FROM THE 2004 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
NEW YORK • AUGUST 31, 2004
10 years ago, on my first day as a senator,
my dad, a family doctor in Tennessee for 50 years, paid me
a visit. As we sat in my new office, he said: "Son,
the nameplate on your door reads William Frist. Always remember
you're a doctor. You're committed to healing and helping
people. It really should read, William Frist ... M.D." Well,
today the nameplate on the door of my Capitol office reads
just that -- William Frist ... M.D. It's a constant reminder
of my dad's advice: to work each day to better the life of
every individual American. And that, my friends, is what
President George W. Bush has done -- particularly when it
comes to health care.
He has won some huge victories to make health care cost
less and be there when you need it. So, let's talk about
what that means for Americans, and what health care in America
can become. Health care is the lifeblood of our future, and
it touches every life -- our grandparents, our parents, our
children, you. And when you need it, you want it to be reliable.
You want it to be affordable and lifelong. You want it to
reflect the dignity and the value of those you love. And
you want it to be the best. Let me remind you: in 2000 --
before someone borrowed his line -- George Bush promised
that "help is on the way."
Tonight, America can take comfort that help is here. Today,
unlike when my dad practiced, the most powerful tools in
American medicine are prescription drugs. These medicines
help so many get out of bed, pick up their grandchild, walk
to the store, and find joy in each day. Yet these miracle
medicines were denied by Medicare. Well, George Bush has
righted that wrong!
Thanks to his leadership, over 40 million seniors and individuals
with disabilities will soon have access to prescription drugs.
What's more, prescription drug coverage is the centerpiece
of something bigger: the first real reform of Medicare since
its creation. Among the improvements we made are new screenings
for heart disease, diabetes and cancer -- a first ever "Welcome
to Medicare" physical exam. And right now, thanks to
the President's action, this Medicare prescription drug discount
card is providing 4 million seniors with immediate relief
from the high cost of their medicines.
Now some of our opponents don't want seniors to get this
card. They don't want seniors to know that our Party cut
the cost of their medicines. They'd rather play politics
than help patients. Don't listen to them! You can get your
card today. And it's simple. Just call 1-800-MEDICARE. Tell
'em you want your card. Tell 'em Dr. Frist prescribed it.
And let me point out that our opponents talked about doing
this for eight years. While seniors suffered ... they talked
and talked and talked. George Bush and the Republican Congress
delivered. We acted. Not just talk -- action.
This victory for our Party -- and above all for seniors
-- is part of a larger battle we're fighting on behalf of
every American. How we do so is crucial. Our opponents have
a way of confusing compassion with dependency. We believe
true compassion encourages and empowers Americans to be responsible
and take control of their own lives. That's what President
Bush and the Republican Congress did when we made Health
Savings Accounts -- HSAs -- the law of the land. With an
HSA you can invest tax-free in a personal savings account.
You can roll it over year to year or withdraw funds if you
get sick ... without paying a penny of tax. YOU own it. YOU
invest it. YOU grow it. YOU control it. It is YOURS.
So here's the choice: do we grow the bureaucracy and gouge
you with higher taxes, as Mr. Kerry will do? Or, do we let
the American people grow their own HSAs and own their health
care, as George Bush wants to do? We've made our choice.
But I'll tell you what Senator Kerry's prescription will
be: take a handful of tax increases and don't call me in
the morning. President Bush wouldn't stop with HSAs. Health
insurance costs too much. People need help.
President Bush is working for tax credits of up to $1,000
for individuals, and $3,000 for families, to help the uninsured
purchase their own health insurance. And as for small businesses,
they're burdened, often crushed, by health care costs. So,
we want to help them band together to provide affordable
health care for their employees and their families.
Another reason health care costs too much is our abused
medical liability system. The culprits are personal injury
trial lawyers. We oppose these predators. We must stop them
from twisting American medicine into a litigation lottery
where they hit the jackpot and every patient ends up paying.
Let me share with you a story. Two years ago, on a family
vacation in Florida, I came across a horrendous car accident
as my sons and I drove along Alligator Alley. The accident
had just happened. I rushed forward -- as any doctor would
do -- to help four people thrown from their car and two people
trapped inside. Tragically, three children died. But their
parents -- who were critically injured -- and another relative
- - did survive. The next morning, I went to the hospital
to check on the family. The two trauma surgeons who had cared
for them pulled me aside. They said, "Dr. Frist, we
may have to leave this hospital, maybe the state, maybe even
what we love to do. We just can't afford our liability insurance.
And it keeps going up."
Today I checked in with the hospital's Chief of Staff --
Dr. Callari. He said the situation has worsened. Though he
has never been sued, his liability insurance has doubled.
He couldn't afford it and had to drop it. Dr. Callari's father
and grandfather were both physicians. But he doesn't want
his 11 and 12 year old boys to go into medicine. Because
everything he has worked for -- his savings, his family,
his livelihood -- is now at risk. And so are the people of
southern Florida. That hospital has the only Level 1 Trauma
Center in the region. What if it closes? This is unacceptable.
Because in medicine, seconds often mean the difference between
life and death.
Let's be clear: you can no longer be both pro-patient and
pro-trial lawyer. John Kerry has made his choice. He put
a trial lawyer on his ticket. By his votes and by his actions,
he is the "Dr. No" of tort reform in America. President
Bush is fighting this good fight. And in the Senate, where
reform has been blocked, we will fight too. We will come
back again and again and again until doctors, patients, and
the American people win.
Before I close, I'd like to touch briefly on stem cell research.
Scientists work on two basic types of stem cell research.
One is adult -- with cells taken, for example, from bone
marrow or cartilage. Another uses cells taken from human
embryos. Adult stem cell research has already led to cures.
And both fields hold promise. But, contrary to the claims
of some, embryonic stem cell research is still at a very
John Kerry claims that the President has put a "sweeping
ban" on stem cell research. I challenge Mr. Kerry tonight:
what ban? Shame on you, Mr. Kerry. Under the President's
policy, the federal government is funding both types of stem
cell research at record levels. And the private sector remains
free to fund and pursue any type of stem cell research. The
President has also said that we should conduct this research
with the highest moral and ethical standards. An embryo is
biologically human. It deserves moral respect. This President
will not use your taxpayer dollars to destroy human life
or create human embryos solely for the purpose of experimentation.
My friends, I'm so proud of our President's record. He's
making health care more affordable, more accessible. He's
uniting ownership and opportunity -- for millions. And he
is looking to the future. He has a vision to harness America's
awesome potential: through the power of our technologies,
the strength of our sciences, the efficiency of our enterprises,
and the highest aspirations of our people. Prescription drugs
in Medicare, tax-free Health Savings Accounts, an ethical
framework for scientific discovery: these will be part of
our future. Tax credits for the uninsured, electronic medical
records, a just, fair and fast medical liability system:
these could be part of our future.
But, only one candidate will lead us there -- President
George W. Bush. We have a choice. John Kerry's trillion dollar
government-run plan will place your health in the hands of
others faraway. President Bush's plan is patient-centered
-- which is the only, sure prescription for superior care.
Mr. Kerry will empower those who tax you. President Bush
will empower those who cure you. John Kerry remains the personal
injury lawyers' best friend. George Bush will put the interests
of patients, doctors and nurses first. Fellow citizens, on
November 2nd, there is only one choice for a stronger, healthier
and freer America -- George W. Bush.
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