% IssueDate = "1/10/03" IssueCategory = "Events" %>
Fraudulent Hospital Business Fined Largest Amount in History
Senator Opposes Job Bias Reform and Hate Crime Legislation
This paragraph was buried near the end of a somewhat lengthy article. The facts it contained were ignored by the mainstream media which instead focused on the image of a "good Samaritan" Frist who, during the holidays, stopped to aid automobile crash victims in Florida.
People for the American Way quickly published Frist's voting record, demonstrating that it was nearly identical to Trent Lott's. When it came to issues that affect gay men and lesbians such as discrimination in employment and hate crime legislation, Frist's record showed that he opposed basic reforms.
"Few senators have a worse voting record on civil rights than Trent Lott, but Bill Frist is one of them," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women.
In the January 10 issue of LA Weekly, Doug Ireland, writes about "The Bad Doctor" and tells how Bush's Justice Department (under John Ashcroft) quietly brought, through a settlement, an end to the long-running federal investigation into the corporate crookedness of Hospital Corporation of America, Frist's family's business. http://www.laweekly.com/ink/03/08/news-ireland.php
The Justice Department investigation ceased, not surprisingly, at the very same time that the White House became engaged behind the scenes in Frist's January 6th replacement of Trent Lott as the Senate's Majority Leader.
Ireland notes, as had USA Today, that HCA's agreement to the terms of the settlement with the government meant that it would pay a total that amounted to "the largest fraud settlement in history…" Even more shocking, perhaps, is the fact that HCA, in spite of having defrauded Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare (covering the military), has been allowed to continue its connections to them.
Frist's brother, Thomas, and other moneybags at HCA escaped all criminal charges for having bilked government aid to the poor, charges which could have sent them to jail. The "health" company's director (and former CEO) is said to have a personal fortune estimated at nearly $2 billion.
What did HCA do? Forbes magazine described some of its crimes thusly:
"The company increased Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating. It also granted doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors' referring patients to HCA. In addition, it gave doctors 'loans' that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture - and free drugs from hospital pharmacies."
Although Frist has never worked for his family's "health" facilities, he nevertheless owns $26 million of its stock. As Majority Leader in the Senate he will be a major influence in life and death issues revolving around Medicare and health care generally.
Can he be blamed directly for his family business's grotesque and unethical practices? Does the apple fall far from the tree?