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A medical emergency\?

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Healthcare related stocks are in the news late this afternoon as shares of healthcare provider Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC) $32.00 -17%, which has fallen sharply from the $48 level in the past four sessions has been halted on reports that one of the company's medical centers was raided yesterday by agents from the FBI, Health and Human Services (HHS) and IRS.

Within the past hour, the company issued a press release expressing concern regarding allegations contained in an affidavit filed today by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento, California, regarding two physicians who practice at Tenet's Redding Medical Center in Redding, CA.

Tenet said it is fully cooperating with the U.S. Attorney regarding the matter, which involves alleged false billings and unnecessary angioplasties, coronary bypasses and heart catheterizations by the two physicians. Tenet stressed that the decision to perform any medical procedure is the decision of the attending physician, and Tenet hospitals must rely upon the professionalism of its physicians in making these evaluations.

The Morgan Stanley Health Provider Index (RXH.X) 293 -7.14% trades sharply lower as Tenet (THC) is a component of this index.

Shares of Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) $46.18 -3.89% are also trading lower after reports surfaced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced changes to the hospital outpatient prospective payment system. While the announcement includes a rule that will significantly reduce the reimbursement rate for Aranesp in the hospital outpatient setting, AMGN says the outpatient setting accounts for approx. 10% of current Aranesp revenues. While AMGN carries a large weighting in the Biotechnology Index (BTK.X) 344 -0.34%, it is off just marginally.

Just after the bond market closed at 03:00 PM EST, stocks have started to progress lower from previous unchanged levels. Treasuries finished near their highs of the session.

Current stats have the Dow Industrials lower by 66 points, S&P 500 off 8.4 points, S&P 100 down 3.4 points, NASDAQ Composite holding a 1 point gain, NASDAQ-100 up 1.7 points and Russell-2000 unchanged.

Volume is slightly below average at both the NYSE and NASDAQ with NYSE volume just over the 1.2 billion market, while NASDAQ volume is approaching the 1.5 billion mark.

Breadth remains modestly positive with the NYSE having 17 advancers versus 15 decliners, while NASDAQ breadth narrows slightly with 16 advancers versus 15 decliners.

Jeff Bailey

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