Tag Archives: heresy

Bill Frist Commits ‘Republican Heresy’

Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist is described at the outset of a Politico story today as “a renegade, ‘Obamacare’-loving Republican who is in the mood for some real bipartisanship.
Yes, the same Bill Frist who as Senate majority leader led an army into the culture wars over Terri Schiavo and whose efforts in 2004 to uneast his then-rival, Minority Leader Tom Daschale, led to a nasty – and personal – Washington battle royal.
Now, Frist is pushing for a national conversation on end-of-life care and dismissing “caricatured” talk of death panels. He’s committing Republican heresy in endorsing elements of the loathed Affordable Health Care Act. He standing shoulder to shoulder with Daschale in search of a bipartisan way to tackle one of the thorniest around: how to get control of health care costs before they sink the economy.
The Frist-Daschale reconciliation, in particular, is a source of amazement to some longtime Washington observers.
…Daschale told POLITICO, “He’s been a very important partner and I would say has become a friend in spite of the fact that we’ve had a difficult history.”
…Frist, a heart and lung transplant surgeon who is now focused on research and policy, is working on a sweeping list of bipartisan health issues. A conservative who left Congress in 2007, before the tea party arrived, he is flexing his independence as a private citizen.
“I am supportive of exchanges and ‘Obamacare’ generally,” Frist told POLITICO. He noted the the plan’s core ideas of an individual mandate and state-based insurance exchanges have conservative roots.
And he isn’t particularly shy about it either, to the irritation of erstwhile colleagues and conservative activists who had been battling to repeal ‘Obamacare’ since it became law.
…And this month, after news broke that he and his wife of 31 years are divorcing, the man who crusaded for Schiavo’s life penned another of his semi-regular columns in The Week, this time calling for a national conversation on what we spend on end of life care and why. He also endorsed an expansion of palliative and hospice care.
Thirty percent of Medicare costs are spent on the last months of life, he wrote – more than $150 billion annually. And the system is chock full of incentives to use expensive technology on terminally ill patients who actually my prefer to die at home, not in ICU.
…With Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and congressional Republicans trash-talking the health care law at every turn of the campaign trail, Frist is off message, to say the least.
“Because it’s inconsistent with with the current campaign environment, it is probably frowned upon,” Frist said. “Do they call me and tell me? No. Because they’ve come to expect it.”