This morning, former Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) — who spent a year working as a doctor for the British national health service — argued that President Obama’s health care reform “is not socialized medicine” and predicted that Congress would pass a health care reform bill by December:
So first of all, what the Obama administration is doing is not socialized medicine. You hear a lot of people on the extreme say that socialized medicine is going to come in and control everything. Socialized medicine is where the government owns the hospitals. They own the doctors and they decide how much people are getting paid. And that’s not what’s in these bills.
These “people on the extreme” are members of Frist’s own party. In July, Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican Party, called Obama’s health plan “socialism.” After the HELP committee passed its health bill, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) predicted that “one in five people have to die because they went to socialized medicine!.” Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) called the public option “socialized medicine” and Rep. Pete King (R-NY) described Obama’s campaign health care plans “socialized medicine.”
Frist has recently characterized Republicans as “party of no,” endorsed the individual mandate, and the Senate Finance Committee’s approach to health care reform. During the CSPAN interview, he even praised certain aspects of the British health care system. “There are some great things about the system as well,” he explained. “The primary care, basic care, those physicians get paid more than primary care physicians here…I think from preventive care is probably better there as well.”
Frist encouraged Congress to invest more dollars in prevention and change the way the government pays for health care services. “If you reimburse not on volume, not on quantity, not on more stuff, but on outcomes, on performance, on value to the patient, what works…if you’re really going to get cost effective health care… you have to come with a value based, and not a volume based system.”