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Foundation Calls for Senator Frist to Recuse Himself: Family Fortune May Influence Medical Malpracti

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist should recuse himself from any legislation that would impose a damage award cap on medical malpractice victims due to conflict of interests, claims a letter sent to Frist by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) on Thursday. The letter points out that the Frist family-founded HCA hospital chain and the malpractice insurer Health Care Indemnity (HCI) will gain millions if limits are place on their liability for medical mistakes. Frist brought S. 11 to the Senate floor today, circumventing customary procedures and debate. The bill calls for a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages to medical malpractice victims.

HCA, is the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain, with approximately 200 hospitals and 70 surgery centers nationwide, is the source of the Frist family fortune, with family members owning more than $25 million in HCA stock. In addition, HCI, a wholly owned subsidiary of HCA, writes more than $260 million in medical malpractice premiums and provides liability insurance for HCA-affiliated physicians, hospitals, and other facilities. According to FTCR, if medical malpractice liability caps are put into place, “HCI, HCA, and [Frist’s] entire family stand to profit directly from the passage” of such legislation.

The letter requests that Frist either explain his actions in light of his affiliation with HCA and HCI, or recuse himself from participation in the malpractice debate. Frist has not replied to the letter.


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