Jost: HCR Bill “A Step In The Right Direction”

Brent Finnegan -- March 22nd, 2010

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past month, you know that last night the U.S. House of Representatives passed a monumental and controversial healthcare reform package. I emailed Harrisonburg resident and nationally-renown healthcare reform expert, Timothy Jost, to get his take on the historic bill.

He was pressed for time today, so these responses are short.

Is the bill that passed the house a good bill? A step in the right direction?

Jost: “It is a good bill and a step in the right direction. It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans, including 15 million persons earning less than 133% of the poverty level. It will also begin to lower health care costs and improve health care quality. It is not the bill I would have written, but it is a tremendous start in the right direction.”

It was said by many political analysts that the public option was a non-starter — that there was no way the bill would have passed with the public option. How important was that option, and what does/can this bill do to affect change without it?

Jost: “The public option would have been very helpful for bringing health care costs under control. It also would have increased choices available to Americans. But it was not essential to expanding coverage, which is the strongest feature of this bill.”

Will you continue to push for reforms until you see the changes you want? What are the next steps for reform advocates like yourself?

Jost: “I am going to dedicate the next years to helping assure that this bill is implemented properly and not repealed. IF we can get legislation adopted to improve it, I will work for that as well. But I think this was as far as we could get this year, and I don’t think the next Congress will be more progressive. It may take awhile to get improvements.”

Read a more detailed Q&A in the SD Union-Tribune.

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17 Responses to “Jost: HCR Bill “A Step In The Right Direction””

  1. Jost was on C-SPAN today addressing whether or not these challenges (such as the one AG Cuccinelli said he will file) will hold up in court.

  2. Renee says:

    I agree that there are some problems with the bill but that it’s a step in the right direction. I hope the republicans (especially the poor or sick) that benefit from these changes realize that democrats fought hard to get the bill passed.

    I’m also glad Obama put in the executive order about abortions – I think it’s an important clause, and I also think it was likely key in getting the votes needed. Well, that and the bill’s role in deficit reduction. Once those two things were announced, I’m frankly surprised there weren’t a few republicans, especially those from areas with a lot of low-income constituents, that would jump on board.

  3. Washington and Lee law professor Tim Jost calls the state opt-out laws “political theater” — an expression by the states that they don’t like the federal law, but an expression that has little, if any, legal effect.
    Morning Edition-NPR 3/23/10

  4. Dany Fleming says:

    It’s hard to imagine that any bill other than this one, with all its holes, could have passed. The Republicans controlled the White House for 8 years and Congress for most of that. Obviously, no insurance reform saw the light of day under their control. It also leaves quite a credibility gap when Republicans say “of course we’re for reform, just not this one.” Are they for the one they didn’t propose when they were in power?

    Obama and the Dems pushed this through (rammed, depending on who’s talking) in his first 1 1/2 years. This was the small window available. If it didn’t happen now, we’d be waiting another decade for another small window of opportunity.

    Whether folks like it or not, it was quite an effort to actually put something in place that provides the ability to be shaped and improved over time. Otherwise, the insurance companies become more emboldened to push back even harder next time.

  5. Dany,

    Oh, but did you not read the brilliant column in the DNR this morning? This bill is actually a big scam for the insurance companies, and they will be supporting Obama in 2012. Did you not know this? All of the apparent opposition they have been exhibiting for some time to the bill has been a big ruse and distraction. The DNR has the real truth.

    Of course, they also have a cartoon that apparently shows a majority of the US public shouting “NO!” to Obama signing the bill. Latest Gallup poll in fact shows more Americans supporting it than opposing it, but the DNR has never let facts get in the way of a good story. Of course the cartoon is accurate in displaying that the opponents have done a lot of shouting, some of it pretty insufferable, and most of it based on totally false nonsense.

  6. Just to hammer home how out to lunch the DNR is, even the Rasmussen poll, which has long been accused of tilting towards GOP views, shows 52% supporting the bill just passed. This is rather quickly going to turn into a big embarrassment for all those Republicans riding the “repeal it” horse. How many of them really want to repeal the forbidding of dumping people from insurance when they make a claim or refusing them insurance due to pre-existing conditions? Maybe this sort of tea bagger lunacy will still sell for awhile here in the Valley, at least the rural parts of it, but I shall not be surprised if we see some of our representatives backing off from this extreme position, which is going to look stupider and less popular as time goes by.

  7. Deb SF says:

    A strategy that works for me is to treat the DNR the same way I treat the Wall Street Journal; I get both every day, along with the WaPo. Ignore the editorial page, read the articles that give you news that would be hard to find elsewhere. Treat it for what it is, extract the value that’s there, and dump the rest in the recycling bin. Keeps the blood pressure down ;-)

  8. seth says:

    i didn’t read the editorial and i don’t know about it being a ‘scam’ for the insurance industry, but you have to admit that it is interesting that the entity that has been consistently painted as the bad guy stands to gain the most from the implementation of a health insurance mandate.

  9. seth,

    Oh, do you actually believe that the health insurance industry will gain big time? I most definitely did not say that I agreed with this thoroughly inane column. It is just another of the embarrassing ones that they regularly print.

  10. Tad says:

    It’s Wednesday, March 24 at 8pm and I am still waiting for the country to turn into a commie pinko thunderdoom of vice and debauchery. Why hasn’t Obama taken my guns away yet? Rev. Beck why have thou forsaken me?

  11. Lowell Fulk says:

    You go Tad. Day one of Armageddon according to Republicans. The world has not yet ended… Perhaps tomorrow.

  12. seth says:

    barkley,
    sometimes it’s about more than just whatever we believe (and i’m not sure how you took my comment as any sort of an implication of your agreement with the column. i really just meant to make the point that the folks at the top of the insurance industry really do stand to gain a lot, which is why i think it’s not completely ridiculous to suggest that they’ve been happy enough to bite the bullet as their companies have been tarred over the last 15 months or so). if you have a minute, i’m interested in your synthesis of this article:
    http://www.boston.com/business/healthcare/articles/2009/02/28/blue_cross_ceos_pay_rose_26/

  13. seth says:

    and please know that if you can find any pertinent information (numbers for harvard pilgrim/bc-bs ma/or tufts that demonstrate that their profits have not increased/they’ve not greatly outperformed other companies/sectors in these times of economic distress in the face of comparable reforms on a much smaller scale) i’d be really happy to see it. i know that you’re smarter than your sarcasm and reliance on polls of the uninformed suggest.

  14. Dany Fleming says:

    Seth – the insurance companies certainly stand to gain one way or another. From their business perspective, it’s more about under which scenario will they gain the most.

    Will they still gain by getting new insured customers (probably no more than a 3-5% gain for any single company), even while they’re forced to do away with some caps and have less flexibility in cutting “high risk” customers? Will they still gain while dealing with more competitive pressures? Sure they will.

    Would they have gained more by keeping their monopolistic practices in place, capping payouts and dropping high-risk folks when they pleased? Sure they would have.

    My guess is that they worked pretty hard to keep the scenario in which they made the most money – not the one that cut into that big margin.

  15. seth says:

    dany,
    i see what you’re saying and it strikes me as pretty good common sense thinking but i’m still interested in the numbers for the large insurers in ma over the past 5-10 years. i’ll try to do some digging this evening and let you know what i come up with.

  16. There are some forecasting that they may be net gainers, but there are cross-cutting effects noted here, and it is not clear. What I am certain will not be the case will be that they will be big backers of Obama, which was claimed in the column. No way.

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