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Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
— Posted by denamom, Obama's Quandary...

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Michelle Obama's Hospital Job, Part III

POSTED: 05:46 PM ET, 09/ 8/2008 by The Editors

The Chicago Tribune today weighs into the debate over programs linked to Michelle Obama that seek to steer patients with non-urgent illnesses out of the emergency room at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where Obama is a vice president, and into local clinics.

The Tribune notes, as originally reported on Aug. 22 The Washington Post's Joe Stephens, that some physicians and elected officials question whether the plan is as much about saving money as it is about improving care for the poor and uninsured on Chicago's South Side.

"For all its successes, though, the initiative has prompted questions from a wide array of skeptics, including a prominent Republican senator, a local alderman and some of the hospital's doctors," the Tribune reported. "They all strike a similar chord, which Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) summed up this way: The medical center appears to be 'culling the least profitable patients from its emergency room.' "

As reported in the WaPo investigative blog last week, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is among those questioning the program. Executives at the medical center say they have done nothing wrong and they and a spokesman for the Obama campaign said the center is motivated by the need to focus on true emergencies and advanced medical procedures.

By The Editors |  September 8, 2008; 5:46 PM ET
Previous: Former Hill Aide Indicted in Abramoff Scandal | Next: Palin Per Diem, Travel Expenses Scrutinized


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Why wouldn't anyone want to get non-emergency patients out of the emergency room?

Posted by: Edward Hunter | September 8, 2008 9:15 PM

I chair a patient flow committee in a Level 2 Trauma Center Emergency Department that sees >100,000 people a year. Directing patients with non-urgent healthcare needs to facilities in which they will be provided definitive care with access to follow-up is an absolute emergent need for our nation's emergency departments. From 1995-2005 the number of ED in our nation decreased by roughly 10% while the number of ED visits increased by >25%. Extended wait times, over worked staff, and sub-optimal care are all too common.

It is absolutely absurd and a fickle political move to make any progress towards placing these patients into other care an item of debate. Ask the doctors, nurses, and especially the patients if they would be in favor of a system that links people to care and I guarantee you they will all say "YES!"

Posted by: Lee Rule | September 8, 2008 9:46 PM

That's the Obama healthcare plan, presumably - deny care to those without coverage, fleece the most productive members of society to increase the coverage. Wasn't "bread and circuses" the policy that caused the decline and fall of the Roman Empire?

Posted by: Dr. Acula | September 9, 2008 2:22 AM

This is downright dirty politics. As a physician, I do not see anything wrong with steering patients with non-urgent illnesses out of the emergency rooms and into local clinics. Otherwise, we should not have called them "EMERGENCY ROOM".

Too often, patients with toothaches that have been on-going for months keep showing up to the ER. They drain the resources of emergency rooms and divert the attention of medical staff from patients with truly urgent and emergent medical problems.

Posted by: Hung | September 9, 2008 3:18 AM

i assume dr. acula earned his md as a classmate of dr j and dr pepper. steering non-emergency patients to local clinics where they receive better, more personalized care in a more timely manner. that is not denial of care. that also lowers patient costs for emergency patients in the emergency room. incidentally bread and circuses had less to do with the fall of rome than idiotic imperial adventures. instead of aircraft carriers though, they used "triumphs" to proclaim victory while roman and italian citizens starved and troops were wasted by legacy commanders.

Posted by: george32 | September 9, 2008 5:11 AM

It's all about profit.

Posted by: david | September 9, 2008 6:31 AM

They used to call jobs like Michelle Obama's "feather bedding". Not only was the $350,000 job created for her, she didn't do much and it is clear the job was some kind of political payola, Chicago style. It sure helps to have your husband be a politician. If Saras Palin's husband had a fake job like this the press would be going ape.

Posted by: Tom | September 9, 2008 6:56 AM

I'm no fan of the Obamas, but how is this controversial? Any hospital that isn't doing this needs new management.

Posted by: Jim C | September 9, 2008 7:03 AM

Why would any hospital want to keep non emergency patients out of the Emergency room?
That sounds like a very stupid question. The answer is so obvious that even the most conservative Republican could figure it out. The reason it is a problem is that so called fiscal conservatives can't think of an alternative. An ideal less party is now grasping at straws to try an discredit their opposition. They have no policies that would help the poor receive medical treatment for routine illness. The plan they do have is designed to ruin the health care of working people by taxing the benefit and discouraging companies from providing health care. They will not be satisfied until workers live in cardboard slums around the fences of the factories they own. In my opinion Dr. Acula he is a blood sucking leech.

Posted by: Vic | September 9, 2008 7:15 AM

People go to the ER for "non-emergency" uses because they don't have any health insurance or any health care provider. There are more and more of them, as the insurance companies, using their business model of denying care, cull their lists of those who might actually need medical services. Typically, rationing is done with long wait times, but apparently this hospital wants to do more.

So, under the guise of "true emergency services," the program is triaging patients who can't get care anywhere else, and throwing them out on the street.

Another thread filled with so-called "progressives" bashing the poor and the getting-poor.

Posted by: lambert strether | September 9, 2008 7:31 AM

Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home
Governor and GOP vice presidential nominee has also billed Alaska taxpayers for travel expenses for her children, according to travel documents Yes isnt this nice to see Palin billing the state for staying at home, HELLLLLOOOOOO

Posted by: willing111 | September 9, 2008 7:55 AM

Having spent many nights in emergency rooms when my mother was ill, I saw first-hand the numbers of people using emergency rooms as doctor's offices. Many were there for colds, flu and other non-life threatening illnesses. Making sure that these people get the care they need--outside the ER--is perfectly appropriate. This is just partisan politics once again.

Posted by: FishersMom | September 9, 2008 7:58 AM

did you ever have a nagging toothache, hung? No fun, huh?

Posted by: pat clark | September 9, 2008 8:28 AM

did you ever have a nagging toothache, hung? No fun, huh?

Posted by: pat clark | September 9, 2008 8:29 AM

Posted by: huh? | September 10, 2008 12:16 PM

joe biden received FIVE draft deferments. who took his place in vietnam.

this is the obama health plan, if people can't pay send them elsewhere. and he and his wealthy wife don't care where that somewhere is.
just so long as they get paid.

barack "WALL STREET" obama.

Posted by: deroy | September 18, 2008 1:16 AM

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