Frist: Don't repeal health care bill
January 18th, 2011
05:35 PM ET
11 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. GI Joe

    They're wasting enough money on Huck's propaganda commercials to be able to pay for health care for EVERYONE FOR YEARS.

    January 18, 2011 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  2. Joyce

    Maybe doctors won't make as much but they will be sharing the wealth with those who need it. Besides, doctors will continue to make big money!

    January 18, 2011 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  3. kayla

    the repugs will repeal the health care since they have insurance that we the people pay for. why don't they all refuse their health insurance if they care so much about the deficit that started with them.

    January 18, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. Marcus

    Protect and Defend Freedom of Speech in the USA – First, between the CBO saying that the country will save money with the ACA (and explaining with all due details how it will happen) and the GOP (and their media outlet the FAUX News) saying that the ACA will 'destroy' the economy (or at least cost a lot of money) WITHOUT explaining with all due details how it will happen you chose to stay with the GOP.
    Hello minority, we from the majority like that stuff called 'facts'!!!

    January 18, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  5. Mike in FL

    I just got a letter from my ($10,000 deductible policy) insurance company that stated the 1M lifetime cap on my benefit is removed. That is a significant change and a result of the recent legislation. We know how quickly a serious illness reach that sum over a few years We have to control costs and help each other. That is what insurance was designed to do in the first place.

    January 18, 2011 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  6. T'sah from Virginia

    @BeanerECMO- Ah, he's already LONG GONE – shows how much you READ and/or really know what's going on in politics!!!

    The RepubliCAN'Ts have no chance to REPEAL – Case Closed!! So what's the NEXT STEP – make it better.................PERIOD!! But that is NOT going to happen. The RepubliCAN'Ts REALY think the last election was all about them..............ALONE............. and it's NOT!!!

    This will turn around slowly but surely and eventually the RepubliCAN'T's REPEAL will be the Democrat's STEAL in the election of 2012!! Yes We Can!!

    January 18, 2011 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  7. Tammy Terrell

    Bill, you are retired now! You made your millions and now live quite well. We who are still paying the bills think this healthcare bill is an awful piece of legislation. Bad bills should be repealed. These same Democrats gave us a trillion dollar a year deficit. Should we just accept that as well and not try to reduce our debts? You are meddling in issues that don't concern you. Just shut up. I can't believe I voted for you. It was you or Jim Sasser so I took the lesser of two evils.

    January 18, 2011 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  8. GOP Taliban Victim

    Hmmm...not a likely supporter. Since he is no longer a "Partisan" and formerly doctor...he probably saw the light.

    January 18, 2011 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  9. Vicki

    I have worked in Healthcare for over 15 years, physician coding & billing to be exact & I have seen it all. There is a law that guarantees a person treatment if they show up in an ER regardless of their ability to pay. If the patient can't pay, the hospital & physician will end up eating the cost of treating that patient which in turn drives up the cost for those that have inurance or pay out of pocket. What this law does is level the playing field; it requires EVERYONE to be responsible & do their part within their means. It requires the medical community to provide the needed care with quality controls in place; it requires the insurance companies to provide coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions and stops them from capping your coverage and it requires the patient to be responsible and have health insurance in some form that they can afford. Bottom line is without that requirement, it won't work. You can't require healthcare providers to provide care in ERs to anyone regardless of their ability to pay and require insurance companies to cover anyone that can pay a premium but not require the patient to be responsible and pay into the system that guarantees them this care. I live in Pennsylvania & by law I have to carry Auto insurance if I want to drive; what's the difference? The auto insurance industry is very competitive & you can get a great deal by shopping around; I'm hoping this new law inspires the same competition in health insurance companies in the future. Finally, I'm just glad the Obama administration had the guts to finally do something. Is it perfect? No, but it's a hell of a start and we can always make improvements as times change.

    January 18, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  10. stephan

    Instead of constantly whining about the health bill, I appeal to all caring Republicans to please suggest a better alternative (FYI: going back to the old status quo is obviously out of the question). So, what do you have? Lets hear it as loud as possible.

    January 18, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  11. Monster Zero

    Yup, it would cost too much valuable time and money to repeal this monstrosity, I am leaning toward Krauthamer's predictions and synopsis of this monumental piece of crap. Allow America to get a good snoot full of Gubmnt run healthscare, let the Dem's relish it, live it, pay for it, it will fail on its own accord all at their own accord.

