Frist backs off support for healthcare reform

The former Senate Republican leader had appeared to back Democrats' plans

Published October 5, 2009 9:40PM (EDT)

Last week, former Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist was saying that if he were still in his old seat, "I would end up voting for" at least one version of the Democrats' healthcare reform proposals. This week, he's singing a different tune.

“There are five bills on the floor now -- none of them are perfect. People try to put words in my mouth saying ‘You support the Baucus bill.’ I don’t support the Baucus bill as written today,” Frist told ABC News Radio on Monday. "It’s going to cost way too much and we’re not going to get all the uninsured into the marketplace .... There’s some egregious things in there that will cost all the taxpayers too much money and not give them anything.”

Frist's apparent retraction is a minor blow for Democrats, who surely woudl have used the former leader's words against his old Senate colleagues as few -- if any -- of them will end up voting for the reform legislation. It would be interesting to know whether he was genuinely misinterpreted when he gave an interview to Time's Karen Tumulty, or whether he's gotten pressure from fellow Republicans who realized how damaging his comments could be.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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