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Chicago health care - coming soon to a hospital near you

From the Chicago Tribune, Feburary 19, 2009:

When a stray pit bull attacked 12-year-old Dontae Adams last August, tearing a chunk of the boy's upper lip from his face, his mother took him to the University of Chicago Medical Center. Instead of rushing Dontae into surgery, however, Angela Adams said, the hospital's staff began pressing her about insurance.

"I asked them why that should matter. My child's lip was literally gone," said Adams, a medical assistant whose only insurance is her son's Medicaid coverage.

Adams said she demanded that the medical staff admit Dontae but that they refused. The emergency room staff gave Dontae a tetanus shot, a dose of morphine, prescriptions for antibiotics and Tylenol 3, and told Adams to "follow up with Cook County" in one week, according to medical center documents.

Panicked, Adams took her son on a bus that night for the hourlong journey to John Stroger Hospital. With bloody gauze pressed to the boy's face, they arrived at 5 a.m. Dontae was quickly admitted for surgery so his lip could be fixed and his speech preserved.

"He's fortunate that his mother knew what to do," said Dr. Mark Grevious, the plastic surgeon who reconstructed Dontae's lip. "This was an urgent matter, and it needed to be addressed."

Dontae's experience captures the fears of many South Side residents and health advocates after an announcement this week that the university's medical center plans to expand a bold yet controversial program aimed at clearing its ER of patients with non-urgent injuries and illnesses by redirecting them to community hospitals and clinics.

Those heartless bastards. Surely the evil insurance companies, run by greedy SOB's only out to make a buck, were responsible for this. Not so fast -- the Tribune also reported on the hospital's controversial "Urban Health Initiative" program -- which aims to reduce overcrowding in the hospital emergency room by directing "non-emergency" patients to other local health clinics -- last fall, and noted that the program was developed under the supervision of UCMC's Vice President for Community and External affairs. Surely you've heard of her -- her name is Michelle Obama.

But it's not just Michelle:

Obama's top political strategist, David Axelrod, co-owns the firm, ASK Public Strategies, that was hired by the hospital last year to sell the program -- called the Urban Health Initiative -- to the community as a better alternative for poor patients. Obama's wife and Valerie Jarrett, an Obama friend and adviser who chairs the medical center's board, backed the Axelrod firm's hiring, hospital officials said.

Another Obama adviser and close friend, Dr. Eric Whitaker, took over the Urban Health Initiative when he was hired at U. of C. in October 2007. Whitaker previously had been director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. Obama has said he recommended Whitaker for the state job, giving his name to Tony Rezko, who helped Gov. Blagojevich assemble his Cabinet. Rezko, a former fund-raiser for Obama and Blagojevich, was convicted in June on federal corruption charges tied to state deals.

Obama-Axelrod-Jarrett-Rezko-Blagojevich. Welcome to Chicago.

Although UCMC has been spinning the "Urban Health Initiative" program as a positive for everyone in the community, many doctors see it as nothing more than an elaborate "patient dumping" scheme, whereby UCMC rids itself of indigent patients, thus freeing beds and hospital personnel to care for the privately insured -- especially patients who are admitted to the hospital for highly profitable procedures like organ transplants. Dr. Nick Jouriles, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said:

"If other community, non-profit hospitals follow this example and shift the lion's share of resources to its high-revenue elective patients and procedures, it will leave many emergency patients virtually out in the cold. The University of Chicago Medical Center is located in a poor neighborhood whose residents have few, if any, other options for emergency care ... Most clinics don't have same-day laboratory or X-ray resources needed to determine whether patients have emergency medical conditions. This is an abdication of the hospital's obligation to provide care to its community and a fundamental assault on the safety net that emergency departments are intended to provide."

Do you want to know why conservatives oppose government-run single-payer socialized health care? It's pretty simple really.