    January 18, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  12. Dawn Ada, Ohio

    I just wonder how many other Republicans, once they are no longer beholden to the insurance companies because of lobbyists, would actually say the same exact thing. Sure there are some out there that wouldn't, but my guess is there would be quite a few. It is amazing how much power Corporate America has over our Country and how common, everyday citizens can't see that they are being bamboozled by those against their best interests all for the all mighty $$$.

    January 18, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  13. Jon

    Huh. First time I heard the verb "snuggled" used in a political speech. That said, props to the guy.

    January 18, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  14. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    this is fun when so called GOPers come out and BLAST somebody just because he doesn't follower their base. And the person could be right as rain.

    January 18, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  15. ICanRead

    Wow. The GOP has done a masterful job spreading misinformation about this bill. Not a single comment on here opposing it is accurate in the smallest degree. It's truly jaw-dropping what people will believe. I particularly like the comment that says that the bill "will make it very hard for doctors to make a living." Um, hon? The bill's been law for months. If it's not doing it now, it's not doing it.

    January 18, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  16. miss tess

    Hey Frist – did you read the bill? Did you read all of it?
    If you did you can tell us why OBAMA wants the info on each
    and every citizen as to his complete bank account.
    Yep – he wants to know how much you have in savings.
    Yep- he wants to know what you have in checking acct.
    Yep- he wants to know what you have in stocks and bonds....
    Why heck! He wants to kow all about your banking and savings.

    Now Mr. Frist – can you tell the American Public what OBAMA
    intends to do with this information?
    Remember he is not going to be President for that long – so what
    will he do with the information.
    This is right up there with the outstanding number of IRS investigators
    he intends to hire. Don't you think that is scarey?

    January 18, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  17. annie s

    Thank you for an intelligent comment from a Republican on the Healthcare bill. No, the bill is not perfect, but first and foremost, it saves lives. Instead of repealing it, it needs to be strengthened in some areas and tweaked in others. Build on it, don't destroy it and set us back another fifty years,.

    January 18, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  18. John

    Well, this is a nice surprise from Frist. It shows the difference between being a Republican in office, where you have to toe the party line, and being a Republican out of office, where you can think about what is actually best for the country.

    January 18, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  19. Ray F., Charlotte, NC

    Unbelievable, a Republican with brains and guts. Who would have thought that was possible?

    January 18, 2011 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  20. Four and The Door

    His arguments are very weak and do not address the fundamental flaws of the Health Insurance Bureaucracy Act. Like how is it really paid for. Does anyone really believe that congress will find an extra $2.7 trillion in savings from Medicare to help start paying for this monster? Really?

    January 18, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  21. Tired of the nonsense

    Wait a minute! Call Ripley's! Here's a republican with a brain who cares about Americans! I thought they were extinct or a myth, but there's one out there.

    January 18, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  22. dallas007

    A few responses here reminds why I do not take the Tea Party very seriously. First is a republican and a surgeon, you know a doctor, hand these people still will not listen. However, they will listen to a high school drop out and a prescription drug addict's advice on the subject: wow!

    January 18, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  23. Sheila Kind

    Jason, the American way is to choose a lifestyle and hopefully a job that will bring happiness and fulfillment to the individual. Not to be a drone and do something you don't or can't do just so you can make enough money to get by. Your brother, the doctor, probably makes a helluva lot more money than many folks do. He has more choices, including finding another career, if he isn't satisfied with making 100K or more. The real problem is that we choose in this country to heavily tax the middle and lower classes in contrast to the wealthiest Americans - who now have been given a nice tax break (moreso than most of us) - to what... provide more jobs - doubtful since trickle down economics has been proven not to work and has been denounced even by the Reagan man who put it in place. We have a class system that grows stronger all the time, thanks to the Repubs and some Dems, in which 1% of Americans hold 90+percent of the wealth in the country. The rest of us are lucky to get by and if we don't have health insurance, die like rats in the street due to inability to obtain decent care. Is that really what we want in this country? Is that really all we are about here? If so, then things will just become even more dire. Frist is right - work with what we have and try to make it better - don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Has that ever been a positive move? Think about it.

    January 18, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  24. Sheila Kind

    Also, college is a choice for some but an impossibility for many others. If you think otherwise, you have been sadly misinformed.

    January 18, 2011 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  25. cassie

    Anyone who plans to cuddle and snuggle with a bill has to be somewhat brain furry.

    January 18, 2011 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
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