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Investment guru at Catalent owner Blackstone predicts Obamacare success

By Gareth MacDonald+

07-Jan-2014
Last updated on 07-Jan-2014 at 12:36 GMT

Obamacare will recover from its IT problems and thrive in 2014 according to a senior executive at the investment firm which owns Catalent.

Blackstone Advisory Partner’s vice chairman, Byron Wien, made the prediction as part of his “Top Ten surprises ” list, which he has compiled each year since 1986 when he was an investment strategist at Morgan Stanley.

Wien forecast that the Affordable Care Act will have "a remarkable turnaround. The computer access problems are significantly diminished and younger people begin signing up.

He also suggested that President Obama's approval rating will rise and that in "the November elections the Democrats not only retain control of the Senate but even gain seats in the House.”

The 2010 Affordable Care Act – Obamacare - launched late last year despite Republican efforts to derail the legislation that forced the US Government – including agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – to ‘shutdown’ until a budget could be agreed.

However, when the scheme did go live it was IT problems rather than political opposition that were the biggest immediate concerns, as President Obama acknowledged .

When they launched in October Federal and State run ‘marketplace’ websites designed to let US citizens compare insurance plans, learn about available public subsidies either crashed or underperformed and made it impossible to sign up.

Wien’s forecast fits with what the Obama administration said in December when Jeff Zients – then in charge of the problematic Healthcare.gov website – told ABC news that most of the issues had been resolved.

According to official figures , by the end of December, 2.1 million US citizens had signed up.

Zients has been replaced by ex-Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene who will oversee the sites beyond March 31, which is when the Obama administration either estimated or guaranteed – depending on which parts of the US press you believe - that 7 million will have signed up.

Evidently Wien – who advises the billion dollar fund that owns Catalent and has significant stakes in Gerresheimer and Pacific Biosciences – believes that the improvements will continue.