Frist: Don't repeal health care bill
January 18th, 2011
05:35 PM ET
3 years ago

Frist: Don't repeal health care bill

Washington (CNN) - A top Republican has come out against efforts by his party to repeal President Obama's health care reform bill currently underway in the House.

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, said at a press conference Tuesday at the Bipartisan Policy Center - an organization he chairs with former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, among others - that the law should stand, according to The Huffington Post.

"It is not the bill that [Republicans] would have written," he said. "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."

He added: "[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. But how do you do it? How do you do a lot of what is in this law?"

In October, Frist told Time magazine's Karen Tumulty that he "would end up voting for it," he said. "As leader, I would take heat for it. ... That's what leadership is all about."

His comments come in stark contrast to what congressional Republicans are now pushing - a repeal of the law, which House Speaker John Boehner has deemed "a jobs killer." The push is nearly impossible given the Democratic majority in the Senate and a certain veto from the president.

Frist, a surgeon who retired from Congress in 2007, knows first hand about the health care system - though other doctors-turned-lawmakers in Congress such as Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma have been staunchly opposed to the law.


Filed under: Bill Frist • Health care
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Laurs1

    Of course there are "strong" elements in the bill. The problem is that there are more bad elements than good ones. And how you achieve these "strong" elements is the kicker. There is no reason in the world for a bill such as this to have so many non-healthcare-related parts in it. And there is no reason for such a bill to be so complex. It is probably worse than the IRS in that regard. I would love for the GOP to be able to refine this monstrosity down to some reasonable assists for people who need the assistance - without all the threats to patients, companies, and medical people.

    January 18, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  2. I am a voter

    This is more evidence that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans. They are in cahoots with each other to expand the power and scope of the Federal Government. He just lost his next election.

    January 18, 2011 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. rob

    As Frist and CNN know, this bill will not be repealed by a vote in the House, they know the process. The Republicans will bring many votes to replace it piecemeal and replace it with common sense reform. They will be joined by commen sense Dems and even Dems who don't have any sense beyond getting re-eletcted in 2012.

    Get ready everyone the Dems will pull all the stops to attack the Republicans with smears, lies and character assasinations as the debate goes on without a peep from the major liberal media. They only believe in "Civil Discourse" for the Republicans.

    January 18, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  4. Jack in Florida

    Finally some common sense from a member of the party of NO. Sure, it's not a perfect bill, but it is a step in the right direction. Let's try to "tweek" it so it makes sense for the majority of our citizens!!

    January 18, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  5. ind3p3nd3nt

    One of the basics of the health care reform is forming larger pools of insured. It's basic economics 101, the more people paying into an insurance plan, the cheaper overall costs are for everyone.

    If you are in the insurance industry, here's your heads up, be ready to see the industry trend toward the non-for-profit side of business.

    January 18, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  6. galfridus73

    @BeanerECMO: Gonna vote Frist out, huh? Go for it. I would really enjoy watching you guys try to vote a RETIRED senator from office.

    @Protect and Defend Freedom of Speech in the USA: You are correct – the mandate will fail. The rest of the bill will end up standing... or are you going to tell the parents of 24-year-olds struggling to find a job that they can't keep the kid on their health insurance? Are you going to tell the seniors they're going back to the Medicare prescription loophole that saw their costs rise? Are you going to tell those who would have been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions that they will, once again, be denied coverage? Do you even understand what you're talking about, or do you just memorize the talking points?

    January 18, 2011 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  7. rls

    ... EVERYBODY, at one time or another, will need health care ... is there anyone in this country who has NOT ever been to a doctor or dentist or emergency room? ... if everyone will need health care, then everyone should be in the insurance pool and everyone should be contributing to it ...

    January 18, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  8. TommyTT

    ProtectAndDefend, you already have to buy auto insurance if you drive an automobile, because otherwise if things go wrong your problem costs other taxpayers a great deal of money. Now you have to buy health insurance if you drive a body, for exactly the same reason. So much for your "unconstitutional" nonsense.

    January 18, 2011 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  9. Tony in Maine

    The Tea Party geniuses are going to vote an ex Senator out of office. Say what?

    I'd like to see the Affordable Health Care Act replaced too – by universal single payer government administered health care access modeled on the Canadian plan. It would be less expensive, fairer and still allow those who want their own doctor to buy private insurance to pay for a suite at the hospital of their choice. The premiums currently paid by individuals and employers would disappear and with cost controls preventing absurd gouging by providers, taxes to pay for the new insurance would not equal the premiums that went away.

