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.
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?