I blogged about Michelle Obama’s role in creating a patient-dumping scheme for the University of Chicago Medical Center back in March. With her husband and the Democrats unleashing health care horror story anecdotes to gin up public fear and build support for the beleaguered Obamacare plan, my syndicated column today revisits the kind of “reform” the Obamas and their Chicago cronies champion — and who benefits.
The Obamacare horror story you won’t hear
by Michelle Malkin
The White House, Democrats, and MoveOn liberals are spreading health care sob stories to sell a government takeover. But there’s one health care policy nightmare you won’t hear the Obamas hyping. It’s a tale of poor, minority patient-dumping in Chicago — with First Lady Michelle Obama’s fingerprints all over it.
Both Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago have raised red flags about the outsourcing program, run by the University of Chicago Medical Center. The hospital has non-profit status and receives lucrative tax breaks in exchange for providing charity care. Yet, it spent a measly $10 million on charity care for the poor in fiscal 2007 when Mrs. Obama was employed there—1.3 percent of its total hospital expenses, according to an analysis performed for The Washington Post by the non-partisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. The figure is below the 2.1 percent average for nonprofit hospitals in surrounding Cook County.
Rep. Rush called for a House investigation last week in response to months of patient-dumping complaints, noting: “Congress has a duty to expend its power to mitigate and prevent this despicable practice from continuing in centers that receive federal funds.”
Don’t expect the president to support a probe. While a top executive at the hospital, Mrs. Obama helped engineer the plan to offload low-income patients with non-urgent health needs. Under the Orwellian banner of an “Urban Health Initiative,” Mrs. Obama sold the scheme to outsource low-income care to other facilities as a way to “dramatically improve health care for thousands of South Side residents.” The program guaranteed “free” shuttle rides to and from the outside clinics.
In truth, it was old-fashioned cost-cutting and favor-trading repackaged as minority aid. Clearing out the poor freed up room for insured (i.e., more lucrative) patients. If a Republican had proposed the very same program and recruited black civic leaders to front it, Michelle Obama and her grievance-mongering friends would be screaming “RAAAAAAAAACISM!” at the top of their lungs.
Joe Stephens of the Washington Post wrote: “To ensure community support, Michelle Obama and others in late 2006 recommended that the hospital hire the firm of David Axelrod, who a few months later became the chief strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Axelrod’s firm recommended an aggressive promotional effort modeled on a political campaign—appoint a campaign manager, conduct focus groups, target messages to specific constituencies, then recruit religious leaders and other third-party ‘validators.’ They, in turn, would write and submit opinion pieces to Chicago publications.”
Some health care experts saw through Mrs. Obama and her public relations man, David Axelrod—yes, the same David Axelrod who is now Mr. Obama’s senior adviser at the White House. The University of Chicago Medical Center hired Axelrod’s public relations firm, ASK Public Strategies, to promote Mrs. Obama’s Urban Health Initiative. Axelrod had the blessing of Chicago political guru Valerie Jarrett – now White House senior adviser.
Axelrod’s great contribution: Re-branding! His firm recommended re-naming the initiative after “[i]nternal and external respondents expressed the opinion that the word ‘urban’ is code for ‘black’ or ‘black and poor’….Based on the research, consideration should be given to re-branding the initiative.” Axelrod and the Obama campaign refused to disclose how much his firm received for its genius re-branding services.
In February 2009, outrage in the Obamas’ community exploded after a young boy covered by Medicaid was turned away from the University of Chicago Medical Center. Dontae Adams’ mother, Angela, had sought emergency treatment for him after a pit bull tore off his upper lip. Mrs. Obama’s hospital gave the boy a tetanus shot, antibiotics, and Tylenol and shoved him out the door. The mother and son took an hour-long bus ride to another hospital for surgery.
I’ll guarantee you this: You’ll never see the Adams family featured at an Obama policy summit or seated next to the First Lady at a joint session of Congress to illustrate the failures of the health care system.
Following the Adams incident, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) blasted Mrs. Obama and Mr. Axelrod’s grand plan. The group released a statement expressing “grave concerns that the University of Chicago’s policy toward emergency patients is dangerously close to ‘patient dumping,’ a practice made illegal by the Emergency Medical Labor and Treatment Act (EMTALA)” – signed by President Reagan, by the way – “and reflected an effort to ‘cherry pick’ wealthy patients over poor.”
Rewarding political cronies at the expense of the poor while posing as guardians of the downtrodden? Welcome to Obamacare.
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