Majority Leader Hopeful Bill Frist:
Prescription for Health Care Campaign Contributors' Policy Paybacks
-- Sen. Bill Frist
(R-TN), a frontrunner for the position of Senate Majority leader, is
deeply beholden to the health care interests thanks to the millions
in campaign contributions he has taken from the industry, charged the
nonpartisan campaign finance reform group Public Campaign today.
Frist has collected more
than $2 million in campaign money from the health care industry in his
campaigns for Congress, making him the top recipient of health campaign
dollars in the new Senate, and millions more as chairman of the National
Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. During his career in the Senate,
he has consistently championed the interests of the health care industry
when its bottom-line interests conflicted with public health.
"Bill Frist isn't the
senator from the State of Tennessee - he's the senator from the State
of Health Care Industry Influence. He's gotten more than $2 million
from the health care sector, giving him the dubious distinction of raising
more cash from health care interests than 98 percent of his colleagues,"
said Nick Nyhart, executive director of Public Campaign.
"In turn, Frist has
done many a favor for his health care contributors, to the detriment
of public health. He has voted to weaken patients' ability to hold their
HMOs accountable for withholding needed medical care. He's voted to
subsidize the drug industry with taxpayer dollars rather than expand
Medicare to help seniors get affordable prescription drugs. He's championed
the interests of tobacco companies over our nation's kids, and he's
opposed legislation to help insure that our food is safe of harmful
"If Frist succeeds in
becoming the Senate Majority Leader, keep a careful watch on your vital
signs. Our eroding health care system will only get worse."
Follow the Frist
Health Care Campaign-Money-and-Deeds Trail:
- Frist collected $2,085,583
from the health care sector during his Senate career, making him the
top recipient of special interest health care cash in the new Senate.
He serves on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
in the Senate, where members work out the details of health care policy.
- With $123,750, he's the
number four recipient in the Senate for campaign cash from HMOs. In
2001 he voted against legislation that would have improved patients'
access to care and allowed them to hold their HMOs accountable for
failure to provide adequate treatment. [Senate Roll Call Vote No.
220, 107th Congress, 1st Session, June 29, 2001.] In 1999, he voted
against an amendment that would have guaranteed patients access to
specialists' care. [Senate Roll Call Vote No. 205, 106th Congress,
1st Session, July 14, 1999.]
- He's collected $265,023
from the pharmaceutical/health products industry, making him the seventh
top recipient in the Senate. He voted in favor of legislation that
would have given tax subsidies to HMOs and insurance companies to
offer prescription drug coverage to senior citizens, rather than provide
it under the Medicare program. [Senate Roll Call Vote No. 187, 107th
Congress, 2nd Session, July 23, 2002.]
- " He's gotten $41,574
from the tobacco industry. In 2001, he was the lead sponsor of legislation
on tobacco regulation (S. 190) that the Campaign for Tobacco Free
Kids called "worse than no legislation at all," and said
would "result in business as usual for the tobacco industry and
do nothing to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco."
[U.S. Newswire, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, June 14, 2001.]
- " Frist has taken
$130,204 from food processing/sales, livestock, and poultry and eggs
industries. In return, in 2001, he voted to quash legislation that
would have strengthened the USDA's authority to crack down on processing
plants that violate standards for bacteria and virus infestation of
meat and poultry. [Senate Roll Call Vote No. 314, 107th Congress,
1st Session, October 25, 2001.]
Source for all campaign finance figures is the Center
for Responsive Politics, www.crp.org.
Campaign is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to sweeping
reform that aims to reduce dramatically the influence of special interest
money and big contributors on America's elections. Public Campaign
is laying the foundation for reform by working with citizens organizations
and other groups around the country that are fighting for comprehensive
change. Together, we are building a network that includes participants
from many states, creating a powerful national force for federal reform.