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By Fred Schulte, Center for Public Integrity medicarecard

The third of February 2011 was mostly a ho-hum day on Wall Street­ — but not for companies offering Medicare Advantage plans. Several of those firms hit the jackpot, tacking on billions of dollars in new value after federal officials signaled they might go easy on health plans suspected of overcharging the government.

The stocks took off after the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services advised the health plans in a memo that it was rethinking a move to ratchet up audits of the privately run Medicare plans. Some of these plans are run by publicly traded insurance companies whose fortunes can rise and fall significantly upon news of a change in Medicare policy.

Editor’s note: Nearly five years ago, on Sept. 15, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for Chapter 11, the largest bankruptcy in the nation’s history. The move set off a series of dramatic actions in Washington, D.C., and on Wall Street as bankers and regulators sought to avoid a shutdown of the global economy. The third in a three-part series on what has happened since the meltdown.

By Lauren Kyger, Alison Fitzgerald and John Dunbar, Center for Public Integrity bearstearns

On March 11, 2008, Christopher Cox, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said he was comfortable with the amount of capital that Bear Stearns and the other publicly traded Wall Street investment banks had on hand.

Days later, Bear was gone, becoming the first investment bank to disappear in 2008 under the watch of Cox’s SEC.