The boom in U.S. oil and gas production during the president’s first term will likely continue, thanks largely to new drilling techniques. But drilling could slow if the Environmental Protection Agency toughens rules governing a controversial technique called hydraulic fracturing.
Obama backs the idea of a federal clean-energy standard that would require the country to use more low-carbon energy sources, such as wind and solar for electricity and advanced biofuels and batteries in cars.
But Republican opposition is so strong it’s doubtful Obama could muster enough support in Congress for it. There would be bipartisan opposition to any administration effort to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists say contribute to climate change.
— HEALTH CARE:
Obama’s victory preserves his health care overhaul, which aims to cover millions of uninsured Americans. The law requires everyone, with certain exceptions, to have insurance or pay a penalty. It calls for the expansion of Medicaid. And it requires online exchanges where people can shop for coverage.
Health insurers, which have struggled to increase enrollment in a tough economy, will gain new customers. But the industry pays for that growth. Insurers will have to cover fees totaling $8 billion in 2014 and topping $14 billion by 2018. Those fees will go to the government to help cover the cost of expanded care.
The law also limits how much insurers can vary pricing based on age and health.
‘‘In the past, it was relatively easy to just absorb increases in health care costs and pass them through to customers via higher premiums,’’ said Matthew Coffina, a Morningstar analyst who covers health insurers. ‘‘That equation is sort of breaking down now, which is forcing them to be more careful on the cost side, to try to contain costs in whatever way they can.’’
Drugmakers and hospitals may get a boost. Hospitals typically provide charity care to uninsured people and are reimbursed for only part of it. Now, they'll be paid through insurance for more people. And drugmakers will benefit from the law because starting in 2014, millions more will gain prescription coverage.
Still, drugmakers will have to give the government rebates on drugs bought through Medicaid. And they must give discounts to the elderly that will rise over time.
Obama’s re-election also likely means medical device makers will start paying a 2.3 percent tax. They vowed to continue lobbying Congress to try to head off the tax.
‘‘There may be an opportunity to address the tax before it goes into effect on Jan. 1,’’ said J.C. Scott, chief lobbyist for AdvaMed, the industry’s main trade group.
— FINANCIAL REGULATION:
The 2010 overhaul of financial rules marked a victory for Obama. Officials who are still carrying out the details of the law may now be more likely to take a tough stance.
One example is an oversight plan for derivatives — complex investments that speculators use to make bets and companies use to hedge against risk. Financial companies have fought for looser rules and exceptions for derivatives used by farmers who want to lock in prices before a harvest.
Obama’s victory means financial companies, which mostly backed Romney, might lose influence in these negotiations. His re-election also figures to embolden the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bureau aims to protect people from hidden fees and other unfair practices by financial companies.
Republicans want to give Congress authority over the bureau’s budget. But without the presidency or a stronger majority in either chamber of Congress, they won’t likely be able to slow the bureau’s crackdown on banks, payday lenders and others.
Obama signed into law the America Invents Act to streamline the U.S. patent process. The idea was that inventors and entrepreneurs could turn their ideas into products more quickly and create inexpensive ways to resolve disputes.
Despite the law, major technology companies such as Apple, Google and Microsoft are locked in battles over the scope of their patents, particularly for smartphones and tablet computers. Tech companies and entrepreneurs say further patent reform is needed.
The president so far has resisted pressure to lower or temporarily waive corporate income taxes on the more than $1 trillion U.S. companies have piled up in overseas accounts from sales there. Many are tech companies that are keeping most of their cash offshore.
Some of the biggest hoards of foreign cash are held by Apple ($82.6 billion), Microsoft Corp. ($58 billion), Cisco ($42.5 billion) and Google ($29.1 billion). All favor a tax holiday so they could return the money to the United States without paying a huge bill to the government.Continued...