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 Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois have raised red flags about the outsourcing program run by the University of Chicago Medical Center. The hospital has nonprofit status and receives lucrative tax breaks in exchange for providing charity care.
Yet, in fiscal year 2007, when Mrs. Obama was employed there, it spent a measly $10 million on charity care for the poor -- 1.3 percent of its total hospital expenses, according to an analysis performed for The Washington Post by the nonpartisan 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."
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.