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Health insurers riding postelection wave

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Health insurers are extending their postelection streak before the opening bell thanks to several ballot initiatives and the increased chance that a divided Congress that may not repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Shares of Centene Corp., WellCare Health Plans Inc. and Humana Inc., up between 7 percent and 9 percent this week, all edged higher in premarket trading, defying the broader markets which are retreating Thursday. The hospital chain HCA Healthcare Inc., up 5 percent for the week, is rising again.

Industry analysts believe congressional gridlock reduces the risk of major changes for the companies to deal with.

Voters in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah passed ballot measures to expand the federally and state funded Medicaid program. Centene and WellCare both devote large parts of their business to running Medicaid coverage.

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