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Thread: Bill Frist

  1. #1
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    Mar 2002

    Bill Frist

    Does anyone know Dr. Frist's stand on ESC research? He has been portrayed as a very caring, giving, wealthy, Princeton, HMS, Mass Gen grad who is one of the top 10 conservative Republicans.
    Any thoughts?

  2. #2

    Presidents Puppet

    He is very strongly against stem cell research and has been influential on changing the views of others as well.

    "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.
    It's already tomorrow in Australia!"----- Charles Schultz

  3. #3
    Senator Frist has quite a complex but thoughtful approach towards stem cells. His views and their political implications have been summarized by the following articles:

    Because Senator Frist is a physician, he has been a formidable debater on the subject of embryonic stem cells. While he initially came out strongly in support of stem cell research, he strongly supported the decision made by President Bush ( ) , he has come out against both reproductive and therapeutic cloning ( ) , and he has strongly supported the bill proposed by Brownback, et al. ( )

    [This message was edited by Wise Young on Dec 23, 2002 at 04:26 AM.]

  4. #4
    I think it's very scary, as he is against stem cells, from what I heard him say at the Senate hearings, he doesn't truly grasp the concept, and lastly, there are a lot of people who look to his opinion just because he carries those initials "MD" after his name.

    Tough times don't last - tough people do.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Montreal,Province of Quebec, CANADA

    Frist Expected to Focus Senate on Health Issues

    Frist Expected to Focus Senate on Health Issues
    2 hours, 57 minutes ago Add Health - Reuters to My Yahoo!

    By Todd Zwillich

    WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) - Many Washington observers expect the ascension of Sen. Bill Frist, the Tennessee Republican and former heart surgeon, to replace Trent Lott as Senate Majority Leader to be the best chance in recent memory to pass key health legislation that for years has eluded Congress.

    Frist was elected to the post on Monday.

    When President Bush (news - web sites) needed a friend to lobby the US Senate in August 2001 for his controversial policy on human stem cell research, he turned to Frist. Later, when stunned lawmakers and staffers frantically searched for reassurance in the aftermath of last fall's anthrax attacks on Capitol Hill, they too turned to Frist.

    And when Bush moved to back a plan to reform the Medicare program and cover seniors' prescription drugs, it was Bill Frist's bill approach he endorsed.

    Indeed, as most lawmakers found, it became nearly impossible to act on Medicare, bioterrorism, HIV (news - web sites)/AIDS (news - web sites) or any other healthcare issue without asking a key question: What does Bill Frist think?

    Even liberal groups, while highly critical of Republican proposals, said they expect Frist's expertise on health issues, his experience as a physician and his close relationship with the president to finally pay dividends for their issues.

    "Frist obviously is an expert in this field. He has indicated all along that this was a top priority for him," said Ron Pollack, president of the consumer healthcare group Families USA.

    Pollack and others said they expect the most progress on two key issues: reforms to the Medicare insurance program for senior citizens and help for the 42 million Americans who lack health insurance.

    Frist, who frequently advised the president on a range of health issues, often stressed the level of agreement between himself and Bush. Both support allowing private insurance companies to administer more of the federal Medicare program, including any new prescription drug benefit.

    Both men support federal tax breaks as a way to help more people afford private insurance coverage. Frist has sponsored legislation with moderate Democrats on both issues, though few of his proposals have gained Senate approval.

    Still, many Democrats criticize the tax break plan because it is unlikely to provide families with enough money to buy private insurance policies.

    More broadly, both Frist and Bush support banning human cloning while allowing limited research on stem cells derived from human embryos. Both also strongly support a federal law limiting doctors' malpractice liability as a way to control health care costs.

    "Trying to get at some difference between Frist and the administration is hard to imagine," said Robert Helms, a resident scholar and health economist at the American Enterprise Institute.

    Frist became known in his first eight years as a senator for his ability to articulate complicated health issues in a way that lay persons--lawmakers and voters alike--can understand.

    He comes to the Majority Leader post at a time when Republicans in both Congress and the White House are looking to prioritize health issues. Many GOP lawmakers campaigned with promises to enact a Medicare drug benefit and to find help for uninsured voters.

    Meanwhile, the White House is looking for accomplishments on popular health care issues before the start of the 2004 presidential election cycle next year. It is here where Frist's reputation as a trusted physician and a supporter of Bush's "compassionate conservative" agenda could be most effective, observers said.

    "I think it's going to be hard for Sen. Daschle to paint him as not wanting to do the right thing for Medicare beneficiaries," said Mary Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a health industry group.

