Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

January 18, 2011

HEALTH CARE REFORM'S UNLIKELY GOP ALLY.... Given the unanimous Republican opposition to health care reform, it continues to surprise me how much support former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has given to the Democratic effort.

During a press conference hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, for example, Frist said the Affordable Care Act is the "law of the land" -- and Republicans should accept that and, instead of repealing it, they should consider ways to build on it.

"It is not the bill that [Republicans] would have written," said the Tennessee Republican, "It is not the bill that I would have drafted. But it is the law of the land and it is the platform, the fundamental platform, upon which all future efforts to make that system better, for that patient, for that family, will be based. And that is a fact. I know the discussion of Washington is repeal and I'm sure we will come back to that discussion..."

"[The bill] has many strong elements," Frist added later. "And those elements, whatever happens, need to be preserved, need to be cuddled, need to be snuggled, need to be promoted and need to be implemented."

Remember, this isn't the first time Frist has offered support for the Democratic policy. He's said he would have voted for the reform bill in the Senate ("That's what leadership is all about," Frist said in October '09); he's defended the individual mandate; and he's even defended Dems using Senate reconciliation procedures that the GOP pretended to find outrageous.

After President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, Frist spoke at the American Hospital Association's annual meeting and said of the reform law, "I like the bill." The comments came on the heels of Frist saying in a separate speech, "From a justice, fairness and equity standpoint, I'm very proud of this administration and that America has addressed this."

In the larger context, I don't really expect remarks like these to have a meaningful impact on public attitudes. Bill Frist wasn't especially well known when he ran the Senate, and most Americans probably have no idea who he is now.

But I'm glad Frist is saying these things anyway. At a minimum, it offers Democrats a chance to note at least some bipartisan support for the law, and an opportunity to ask Republicans why, if the ACA is so outrageous and evil, their former Senate Majority Leader likes the law and wants them to drop their repeal crusade?

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (15)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

I didn't know that Frist was being a mensch about health care reform. The White House should be making a bigger deal about it-- if I didn't know, then nobody knows. Maybe (maybe) Frist's positive efforts here could make up for his role in the Schiavo disaster.

Posted by: MattF on January 18, 2011 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's amazing how reasonable Republicans can be... once they no longer have to please their base to get re-elected.

Posted by: atlliberal on January 18, 2011 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not forget that the Frist family founded HCA, the largest private hospital network in the country. I think they sold their controlling interest in the company a few years ago (making the former majority leader a skillionaire), but they certainly have ongoing ties and interests in the health care industry and their business stands to gain handsomely from 30 million more Americans having insurance and being able to use their facilities.

So he's not supporting this out of the goodness of his heart. It's more like the thickness of his wallet.

Posted by: jonas on January 18, 2011 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

So he's not supporting this out of the goodness of his heart. It's more like the thickness of his wallet.
Posted by: jonas on January 18, 2011 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK*********

Any one here surprised? Anyone?...Anyone?...Bueller?

Posted by: In what respect , Charlie? on January 18, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

And don't forget that Frist is a physician--a heart surgeon who conducts mission-of-mercy medical trips to Africa. His thoughts on health care reform would carry extra weight if the Republican Party were serious about policy.

Posted by: Karl Weber on January 18, 2011 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Would be interesting to see if there were a formal role that the administration could offer him. Implementation is a mighty task...

Posted by: Mark on January 18, 2011 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

I agree completely with "MattF".

Posted by: robert on January 18, 2011 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Frist is a dick, but he's also a doctor. And most sane doctors know that the health care insurance bullshit in this country desperately needed reform.

If only the rest of the GOP would catch up. Here in TX, we saw several doctors running for office screaming about "the GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER OF THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM"

maddening.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on January 18, 2011 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget Frist is a natural born liar , and conman extraordinaire . Either that or he is a dangerously out of control madman .
Never forget this was a man who cast aside principles as a first reaction to a weak and stupid partisan fight that any reasonable person would have dropped out of because of its complete and total asininity .
But not rich doctor Bill , he was a captive of a partisan fight he signed up for at the cost of innocent lives .

