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Bill Frist Walks Back Support For Mandate, But Claims Health Law Is Here To Stay

Yesterday at a health conference in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, former Senate Majority Leader Bil Frist (R-TN) predicted that the Affordable Care Act would survive, even if the individual mandate is declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court:

“I think the individual mandate is unconstitutional. It’s not the bill I would have written,” Frist said. “But it’s not going to fall. The law will be shaped by these elections.” […] But Frist said state insurance exchanges and a mandate on businesses to provide employee health coverage will bring in substantial revenue to build on the foundation that already has 150 million Americans carrying group insurance through their employers. […]

He called the reform law 70 percent good and 30 percent bad. He had been out of Congress for three years when the law came up for a vote last year, but he urged Republicans to support it.

Frist supported the mandate back in 2009, when, in an op-ed for U.S. News and World Report, he wrote, “It is time for an individual health insurance mandate for a minimum level of health coverage.” “It is a conservative approach that would affordably achieve necessary goals,” he added.

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In April 2010, Frist also gave an “A” grade to the provisions in the law aimed at expanding insurance to an additional 32 million people, but argued that the administration could have done more to control spending.