Frisking Frist Over HCA
July 26, 2006 - 10:55am ET
Sen. Bill Frist may not have a direct financial stake in the record buyout announced earlier this week of HCA, the healthcare company founded by his family . But he does have a personal stake. For one, his brother belongs to the investment team that cut the deal. Then there's that nasty ongoing federal investigation into whether Frist dumped his stock in HCA right before the stock lost value. The SEC investigation has faded from the headlines since it was first announced, but it's not over. With any luck, the HCA deal will give reporters an opportunity to note that Frist is still under the cloud of an investigation. And the public will remember that, at the same time he was making decisions about the nation's health care policy, Frist had a vested interest in the private health care industry.
Even if Frist is ultimately cleared in the investigation, there's no question that his position in the Senate was key to passing the Medicare prescription drug plan. Medicare has always been a big part of HCA's business, comprising both legal and illegal activities, such as the case of the fraudulent billing scam HCA got nabbed for. As older and disabled Americans who depend on Medicare continue to struggle with the fallout from the disastrous Medicare bill, it's worth remembering the conflicted interests of the people involved in crafting it. And if coverage of the HCA deal stirs up Frist's sordid role in all this, so much the better.
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