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By Jason Stipp | 07-21-2010 01:12 PM

Dodge & Cox Gets Beltway View of Health Reform

Dodge & Cox Stock manager Charles Pohl says the firm's on-the-ground research in D.C. gave them a good sense of how reform would ultimately shake out.

Jason Stipp: I'm glad that you brought up health care because the last question I wanted to ask you does have to do with regulation, and that is one of those things that – it's very hard to predict how regulation will shape up through that process in Washington. I know that you had mentioned in earlier interviews with us that health care had been an attractive area for you because there were some very negative implications that the investment community had put on those companies because of that uncertainty.

As you were digging into some of the details of the legislation, did anything surprise you on the upside or the downside, and how did you deal with and become comfortable with the uncertainty of a regulatory environment where it is almost impossible to predict what the end result will look like?

Charles Pohl: See, I would disagree with that last statement. We spent a lot of time in Washington over the last year, year and a half trying to understand what was going to happen with the health care bill. And we hired a number of consultants there, we met with various legislators and their staffs with a variety of consultants and people who were advising to different interested parties. We met with a variety of lobbyists. We even hired, for the first time in our history, a lobbying firm, not to lobby for anything in particular, but just to set up meetings for us with people who can help us to understand what was going on.

And as a result of all that research, I think we had quite a good idea of what was going to be in the final bill and how this was going to play out. I was just talking to our health care analyst earlier today, and the only real surprise to us was the election of Scott Brown. That turned what we thought was sort of a sure thing in terms of the bill into something that was, for a number of weeks after his election, it created some doubt as to whether there would be a bill. But then, ultimately, we got a bill that was not too dissimilar from what we were expecting.

Stipp: Very interesting. It sounds like a lot of on-the-ground research really gave you a good idea of that landscape and very interesting that the work you did there.

Charles, thanks so much for joining me today and for your insights.

Pohl: You're very welcome.

Stipp: For Morningstar, I am Jason Stipp. Thanks for watching.

 

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