Transcript of Sen. Bill Frist's Convention Speech

Aug. 3, 2000 -- Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist, a respected doctor, spoke to the Republican National Convention about the nation’s health care system and Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s plan to fix it. Read a full transcript of his remarks here.

Sen. Bill Frist:

My friends, since America was founded, we’ve been guided by the glow of liberty’s lamp. Today’s senior citizens have long been the custodians of that lamp.

Their bravery in war, their industry in peace, and their personal sacrifice in raising their families gave us the foundation upon which to build the finest health care system in the world. Our obligation to them is not satisfied simply by maintaining a Medicare program rooted in 1960’s medicine.

The Greatest Generation and generations to come deserve MODERN health security, including affordable access to prescription drugs.

America’s health care system has undergone sweeping changes. As a heart-lung transplant surgeon, I’ve been blessed to see these changes firsthand. In 1965, when Medicare was first created, heart transplants were only a dream.

Tonight, I think of Vivian Reeves. Last year, at the age of 70, Vivian energetically trotted me from booth to booth at the National Cornbread Festival down in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee.

I transplanted Vivian’s failing heart 10 years ago. She is THRIVING today, not because of advances in surgical technique, but because of the discovery of this REMARKABLE drug—a drug that revolutionized our ability to make transplants work.

And in 1965, the word biotechnology was not even in our vocabulary. Today, researchers have mapped our entire genetic code.

They are replicating proteins in laboratories and converting them into life-saving therapies so that patients with crippling rheumatoid arthritis can escape their wheelchairs and walk once again.

Scientists are continuously arming doctors with an impressive arsenal of drugs to combat cancer, heart disease, and AIDS.

But change without ACCESS is an empty promise. And access without QUALITY is not acceptable to Republicans. Because even amidst all this change, the most important thing is CARING for people.

Republicans believe that every parent must be able to take their sick child to the closest emergency room.

We believe, as a matter of principle, that the patient and the doctor must be at the heart of all medical decisions — not some HMO bureaucrat.

In Texas, Governor Bush has advanced these principles through such reforms as requiring HMOs to give women direct access to their OB/GYN and allowing PATIENTS to choose their OWN doctor, even outside of their health care plan. Under George W. Bush’s caring leadership, we will be able to guarantee the rights of ALL patients. Only under his direction, can we forge the bipartisan coalition necessary to strengthen Medicare.

This country needs a president who will not be an obstacle to true Medicare reform.

Under George W. Bush’s tenure, seniors will no longer have to face the impossible choice between putting food on the table and paying for their medicines.

On his watch, government regulation will not be permitted to smother the spark of innovation that yields medical miracles. Instead, President George W. Bush will ignite that spark into a FLAME.

As Sir Winston Churchill noted, “Once the fire is lit, there is no limit to the power it can generate.”

Thank you.