    Would the Tea Party accept a deal – the nation gets health care like the rest of the industrialized world and you get to play guns by replacing our military on such playgrounds as Afghanistan. You'll even get nice shiny new weapons and tons of ammunition for free.

    January 18, 2011 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  10. Thomas

    BeanerECMO, you are brilliant. Did you read any of the article or is it too much for your pea brain to handle?!? Frist retired in 2007 Einstein.

    January 18, 2011 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  11. Gil

    I had to read this story twice to see if it were true. A republican who thinks about helping the American public rather than the Insurance Business? I thought that Boehner (Boner) had all the republicans walking in lock step-sort of like Germany in WW!!?

    January 18, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  12. Robert

    Jason, I read your post with great care and could not disagree with you more. Do you think that all people who work in mills, resturants, and low paying jobs didn't want to go to college? Don't you think that people who work in these jobs deserve healthcare? Just think if everyone was a professional such as your brother who would do the lower paying jobs and would there even be enough jobs of that higher caliber to sustain everyone. I don't believe for a moment that the poor, the low wage earners and the unemployed want something for nothing. The american work ethic is alive and well, there is nothing wrong with our work ethic people just don't want to be slaves and work for nothing as it sounds like you would have them do. People would like to earn a livable wage with healthcare, is that a sin in your eyes? If you want to take a poke at someone how about taking a shot at the people who invest for a living, they don't produce a dam thing other than higher prices for the rest of us. Sounds like you need a dose of humility, get off your high horse, not everyone has had opportunities to attend college as you would like us to believe. Some come from broken homes where kids don't have to proper upbringing, where life through no fault of their own has been cruel and tuff. You sir should sit down and walk in peoples shoes who you consider beggers.

    PS dude you pay for their healthcare already if you have insurance, just check out prescription prices with and without healthcare, there's a big difference, same with people who use emergency rooms for their care your paying already only you aren't realizing or seeing it.

    January 18, 2011 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  13. dagger2

    Dear Republicans: stop the political circus pretending to repeal a law that will never be repealed and start creating jobs.

    January 18, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    Jason says his brother is a doctor who says this bill will make it hard for him to make a living. That's funny, because every doctor I've talked to has said we are in desperate need for health care reform, and that this bill is a great step in the right direction.

    Jason also says, "The very sad fact is that those of us who make just enough to get by, can't afford to support those who make even less than we do."

    Who do you think is paying for all the uninsured and under-insured, Einstein?

    You pay either way. Better to pay for preventive care, so people are healthier and more productive contributors to our economy than to pay for emergency care that costs our nation BILLIONS every year!

    January 18, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  15. SA in OO

    The Republican leadership would do well to head this advice. Repealing it is a purely political gesture. The fact that so many people have bought into this line is also entirely political, since most don't even know what all is in the plan yet.

    READ IT, section by section, line by line. If you have pragmatic concerns let's talk about them. If you have philosophical concerns then lets talk about those too, but in plain english so the public can decide.

    Do you believe heath care is not a right but a privilege for those who can afford it – THAN SAY THAT.
    If you really do believe it will hurt the economy, then show why the governments numbers are wrong – BUT DO THE MATH

    The lesson in all of this is that it is a whole lot easier to whip up fears and emotions against CHANGE than to do the hard work of educating the public about what the new healthcare plan is actually doing.

    Do people think for a minute that the Republicans have any better ideas, or could actually put a comprehensive national heath care plan together – Seriously. The Republicans have good reasons for wanting to kill this plan, but few of them have anything to do with providing better health care for all americans – not just those who can afford and already have healthcare.

    January 18, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  16. LIB

    @jason, your whole concept is wrong. You don't know what you are talking about. When I was in high school, we were not even told about student loans, grants etc to go to college. Many blacks went on to work after high school because we could not afford not to. You sound just like the biased ignorant who want to believe all the negatives without even knowing the truth. Low income people usually work HARDER than those who are making more money but get paid less. My mom worked two jobs to take care of us for years and is now living on a very low income. She had nothing to save after her divorce. Stop pointing blame. Also if the only reason that people are becoming doctors for high pay, then they are hypocrits. Try being the type of doctors who went to Haiti or other countries and gave of their time and skills for free. It is tiring to continue hearing people like you whining without even knowing what they are talking about. Schools in low income areas are usually lacking in so many things that most of our youth just give up. Why not try giving sometime. You'd be surprised at how well you can live on "basic" things. We do.

