Frist says lawmakers not paying enough attention to health care
By ERIK SCHELZIG
Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist says state lawmakers should be paying more attention to health care issues.
Frist, a Nashville Republican, said in a blog post that more needs to be done to reduce the number of Tennesseans who don’t have health insurance. He posted the comments on his Web site after the General Assembly convened Tuesday.
First said he’d followed news accounts about priorities in the run-up to the session and that “nowhere in my reading did I find any references to increasing the number of people who can receive quality, affordable health care.”
The commentary is another example of the former Senate majority leader becoming more involved in state politics as he considers a bid for governor in 2010. He has also stepped up his fundraising for state Republicans and his speaking engagements before GOP groups.
First, 55, is a physician who was elected to the Senate in 1994. He served two six-year terms.
“Although Tennessee has made progress in addressing TennCare and other healthcare-related issues, the job is far from finished,” Frist said in the posting.
First indicated in an interview with The Associated Press last summer that one of his considerations about a potential bid for governor would be whether he could build upon the Cover Tennessee health care program created by Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2006.
The Cover Tennessee plan offers subsidized health care to low-income workers and other insurance plans for children and people with chronic illnesses.
Bredesen, a Democrat, also cut 170,000 adults from TennCare, the state’s expanded Medicaid program earlier in his first term because of out of control costs.
Frist’s political action committee gave $208,000 to Republican candidates and committees in Tennessee in 2006. Frist’s PAC last year gave $5,000 to unsuccessful state Senate candidate Oscar Brock of Chattanooga.
House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower said he agrees that health care needs to be emphasized and said his party wants to do more on long-term care issues.
“I welcome the input of Sen. Frist as an expert in these areas, and I may well take this opportunity in these next few days to talk to him to see what he thinks some good ideas would be,” said Mumpower, R-Bristol.
On the Net:
Frist’s blog: http://www.volpac.org
Tennessee General Assembly: http://www.legislature.state.tn.us
Published in The Messenger 1.9.08