9/29/2005

The Raw Story | Company run by Frist's brother made $630m deal two days before he announced he would be leader

Bill Frist, it seems, needs a doctor.

The Senate's plaintive Southern physician -- envisioned as the Republicans’ antidote to a seemingly racist Trent Lott -- is hemorrhaging political capital. The doctor who so memorably assuaged a terrified nation in the wake of the 2001 anthrax attacks is now dancing to a dangerous duet of swirling stock probes.

Today, a RAW STORY investigation has turned up more intrigue surrounding Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's affiliation with his family's booming for-profit hospital chain, HCA.

Just two days before Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) stepped down as Majority Leader in 2002, the company Frist's father started quietly settled a massive Medicare fraud lawsuit for $630 million. The eleventh-hour deal -- brokered with Justice Department attorneys after a seven-year court battle -- was made as Frist (R-TN) secured the necessary votes to assume the Senate's top post.

Those close to the case tell RAW STORY that top HCA executives were scheduled to be deposed the following month. Frist's brother, Thomas Jr., would have been forced to go on the record during the opening days of the senator's tenure as leader.

The timing of the agreement could raise further questions about Frist's ties to the company. Given that the Justice Department had been investigating HCA since 1993 -- some 120 months -- the coincidence of a settlement date so close to Frist's leadership election is striking.

Whether Tennessee's most renowned cardiac surgeon is telling the truth about his ties to the company his brother steered through a massive federal fraud investigation could have bearing on an investigation into whether he had inside information when he sold his shares in June.

The Raw Story | Company run by Frist's brother made $630m deal two days before he announced he would be leader

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