    January 18, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    Protect and Defend Freedom of Speech in the USA: So I take it you don't carry car insurance because it's something that the government "forces" you to do?

    Regarding our country's ability to afford it: Do you support the two wars Bush started and kept off the books? Bush also cut taxes during wartime – unprecedented in our nation's history – taking the Clinton surplus and turning it into a deficit.

    Did you get all in a lather about that?

    Lastly, did you know that the average yearly salary of a health insurance company CEO is $14 MILLION? Guess who's paying for that? Here's a hint: Every person and every business who's seen their health care costs go up about 10% a year for the last several years.

    Introducing a little competition into the mix will SAVE our country money.

    January 18, 2011 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  18. regertz

    Jason, may you never need the help of your neighbor given your rancid attitude toward your fellow citizens. God, in one breath you whine that you're having trouble and in the next you insist everyone else wants help. Lets hope you find your insurer kicking you off your plan for a pre-existing heart condition as you and your adult kids lose jobs and find even you have a little trouble coughing up 100,000+ a pop to pay your brother's padded bill. Of course it will be those bleeding hearts you claim to despise you or at least your family will be saved by, along with the neignbors you sneer at. By the way serf, since your God judges people by their wallet size, kneel in the mud as I pass.

    January 18, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  19. SA in OO

    I disagree with Jason (above) but at least he's honest. He's OK with letting people die because they can't afford health care.

    ARE THE REST OF YOU !

    January 18, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  20. LIB

    I commend Mr.Frist. It is time someone supports atleast some type of effort to help ALL people. The only ones complaining about the Health care bill are those who feel they deserve more entitlement as if they are the only taxpayers. It is time to move on to JOBs! Many people are seeing that the health care bill is better than nothing. It is a start. Everything can be improved on. Let's move on. This is just another childish vendetta against the president. The Republicans had their chance to work together with the health care plan. How anybody can support such a group of people who have proven to be selfish and un American is beyond me.

    January 18, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  21. Dorkus Maximus

    I'm thinking Frist won't be a guest on the Sean Hannity show to repeat these remarks. Nor on Fox News Sunday, or Bill O'Reily or Rush Limbaugh....

    January 18, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  22. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Go for it Frist. And remember, the Titanic is not sinking! Like the 14 Trillion Dollar Debt? Like it that you have no job. A billion here, a billion ther and pretty soon we are talking real money. But pretty soon that 14 trillion will sound like chicken feed. You voted for this mess, now live with it.

    January 18, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  23. Paul

    Protect and defend freedom of speech in the USA.... until it applies to Islam and where they worship, right?
    Auto insurance is another injustice against the constitution. I'll write my congressmen.

    January 18, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  24. Sherri W.W.#1~ILLinois

    I still say~there is only one way to shut these people up,who think they dont want healthcare,and dont want us to have any! Very simple~everybody who does not want it needs to sign a waiver that they will NOT go to any hospital in the U.S. for treatment.Of course ,if they are injured in an accident and RECEIVE some treatment,THEN they are to pay it in full THEMSELVES,no matter if they have to sell everything to do it.Harsh~you bet~because these folks are getting by on a FREE RIDE from you and me! We NEED these Healthcare Reforms AND we need BOEHNER AND THE TEAPUBLICANS TO GET BUSY ON THOSE *JOBS*THEY FORGOT ABOUT ALREADY! This is NONSENSE!

    January 18, 2011 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  25. Patient, NJ

    The people who are opposing the repeal, do not have a clue what the healthcare reform is about.They are blindly following the words/fraud statistics put out my vested groups. It is sad see the people, who are opposing the reform are the ones who are most likely to get benefit of the reform.! Hats off to Insurance companies for turning the very people they are plundering to work for them!!!

    If I were running the healthcare insurance companies , I would gladly approve for repeal. Why would I want to provide insurance for the sick, pre-existing condition patients? I will take young ones, drop them whenever I want, and increase the premium whenever I feel like!! And, declare profit and dividends year after year!!!

    Think for a second and understand the reform, before you oppose/support any reform. I wish, the instead of repeal, congress had worked to strengthen it, to prevent abuse by insurance companies.

    January 18, 2011 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
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