Sen. Barack Obama's wife and three close advisers have been involved with a program at the University of Chicago Medical Center that steers patients who don't have private insurance -- primarily poor, black people -- to other health care facilities.
Michelle Obama -- currently on unpaid leave from her $317,000-a-year job as a vice president of the prestigious hospital -- helped create the program, which aims to find neighborhood doctors for low-income people who were flooding the emergency room for basic treatment. Hospital officials say such patients hinder their ability to focus on more critically ill patients in need of specialized care, such as cancer treatment and organ transplants.
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.
Don't know if this is going to go anywhere. I am told that poor people go to emergency rooms for the sort of things we go to see our doctors, because emergency rooms of many hospitals are required to treat people who can't afford to pay.
But a little way down, you get an idea about how Chicago politics works, one hand washes the other...
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.It's all a close knit club of pols who "do" for each other and make money off the public.
Elect Obama and America will become one big Chicago, where the question is "who sent you?" If you don't get that reference, here it is:
In Chicago politics a key question has always been, who "sent" you? The classic phrase is ... from an anecdote of Abner Mikva's, the former White House Counsel (Pres. Clinton) ... As a young student ... he walked into the local committeman's office ... and was immediately asked: "Who sent you?" Mikva replied, "nobody sent me." And the retort came back from the cigar chomping pol: "Well, we don't want nobody that nobody sent."
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