uncertainty related to reform finally removed, it's time for health care investors to come off the sidelines.

Monday's rally was greatest in the hospital sector and with stocks linked to Medicaid coverage, while on Tuesday many of these stocks ran into resistance, having achieved 52-week high marks just a day earlier.

Big pharma long ago cut its deal in Washington D.C. to minimize negative repercussions from the health-reform effort, yet big pharma stocks were also up modestly on Monday. And the fact that big pharma cut its deal with Washington D.C. way back when is part of the problem, actually.

Timing is everything in investing. So is it the right time to get into health care just because the year-old political saga is ending?

Health care analysts said on Monday that sentiment about health care clearly changed as a result of victory for President Obama's health care reform plan. However, a change in sentiment is not equal to a change in health care-stock fundamentals.

A Lazard Capital Markets research note on Monday depicted some of the health care investing in broad brush strokes, stating that the health care reform bill "impacts sentiment more than fundamentals." Yet Lazard Capital Markets analyst Tom Gallucci also wrote, "On the surface the passage of the bill by the House lends an element of increased certainty for now in terms of the playing field for health-care providers."

Stock quotes in this article: THC, HMA, HMSY, ESRX 

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