The stench of Chicago cronyism over the White House just got fouler. Inhale this:
A shadowy $10 billion Obamacare agency with zero oversight just awarded first lady Michelle Obama's pet patient-dumping scheme at the University of Chicago Medical Center a $5.9 million taxpayer-funded grant. It will enable Mrs. Obama's cronies to build a government-sponsored electronic medical record-sharing system.
The Chicago program, known as the Urban Health Initiative, is run by one of President Obama's closest golfing buddies, scandal magnet Eric Whitaker, who has been entangled with Illinois corruption celebrities Rod Blagojevich and Tony Rezko over the past decade.
Fun fact: Whitaker recently was named by author Edward Klein as the man who purportedly offered hate-mongering Rev. Jeremiah Wright $150,000 in hush money during the 2008 campaign.
The nearly $6 million grant was announced last week by the "Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation" at the Department of Health and Human Services. White House watchdog journalist Keith Koffler notes that "some 3,000 applications were received for a share on the $1 billion in 3-year grants available. Only 26 programs were included in the first batch of awards doled out." The administration grants circumvent any and all congressional deliberation as part of Team Obama's election-year "We Can't Wait" initiatives.
The grant recipients will help fulfill the mandated Obamacare vision of a centralized patient-record database with unprecedented federal oversight. The provision is being challenged in court by the Goldwater Institute for forcing Americans to share "with millions of strangers who are not physicians confidential private and personal medical history information they do not wish to share."
HHS denies any favoritism, citing a "competitive, objective" process. But as I first reported in March, a Congressional Research Service analysis concluded that Obamacare's Innovation Center is subject to no administrative or judicial review. The Innovation Center director is, in effect, a super-czar without any checks or balances on his grant-making decisions, methods or results.
I warned two months ago that the Obamacare Innovation Center and its multibillion-dollar slush fund smacked of "another pipeline for political payoffs and Chicago-style boodle that will result in less patient autonomy, fewer health-care choices, more government intrusion and lower-quality care."