This story illustrates, better than anything else that I can think of, a fundamental fact of life -- once the plans of even the best, brightest, and most compassionate people in the world become soiled by the corruption, greed, and cronyism that is inherent in bureaucracy, very little good will come as a result of them. And any government program that gives hundreds of billions of dollars and absolute power over life and death to a single agency will be neck deep in corruption, greed, and cronyism; not to mention waste, fraud, and incompetence. The rich, powerful, and connected will still benefit, of course. There will always be "Friends of Angelo." But the rest of us?

We just elected what is essentially the Chicago political machine to run the executive branch of our government. Do you seriously think that things will be better once they are in complete control of our nation's health care system?

Even with Blessed Queen Mother Michelle overseeing their health care, the poor people of Chicago seem to be no better off now than they were before. At least they still have alternatives. Under Federal socialized medicine, most of those alternatives will disappear. How will any of us be better off then?

(h/t Michelle Malkin and The American Thinker)


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Comments (18)

Having power over life and ... (Below threshold)
914:

Having power over life and death and 900 million bucks to boot is sure to bring about a kinder gentler Hamas? So little Dontae will just have to suck it up and see all the good intentions the Obamas have to bring to the world...
(*&^%$#$%^&Barrrfff@&$^*&^%^)

So much of your argument se... (Below threshold)
Eric Gamazon:

So much of your argument seems to depend on the accuracy of the Dontae Adams story and on your premises about the University of Chicago's Urban Health Initiative. Dontae Adams' is a heartwrenching story, to say the least -- all the more reason for critical thinking, dispassionate fact-finding, and a keen urgency.

But you apply little of your critical acumen to this task and instead jumped right into the conclusion you seem to have wanted to make all along, regardless of the details of the story, of the nature of Michelle obama's involvement, or the other related issues.

The shame is on you for manipulating an emotional story -- heartlessly, given your lack of interest in fortifying your premises -- for an ideological battle you're trying to wage (even if your point about bureaucracy resonates very well).

Gee, if only there was a so... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Gee, if only there was a solution to the problem of hospitals that are increasingly overburdened by a growing population of uninsured patients, coupled with massive budget cuts. If only there was some way to lighten the burden on emergency rooms that are inundated with uninsured people who have no access to preventive care, and people who . UofC Medical Center has established a program to try to deal with this, which is obviously imperfect, but is designed to support a network of health care centers that can take some of the burden of the ER.

I'd also note that this is a private, non-profit hospital, not a government run center. These are the kinds of choices private institutions are being forced to make because of a health care industry that leaves almost 50 million Americans uninsured.

Got any better ideas? Oh yeah, tax cuts. Great.

But countries that insure e... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

But countries that insure every child are socialist, mantis, and therefore the enemy of freedom. [/tard]

This program by Michelle Ob... (Below threshold)

This program by Michelle Obama and promoted by Axlerod is in essence patient dumping which is illegal. This is exactly what Libs do. Say they will help you and then do the opposite. This was all about money and nothing about helping people. This is typical. No surprise here.

http://franklinslocke.blogspot.com/

Some animals are more equal... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Some animals are more equal than others. If you have a problem with that, just remember "We won".

BTW, Michelle provided such outstanding service, her salary went from $100k to $300k in the space of 1 year. I'm sure it didn't have anything to do with that ONE MILLION DOLLAR earmark for the hospital by some senator by the name of Barack.

Michelle's services were so valuable, when she left, they didn't replace her.

Hyper, please enlighten us ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Hyper, please enlighten us on a socialist country that has the freedoms we do. Tap, tap, tap. Waiting. ww

"Michelle's services were s... (Below threshold)
914:

"Michelle's services were so valuable,when she left,they did'nt replace her."

Apparently America hating money laundering front Women are hard to come by.

Willie: by freedom, do you ... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Willie: by freedom, do you mean the freedom to live in a country with a lower literacy rate than Cuba?

No, by freedom you mean a lack of government interference in the lives of all non-homosexuals/recreational drug users.

Anyway, off the top of my head, people in the Netherlands have more "freedom" than people in America (to use the word the way you choose to understand it). And, on the whole, people in Scandinavian countries are on average better off than Americans, as are the Swiss. (By better off, I mean, they enjoy a higher standard of life.)

