) -- The less uncertainty there is about healthcare reform, the more it benefiting healthcare stocks -- that seemed to be the message Monday afternoon, as the market sent shares of most healthcare stocks up.

With positive news over the weekend about the Senate taking up floor debate of the proposed healthcare legislation, and certain key senators coming on board, the healthcare sector was up 1.2% at midday.

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Also notable among positive sentiment for the sector was a JPMorgan Chase Monday morning upgrade of two managed care stocks,





(CI) - Get Report

, to overweight from neutral.

"While with the headwinds of unemployment, Medicare rates, flu and Cobra, it's difficult to get excited about 2010 operating results, we like the longer-term view more than we have in some time, with underwriting margins having reset to levels we haven't seen in years. Importantly, we believe this creates the backdrop for a second, sustainable leg in the stocks, once we get through reform," the JPMorgan analysts wrote in a research update.

Thomas Carroll, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus, said in an email that the Stifel Nicolaus team has also been getting more positive on managed care, under the theme of "reform is more visible than not."

Wellpoint was up 4.6% at midday on the upgrade, while Cigna was up more than 7%.


(HUM) - Get Report

was up 3.6%; its CEO also said in an interview the Wall Street Journal that it was pursuing acquisitions in complementary areas and focusing on a $200 million cost cutting initiative.

Coventy Healthcare


was up more than 5% at mid-day, mirroring the surge by most stocks in the sector.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York

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