    "He can help put a little compassion in the conservatism, frankly," said Jeff Lemieux, a senior economist at the Progressive Policy Institute.

    But while most observers expect Frist to bring a sharper focus to health issues in the Senate, few believe he will be able to remain an effective champion on those issues while performing the Majority Leader's job of hammering out legislative details.

    "Will he be able to be the doctor on health care at the same time as he's counting votes? He's been a good spokesman for White House positions, now the question is how to do the legislative maneuvering to get them into law," said Diane Rowland, vice president of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

    Still, most are confident that Frist's identification with medical issues combined with Republican control of all three federal government branches will result in major health care laws this year.

    "I think this is the year when we will see some things happen," said Grealy. "If we wait until next year, we'll be getting into full-bore presidential politics."

  6. #6
    Senator Frist will indeed be a very powerful voice on the Hill. Even before he became Majority Leader in the Senate, on matters of health care and research, he had achieved a Pope-like stature. There are no Senators who can match him in knowledge or record. As amply demonstrated in the link below where there was a side-by-side interview with Arlen Spector (who is an avid stem cell research supporter), he has the ability to dominate the stem cell debate in a way that transcends the normal cliche driven political debate. On the other hand, Senator Frist is not a simple horn that conservatives can blow. He was not merely a physician but he apparently introduced pediatric cardiac transplants to the South when he was at Tulane University. I don't know what his attitude is towards spinal cord injury but here are:

    1. Some of his previous remarks on the subject of ADA

    2. Senator Frist introduced legislation called "Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act" to support a more rational approach to encouraging voluntary reporting and government analysis of medical errors

    3. Senator Frist can be appealed to as a doctor. For example, this is what Gerry Fischbach did in his March testimony to the US Senate Appropriations Committee on LHHSER

    4. His stem cell policy is thoughtful and rational approach to stem cells. While I do not agree with him on all issues, his position is clear. Senator Frist is strongly against the creation of human embryos solely for research and wants to strengthen and codify the ban on federal funding for the derivation of stem cells, as well as prohibit cloning to prevent creation and exploitation of embryos for research purposes. On the other hand, he wants to increase federal funding of adult stem cell research and allow federal funding of research using only those embryonic stem cells derived from blastocyts from in vitro fertilization clinics and that would otherwise be discarded. I am willing to live with that, if this is what the American people wants.

    5. Senator Frist has long been an advocate of greater consumer input into NIH priorities. http://www.the-scientist.library.upe...p1_980330.html He has assembled a staff that is very knowledgeable on health care issues, has travelled and extensively spoken out on these areas, and regards health care as his primary issue

    6. Senator Frist is a supporter of trauma care systems. For example, in 1998, he sponsored the Trauma Systems Planning and Development Act. The bill (S.1754) provides funds to help states plan, develop, and implement trauma care systems.

    7. Senator Frist is a co-sponsor of the bioterrorism bill alongside Senator Kennedy
    The legislation authorizes $1.6 billion for state grants, with $520 million set aside for hospital preparedness. It also creates a new program of partnerships between hospitals and local governments and establishes grants to health professions schools to relieve shortages of health professionals. The $4.6 billion bill also devotes funds to the vaccine stockpile, improves food and water safety, and increases oversight of the handling of biological agents and toxins. Go to
    8. His support of the Brownback-Landrieu bill was disappointing but his reasons for doing so were reasonable
    "At this point in the evolution of this new science, I believe there is no justification for the purposeful creation and destruction of human embryos in order to experiment with them, especially when the promise and success of stem cell research does not depend on the experimental research cloning technique," Frist said, noting, "Regardless of our religious background, most of us are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of creating cloned human embryos, doing an experiment on them, and destroying the human embryo."
    Although he supported the Brownback-Landrieu bill, he has voiced concern over some provisions of the bill, including the bill's prohibition of any products derived from a cloned embryo from overseas. On that issue, he said "If there is a cure for a patient that has multiple sclerosis, and it's available to the world, as a physician my ethical obligation is to do what's best for the patient," I believe that Senator Frist is seeking to find a solution to the problem, and has the heart and the political skill to do so.

    So, we should wait to see what develops.


    [This message was edited by Wise Young on Dec 24, 2002 at 08:03 AM.]

  7. #7
    Senior Member mk99's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    toronto, canada

    still don't understand

    "On the other hand, he wants to increase federal funding of adult stem cell research and allow federal funding of research using only those embryonic stem cells derived from blastocyts from in vitro fertilization clinics and that would otherwise be discarded."

    I don't understand. If I am reading this correctly, does this mean he is in favour of increasing the so-called 78 lines that are eligible for NIH funding?

    Kudos on increasing ASC funding!