If you are implying that allowing children to go without health insurance is a fair price to pay in order for you to have more "freedom", then you would have some serious conceptual and moral obstacles to hurdle before you successfully make that case.
depp=true
notiz=Enough of your race baiting. No@way.jose

"Got any better ideas? Oh y... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

"Got any better ideas? Oh yeah, tax cuts. Great."

So... if people were able to keep more of their own money, they WOULDN'T be able to better afford healthcare? Explain the "logic" of that.

Gee, I wonder why Willie is... (Below threshold)

Gee, I wonder why Willie isn't living in Cuba. And with all that freedom, he surely would have a wonderful life in the Netherlands or Scandinavia. After all, there's plenty of room since so many Dutch and Scandinavians have come here to live.

So... if people were abl... (Below threshold)
mantis:

So... if people were able to keep more of their own money, they WOULDN'T be able to better afford healthcare? Explain the "logic" of that.

Yes, people with no jobs and lower wage jobs cannot afford to pay the average $8,000+ per person annually to cover insurance ($13,000 by 2018 at this rate). Hell, most lower middle class families can't afford it anymore. But tax cuts for the top 2% would solve everything, I'm sure.

actually the folks in the n... (Below threshold)
ke_future:

actually the folks in the netherlands do not have more freedom than we do. in fact they have less. ever hear of a guy named Greet as just an example. sure, sex and drugs are more available, but honest commentary about the evils of radical islam? not allowed. if you don't have the freedom to express yourself, you have no freedom at all. there's a reason that's the first amendment.

oh, and if you really want to hold western europe up as an example, you really should go and read the proposed EU constitution that the political elites have been trying to get implemented. so much for freedom

ke_future, it helps if you ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

ke_future, it helps if you know what you're talking about. First, the guy's name is Geert Wilders, not Greet, and his commentary is allowed in The Netherlands. In fact he's quite popular there; his party is the most popular in the country and is poised to launch him to the Prime Minister post in the upcoming elections. Here's the response of the prosecutor addressing calls in 2008 to prosecute Wilders for his comments:

"That comments are hurtful and offensive for a large number of Muslims does not mean that they are punishable. Freedom of expression fulfils an essential role in public debate in a democratic society. That means that offensive comments can be made in a political debate."

It is true that a Dutch court has recently insisted that Wilders be prosecuted for "inciting racial hatred and discrimination." He says he will take it to the Dutch Supreme Court if it ever goes to trial, and he'll win.

It's the UK that he was banned from.

Don't think I'm defending speech laws in any European country, because I'm not, but you should really know what you're talking about.

Btw, none of this has anything to do with health care, of course.

Um, Mr./Mrs./Ms. Censor? Me... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Um, Mr./Mrs./Ms. Censor? Methinks you fail to understand what "race baiting" means.

And as for the fake email address, you'd be nuts to think I'd disclose that to anyone who links to Michelle Malkin's blog. I get enough garbage email as it is.

Hyperbolist:I have... (Below threshold)
maggie:

Hyperbolist:

I have no problem discerning race baiting.
Or ethnicity baiting, or gender baiting.

Eric,I've liked,WO... (Below threshold)
corwin:

Eric,
I've liked,WORKED in ER's.What part of the story do you find non credible?
UC is trying to dump/turf patients?That's been well known for years.WHy wouldn't they?THe ER's are mainly serving non emergent and poor or non paying patients.
#3.Having patients able to use the ER as a walk in is what collapses the system.And a big pile on is my(and other docs) having to run un necessary tests to CYA.I kept track of the # of actual ER patients-as opposed to cough ,cold rash patients I saw in a shift.2 of 21.(And so I don't have to listen to your racism,it was a poor white community.
Having an unlimited want guarantees the system collapses(See CAnada.Or do you think it's better for everyone to have shit care?

And Eric,I am trying to und... (Below threshold)
Corwin:

And Eric,I am trying to understand why you're trumpeting the 'dispassionate' meme-except as a method of discrediting a story unfavorable to your views.Perhaps I'm wrong.Naw.
Corwin.MD.And pretty passionate about it




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