The University of Chicago Medical Center grant walks and talks like just such a political payoff. I have reported extensively on how Mrs. Obama helped engineer the Urban Health Initiative's plan to offload low-income patients with non-urgent health needs. With consulting help from Obama senior adviser David Axelrod's Chicago-based PR firm and the blessing of fellow Chicago pal Valerie Jarrett (who chaired the hospital's board of trustees), 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 by a nonprofit, tax-exempt hospital as minority aid. Clearing out the poor freed up room for insured (i.e., more lucrative) patients.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) blasted MichelleObamacare, expressing "grave concerns that the University of Chicago's policy toward emergency patients is dangerously close to 'patient dumping.'" The group concluded that the Urban Health Initiative "reflected an effort to 'cherry pick' wealthy patients over poor." That practice was made illegal by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) signed by President Ronald Reagan.
Bipartisan complaints about impoverished South Side Chicago patients getting the shaft led GOP Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago to challenge the crony hospital's abuse of its nonprofit status and lucrative tax breaks. But the probe went nowhere.
And now, Whitaker will have $6 million more to play with when he's not vacationing with Obama or grappling with subpoenas over possible kickback and pay-for-play schemes while he served as a top health official under now-jailed Illinois. Gov. Blagojevich. One of the probes involves Whitaker's oversight of medical facilities construction projects exploited by now-convicted real-estate shark Tony Rezko.
Anyone who isn't concerned about the privacy implications of this government-funded records-sharing network hasn't been paying attention to how Team Obama and its surrogates are digging for dirt on private citizens who donate to GOP campaigns. But I digress.
Nothing to see or smell here? Discerning eyes and nostrils beg to differ.
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