The [Tuesday] Papers
"In my own small way, I've tried to give back to this country that has given me so much," Michelle Obama said in her speech last night. "That's why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service."
"One of Michelle Obama's signature efforts has been working to relieve crowding in the emergency room, the second-busiest in Chicago," the Washington Post reports.
"Backed by a federal grant, Michelle Obama in 2005 launched the South Side Health Collaborative, under which counselors advise patients with noncritical needs that they can receive care elsewhere at a reduced cost. The medical center said in a report that some patients 'make frequent visits to the ER because no one in the family has a personal doctor . . . '
"[A] hospital report quotes Michelle Obama as saying, 'The world is seeping in, and our salvation will be the success of our partners' at local clinics.
"Obama's program has enjoyed favorable news media coverage in Chicago and was eventually expanded into a broader program, the Urban Health Initiative . . . Critics, however, describe the program as an attempt to ensure that the hospital retains only affluent patients with insurance.
"If you put enough money into it, you could save a whole bunch of community health centers," [Quentin] Young said. "But to date, they haven't."
"Edward Novak, president of Chicago's Sacred Heart Hospital, declined to discuss the center's initiative in particular but dismissed as 'bull' attempts to justify such programs as good for patients. 'What they're really saying is, Don't use our emergency room because it will cost us money, and we don't want the public-aid population,' Novak said."
This is where things get cozy. Susan Sher, former corporate counsel to Mayor Richard M. Daley, hired Michelle Obama for a job that had not previously existed ("We really didn't know what this office would be, so it was really her creation," Sher said). Michelle Obama worked with Sher at City Hall - that's right, Michelle worked for Daley, though little has been reported about what she actually did. Once ensconced at the University of Chicago Medical Center, Michelle turned to an old friend: David Axelrod.
"In December 2006, the medical center hired a public relations firm, ASK Public Strategies, to help sell the Urban Health Initiative. ASK is co-owned by Axelrod, Obama's chief campaign strategist. ASK was selected on the recommendation of Michelle Obama . . . ASK started work in January 2007; the next month, Barack Obama launched his campaign.
"The firm delivered its report in May 2007 saying that, while nurses were generally favorable about the Urban Health Initiative, 'primary care doctors were more negative, viewing it as a break with UCMC's community commitment.'"
Axelrod's survey research found that "While most of those surveyed expressed favorable views of the center and its program, critics complained of arrogance and a lack of empathy . . . More than a few staff members - particularly medical staff - express strongly worded concern or disappointment with UCMC in its commitment to the community . . .
"One survey question asked for reaction to a particular criticism that had been leveled:
"'This new health initiative is not really about helping the residents of the South Side of Chicago. It is simply a way for the University of Chicago Medical Center to save money and reduce costs by serving fewer poor people without health insurance.'"
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"'I've had some complaints from my constituents,' said Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, a former teacher who represents Chicago's 4th Ward and who will be an Obama delegate at the Democratic National Convention. 'It's hard to know whether this is motivated by the interests of the patients or by the financial interests of the medical center.'
"Asked her personal conclusion, Preckwinkle paused. 'They have decided they need to have as many paying patients as possible," she said. 'That's all I'm going to say.'"
Michelle Obama, an American success story.
Oh, but you just did.
Finally, dedication to public service doesn't include local schools; Michelle is on the board of the private University of Chicago Lab School - where she and Barack send their kids.
Except when it comes to domestic spying, offshore oil drilling, gun control, trade agreements and campaign finance. Then you do what you think you need to do once the primary is over.
Crooked Talk Express
He also told her she had "killer eyes."
The Beachwood Tip Line: Indefatigable.
Posted on August 26, 2008
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