Romney Really Needs to Fight Back
If Mitt Romney wants to fight back against the onslaught of Obama's vicious and deceptive negative advertising, then Dontae and Angela Adams need to become household names in America. In fact, they need to become symbols for what the Obamas are really about.
The Adams' story begins with Michelle Obama's appointment as an executive director of the University of Chicago Medical Center. Mrs. Obama established satellite health centers ostensibly designed to tend to the community's medical needs. David Axelrod, currently the senior strategist for Obama 2012, subsequently teamed with Michelle to launch an advertising campaign to redirect community members away from the prestigious medical center and to these facilities.
Mrs. Obama's plan was benignly called the Urban Health Initiative. Axelrod's ASK Public Strategies promoted the plan to the community. One of the promotions was that the plan guaranteed free shuttle rides to and from the external satellite clinics.
There is something highly commendable, indeed noble, about bringing medical care to the indigent by going into their neighborhoods. That is, if there is not another agenda in play.
The university medical center is a premier medical institution and caters to well-insured and affluent clients. Some of Chicago's poorest south-side neighborhoods are within a two-mile radius. These people generally have Medicaid or Medicare, if any insurance at all, and the hospital cannot command the kind of reimbursement payments from them that it can command from the well-insured and affluent.
Hospitals get additional subsidies from the federal government to cover charity cases. When Michelle Obama worked for the medical center, it spent less for the care of the indigent, as a portion of total budget, than the average non-profit hospital in Cook County, although the indigent constitute a substantial portion of the population in the surrounding neighborhoods. Indeed, the Mail (London) On Line, in a long story about Mrs. Obama, raised the issue of why she went to work for a hospital which, the Mail alleges, was known in the community for its ruthless greed.
Mrs. Obama, with David Axelrod's help, redirected the indigent away from the hospital to the satellite centers, where care was less costly and, of course, less encompassing. In 2007 and 2008, the medical center, a non-profit organization, was turning a profit well in excess of 100 million dollars. The hospital appeared to community activists to be engaged in a process of dumping the poor and cherry-picking from the rich in order to enhance its revenue. In 2002, the year Michelle started working at the medical center, it refused to admit a man suffering from stomach pains, allegedly because he had no insurance. He later died at another hospital. Four years later, the Department of Health and Human Services fined the hospital because of this case.
In August 2008, twelve-year-old Dontae Adams was attacked by a stray pit bull that nearly tore off his lip. Dontae's mother, Angela Adams, rushed him to the emergency room at the University of Chicago Medical Center. There, Dontae received Tylenol, a tetanus shot, and antibiotics, but the medical center refused to admit him for the vital surgery to sew back on his lip. Angela Adams claims that the hospital refused to accept her Medicaid for the surgery.
A panicked but highly aware mother, Angela Adams took Dontae on a public bus for the hour-long journey to the county medical center. Arriving at five in the morning with gauze pressed to his bleeding wound, Dontae was quickly admitted to surgery so his lip could be reconstructed and his speaking ability preserved. With high praise for the mother's reactions, surgeon Mark Grevious, who reconstructed Dontae's lip, told the press that this was a serious matter, and it needed to be addressed.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), in the wake of the Dontae Adams incident, expressed grave concern over Michelle Obama's medical initiative, diplomatically calling it "dangerously close" to patient-dumping.
For its part, the university's physicians, who reviewed the Adams' case, claim the hospital acted properly, and that admitting Dontae to surgery would have enhanced the prospect of infection. Obviously, the opinion was not shared by Dr. Grevious. Dr. Nick Jourles, president of the ACEP, said that there is no reason why surgery would have enhanced the likelihood of infection.
Mitt Romney, contrary to the pro-Obama campaign ad that falsely asserts that he condemned a cancer patient to death, killed no one. Michelle Obama, in contrast, implemented a policy to redirect poor patients from a hospital that receives tax breaks and incentives, in the hundreds of millions, to treat them. One of these did die as a consequence of that policy. That is not to say Mrs. Obama killed anyone. It is to say that she helped implement a policy and underscored a medical culture of keeping the poor out, and that policy had consequences.
One child could have been speech-impaired for the rest of his life, save for a valiant and determined mother, because of the medical center's policies. And those are the cases that made news.
The tag line for portraying Mrs. Adams' experience should come from her own words: "It's not just about my child."
So if Mitt Romney wants to stop talking about how Barack Obama's negative and deceitful campaign is beneath the dignity of the office and wants to come out swinging, I want to see a poster showcasing Angela Adams as a woman of courage and valor who did not let Mrs. Obama's initiative deprive her son of his ability to speak. And I want to know, who is the faceless and nameless man who died from poverty because of alleged patient-dumping? His death needs to speak to us as part of this campaign. Portraying his death would give dignity and justice both to the man and to the Romney campaign.
Some argue that for the Romney camp to take on the first lady would be a losing battle. Hardly, as both the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune have surfaced the story. And the story has tentacles that reach into the complex relationship between then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama and convicted felon Tony Rezko's pay-for-medical play scheme.
South-side Congressional Democrat Bobby Rush and Republican Senator Charles Grassley unsuccessfully tried to get a national hearing on patient-dumping. It's only the national media that has stayed away from the story.
If Ann Romney's T-shirts and horses are campaign issues, then why shouldn't Mrs. Obama's controversial program of redirecting indigent patients be a campaign issue? Why is it that activists in the communities surrounding the University of Chicago have opposed the program? It's time for the Romney campaign to raise those issues.