  8. #8
    Senior Member mk99's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    toronto, canada


    Dr. Young what is your take on Frist's position on increasing the so called 78 cell lines currently eligible for NIH funding?

  9. #9
    MKowalski, I am uncertain of Frist's position on this issue. I know that before President Bush decided to allow NIH funding of research on stem cell lines derived before August 2001, Senator Frist was an advocate of the NIH proposal of producing new lines under strict federal guidelines. However, he probably played a role in convincing President Bush to approve some funding and therefore strongly praised the decision when President Bush announced it. I suspect that Frist cannot go back and quibble that the 74 lines are not enough.

    I was very disappointed when Senator Frist supported the Brownback bill which attempted to criminalize somatic nuclear transfer. I think that he knows that the bill is bad and unenforcible. I don't know why he did not support the Feinstein bill which is modelled after the British bill which banned the implantation of non-fertilized eggs into a woman's uterus. This effectively prevented reproductive cloning.

    Senator First has expressed some reservations about aspects of the Brownback bill, particularly the outlawing of embryonic stem cell product that is developed in other countries. I suspect that if strong evidence supports the beneficial effects of embryonic stem cells, he will support further research on the subject. Likewise, I believe that he will strongly support putting more funding into adult stem cell research.


  10. #10
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Montreal,Province of Quebec, CANADA

    Frist May Put Spotlight on U.S. Health-Care Debates

    Frist May Put Spotlight on U.S. Health-Care Debates
    2 hours, 25 minutes ago Add Health - Reuters to My Yahoo!

    By Joanne Kenen

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Even before the Senate's sole physician became its top leader, rising health care costs and soaring numbers of uninsured Americans were certain to put health care high on the national policy agenda this year.

    Now, with Tennessee Republican Dr. Bill Frist, a heart-lung transplant surgeon, becoming Senate majority leader, expectations are high that health care will be a priority.

    "His background, understanding and expertise will help elevate health care on a national scale," predicted Dan Leonard, an official with the Association of American Health Plans, which represents the managed care industry.

    Though acclaimed as both a surgeon and political tactician, Frist is unproven as a Senate leader and no one can be sure of his style or success in a post that requires a lot of cajoling, cheerleading and horse trading. But since his student days, Frist has had a broad interest trying to ensure that people have access to affordable care.

    "Health care has always been a priority of Sen. Frist since joining the Senate and certainly will continue to be so in his role as majority leader," a Frist spokesman said. "He will be working with his colleagues on Medicare modernization, prescription drug coverage, addressing the increasing numbers of uninsured Americans, making health care more affordable and addressing the global AIDS (news - web sites) crisis."

    In his eight years in the Senate, Frist has worked on an array of medical and scientific issues--AIDS, organ transplant policy, bioterrorism defense, cloning and stem cells, Medicare reform, tobacco, generic drugs, medical errors, HMO regulation among them. Many, probably most, will come up again this year.

    Sometimes he has reached across the aisle in pursuit of bipartisan compromise, as in the bioterrorism bill he wrote with Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. But often Frist has aligned himself with conservative Republican philosophies, particularly on health-care financing issues.

    For instance, he has backed the Medicare prescription drug proposals, favored by most Republicans, that would have private insurers play a large role in providing any new benefits. Democrats say that approach is too uncertain for the elderly Medicare patients, and tend to favor grafting the new benefits onto the existing government-run program.


    On tobacco for instance, he introduced a bill that was criticized by many leading public health groups. Anti-smoking activists hope the former cardiac surgeon will seize this opportunity to promote stronger legislation giving the Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) power to regulate tobacco.

    "Bill Frist has an opportunity to do more for public health by promoting a bill giving FDA jurisdiction supported by the public health community than almost any other action he could take as majority leader," said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

    Health care costs, after a period of relative stability, have begun to rise far faster than overall inflation and the number of uninsured Americas has risen to 41 million.

    Many health advocates and lobbyists believe Frist will use the leader's prerogative to control the Senate schedule to finally break through some of the stalemates, including Medicare reform and ways of helping the uninsured.

    But those stalemates reflect deep philosophical divides about the role of the public and private sectors in health care and how to spend tax dollars. Frist will have to use his experience and credibility to help bridge the divides.

    "He knows these issues first hand, both from the practicing medicine side and the national policy side," said Dr. Yank Coble, president of the American Medical Association. Coble said he hopes Frist quickly addresses malpractice reform and payments to doctors in Medicare.

    "It's awfully hard to ignore the practical experience he's had," Coble said. "He's probably better able to understand and translate what a serious and acute problem we've got, how close we are to a meltdown."

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