Posted by: FRP on January 18, 2011 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Frist is always about money first, everything else second. He must still own a chunk of Columbia/HCA, the for-profit hospital chain started by his father and older brother in Texas. I would Google it but I don't have the time today. Maybe the DOJ is after them again for Medicare fraud and he's trading political capital for more traditional capital. I wouldn't trust Frist as far as I could through one of his operating tables. The ACA was in many was a payout to the hospital and pharmaceutial industries. Even the new darling of the tea party, Dr. Rand Paul, was whining about proposed physician cuts in Medicare that were eventually restored, and this was before two other tea bagging hypocrites in the House were whining about not getting into their Federal Health Benefits Plans before 2/1. I'm old enough to remember doctors making house calls and now they own for-profit hospitals and sit in the Senate and the House.

Posted by: max on January 18, 2011 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

So what if his motives are less than pure? So were the motives of many Senate Dems who voted for it. The genius of the bill was that it expanded the social safety net while continuing to line the pockets of corporate America and medical professionals (at least temporarily; it does open the door to regulation that may hurt them in the long run). That's why it got passed: it's a Republican idea that serves Democratic principles. That's why the GOP once upon a time liked the individual mandate. Frist is being totally logical and self-interested. Good for him for saying it out loud, though. This bill was a huge compromise between right and left approaches, and it's nice to hear someone from the right acknowledge that.

Posted by: Charlie on January 18, 2011 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Prior to 1204 the Byzantines reduced their army and navy spending although not because of a budget deficit.  This allowed the fourth crusade, diverted from going to Egypt by the Venitian Doge, to conquer Constantinople with the result that the Byzantine Empire was run for 50+ years by Roman Catholic Crusaders, stripped of treasure, and left gutted to limp along until the Turks mercifully finished it off in the middle of 15th century.

While, I am not suggesting that we are in exactly the same positions as the Byzantines at the beginning of the 13th Century, I think cuts for the sake of cuts to prove a philosophical point is foolish.

This example also applies to AZ Governor Jan Brewer's proposal to remove 280,000 people from Arizona's version of Medicaid to help balance the State's budget.  Like the cuts which preceded the takeover of Constantinople in 1204, the Byzantines were blind to the consequences, these EPIC CUTS can only result in disaster for Arizona and ultimately the nation.

Specifically they have the immediate effect of denying people who have long term medical needs such as those with AIDS or diabetes medicine.  Long term effects will probably include an increase in infectious diseases as poor people do not get treated for their illnesses or resort to home remedies and partial treatments borrowed from friends and relatives.

See http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2011/01/15/20110115sat1-15.html

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on January 18, 2011 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Prior to 1204 the Byzantines reduced their army and navy spending although not because of a budget deficit.  This allowed the fourth crusade, diverted from going to Egypt by the Venitian Doge, to conquer Constantinople with the result that the Byzantine Empire was run for 50+ years by Roman Catholic Crusaders, stripped of treasure, and left gutted to limp along until the Turks mercifully finished it off in the middle of 15th century.

While, I am not suggesting that we are in exactly the same positions as the Byzantines at the beginning of the 13th Century, I think cuts for the sake of cuts to prove a philosophical point is foolish.

This example also applies to AZ Governor Jan Brewer's proposal to remove 280,000 people from Arizona's version of Medicaid to help balance the State's budget.  Like the cuts which preceded the takeover of Constantinople in 1204, the Byzantines were blind to the consequences, these EPIC CUTS can only result in disaster for Arizona and ultimately the nation.

Specifically they have the immediate effect of denying people who have long term medical needs such as those with AIDS or diabetes medicine.  Long term effects will probably include an increase in infectious diseases as poor people do not get treated for their illnesses or resort to home remedies and partial treatments borrowed from friends and relatives.

See http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2011/01/15/20110115sat1-15.html

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on January 18, 2011 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Frist must have contracted HIV from sweat and tears! That's why he's pro-healthcare all of a sudden!!
/snark

Alas, even the "best healthcare in the world" cannot heal an incurable douche like Bill Frist..

Posted by: Trollop on January 18, 2011 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

While Frist may be making remarks on health care that the Democrats could use, the Democrat media machine just seems to be too poorly run to take advantage of it. Whether or not you like the Republicans, they seem to be far more effective in getting their messaging out.

Posted by: Wellescent Wellness Forums on January 20, 2011 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly