09/28/2005: Thought for the Day:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's 2008 presidential campaign has gotten off to a rocky start, what with the Securities and Exchange Commission and a U.S. attorney investigating whether Frist ordered the sale of his shares in HCA, the hospital company his family founded, because he knew the stock was about to plummet.
Frist welcomes the investigation, and he's probably correct that he will be cleared of wrongdoing. Sure, his blind (or perhaps seeing-eye) trust sold shares in the company ahead of a disappointing earnings report in July. But a shrewd investor (or broker) didn't need a personal tip from a company official to dump HCA in May and June. You could just look at sales by HCA executives—widely available to the public through SEC filings and on free services like Yahoo! finance—to see how company insiders were trying to get out before a crash.
The real story about Frist and HCA is just how little he has done to help his family company. As Senate leader, he has done nothing to address the health-insurance problems that have caused HCA's stock to plummet. Republican policies have been troublesome for many health-care businesses, but they have been particularly devastating to HCA.
Len on 09.28.05 @ 07:54 AM CST