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Bill Frist: The Soft-Spoken Doctor with Ice in His Veins

Reported by Melanie - February 9, 2005

Senate Majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) was a guest today (February 9, 2005) on Your World w/Neil Cavuto. Frist was on talk about the "tort reform" bill which Frist said will pass the Senate tomorrow.

Naturally, Frist made the bill sound like it was crafted solely for the purpose of protecting "the people." He said it will bring "overall equity or fairness to the system," and prevent lawyers from "channeling" suits to friendly courts.

He said in many cases Plaintiffs receive "maybe just a little coupon" while lawyers "take the lion's share." He said they want to make sure "the people who get hurt get the money."

During their discussion Cavuto asked Frist whether or not, given that Frist is a medical doctor, he worries that it looks like he's just trying to "protect his own?" Surprise, surprise, Frist said "no."

Comment: There was a whole lot more Cavuto could have asked Frist, including the most important question which is why he doesn't recuse himself from all involvement with this bill, including voting on it. Having Frist talk about tort reform is akin to the fox guarding the hen house. Here's an excellent article about Frist from LAWeekly, which says, in part:

Frist was born rich, and got richer — thanks to massive criminal fraud by the family business. The basis of the Frist family fortune is HCA Inc. (Hospital Corporation of America), the largest for-profit hospital chain in the country, which was founded by Frist's father and brother. And, just as Karl Rove was engineering the scuttling of Trent Lott and the elevation of Frist, the Bush Justice Department suddenly ended a near-decadelong federal investigation into how HCA for years had defrauded Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare (the federal program that covers the military and their families), giving the greedy health-care behemoth's executives a sweetheart settlement that kept them out of the can.

The government's case was that HCA kept two sets of books and fraudulently overbilled the government. The deal meant that HCA agreed to pay the government $631 million for its lucrative scams — which, on top of previous fines, brought the total government penalties against the health-care conglomerate to a whopping $1.7 billion, the largest fraud settlement in history, breaking the old record set by Drexel Burnham.

The deal also meant that HCA can continue to participate in Medicare. And, as part of the Bushies' deal shutting down what Deputy Assistant FBI Director Thomas Kubic called "one of the FBI's highest-priority white-collar crime investigations," no criminal charges were brought against the top HCA execs who presided over the illegal bilking of federal programs designed to aid the poor — and that includes Senator Frist's brother, Thomas, HCA's former CEO (and current director), who's been described by Forbes magazine as "one of the richest men in America," with a personal fortune estimated at close to $2 billion.

What did HCA do? It inflated its expenses and billed the government for the overrun; it billed the government for services ineligible for reimbursement (like advertising and marketing costs). HCA violated both law and medical ethics when, as Forbes put it, "the company increased Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating. It also granted doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors' referring patients to HCA. In addition, it gave doctors ‘loans' that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture — and free drugs from hospital pharmacies."

It gives me chills to think that a guy like Frist is writing our "tort reform" legislation, which translates into protection for big hospitals, big business, and big insurance companies. The last group it helps is "the people." Frist may have a soft spoken, gentle demeanor but he's a crook in sheep's clothing and if we didn't have a government-run media in this country everyone would know it and they'd have chills too.

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