Bill Frist's Strange Timing
OK, let’s take a short walk through Bill Frist’s minefield.
While in the United States Senate, Frist has owned stock in his family’s HCA Incorporated for years, without recusing himself from debates and floor votes that served to benefit his family’s healthcare and hospital management company. He has defended himself from conflict of interest charges during this time by telling everyone that his assets were in a blind trust and not under his active control.
Now, with HCA’s directors finding out about a poor earnings report, it is suddenly revealed that Frist’s “blind trust” wasn’t blind after all. Frist did in fact have enough active control over this “blind trust” to order the sale of his HCA assets in advance of this earnings report, to maximize income or long-term capital gain. So all these years, while HCA's stock price more than doubled since 1999, and Frist was acting on legislation that helped his family’s company, Frist did in fact have control over his assets, which means that a conflict of interest did exist all these years.
Frist’s story is that his blind trust in fact allowed him to order the sale of his HCA assets, (which made up by one account 89% of his total trust) if holding HCA creates a conflict of interest or creates even an appearance of such a conflict. Yet Frist retained the right to make such a determination all these years he has been in the Senate, but has never seen fit to determine that a conflict of interest or appearance of one existed until he was faced with watching the devaluation of 89% of his trust. Frist never thought such a conflict existed while he shepherded the Medicare Part D benefit through the Senate, he never thought such a conflict existed while he dealt with Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement issues every year over the last decade, helped kill the patient bill of rights, or passed medical malpractice limits through the Senate.
He only thought about this conflict of interest when he knew he was about to lose money.