Alexander hires Frist for health care advice

Former Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee returned to Capitol Hill this year for a two-week stint as a health care adviser to a former colleague, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, reports The Tennessean.

Frist, a surgeon and health care executive, was a special adviser on Alexander’s staff from Jan. 22 to Feb. 8. He was paid $1,001.09, according to Senate payroll records.

Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has made improving biomedical innovation a priority for the panel.

During Frist’s time on staff, Alexander and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., issued a report about inefficiencies in the process of getting new drugs, treatments and cures approved and on the market.

Frist helped design the “Innovation for Healthier Americans” initiative for Alexander, who has held four hearings on the subject and is expected to introduce legislation in the coming weeks.

Alexander asked Frist to work on the issue “because of Dr. Frist’s unique knowledge both of the United States Senate and health care policy,” according to Alexander spokesman Jim Jeffries.

Jeffries said Frist was paid in order to comply with Senate rules, and there is no plan for him to return to the staff.

While Frist was on the payroll, Alexander delivered a floor speech about the need for reforms at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.