Republican Senators become much less crazy when they leave office. Former Tennessee Senator and Majority Leader Bill Frist’s comments throughout the recent health care reform process perfectly illustrate that point. In late 2009, Frist injected himself into the debate by saying that while the bill was not perfect, he would vote for it if he were still in the Senate. Not only did Frist say he would vote for the bill, his criticisms where perfectly reasonable concerns also shared by progressives.
He argued that the bill “does not fundamentally change the incentives that providers now have to provide more care, rather than better care,” which it does not (thanks to the influence of special interests in the medical-industrial complex). Now Frist wants Congressional Republicans to stop trying to repeal health care reform and focus on building upon it instead.
During a press conference hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) Frist argued that:
It is not the bill that [Republicans] would have written. 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”
He went on to add:
[The bill] has many strong elements, 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.”
Frist’s comments come on the heels of a study released by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that as many as 129 million Americans have preexisting conditions. A successful Republican repeal of health care reform would put 50% of Americans under the age of 65 directly at the mercy of the private insurance industry again, something that some Republican voters are finally starting to acknowledge.
It remains to be seen whether Republicans take Frist’s sound and logical advice; my guess is they do not.