Wednesday, Congress moved one step closer to punishing health insurance companies for releasing their recent report about the expected high costs of the Democrats' proposed health care takeover. Last Saturday, Barack Obama told the nation via his weekly address that health insurance industry's reports were "phony," "bogus" and "all too familiar."
“It’s smoke and mirrors,” Obama said. “It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, ‘Take one of these, and call us in a decade.’ Well, not this time.”
Obama's "too familiar" slur shouldn't be overlooked. The President is very familiar with using "cherry picked data" to manipulate towards an ends. Just before his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Obama himself used SEIU-ACORN authored reports to push an Illinois Senate Health and Human Services Committee into investigating Advocate Health Systems billing practices and eventually forced the hospital to succumb to union demands.
In 2004, SEIU/ACORN's Hospital Accountability Project embarked on a course of doing all it could to smear Chicago's largest medical employer, Advocate Health Systems, by releasing a study pointing to Advocate's bill collection system. SEIU's report said Advocate recouped medical costs from uninsured persons by overcharging and resorting to liens on private property when the collection techniques were not successful.
Advocate Health Care system's private, non-profit hospitals are located for the most part within Cook County, where county hospital facilities offer public health care access to uninsured and indigent.
Based on that 2004 SEIU/ACORN report on Advocate, Illinois' Attorney General Lisa Madigan and then-State Senator Barack Obama urged and initiated investigations into Advocate's billing practices. Madigan's office initiated legal investigations and Obama's Senate Health and Human Services' Committee held hearings on Advocate's billing practices. Obama also wrote to Illinois' Health Facilities Planning Board, urging them to consider Advocate's billing practices when considering allowing Advocate to build a new hospital in the southwest suburbs.
In 2004, Obama wrote to Illinois' hospital planning board:
Not only did SEIU/ACORN push for billing practice changes, they also demanded that Advocate allow its staff to become unionized.
Both Madigan and Obama were recipients of SEIU union campaign donations.
Ultimately, Advocate revamped its billing and collection practices, and forgave uninsured patients hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills. They also sued SEIU for defamation.
Obama's historic involvement with SEIU's pressure on Advocate Health Care Systems is ironic, considering Obama's complaint this week about the health insurance industry's studies "bogus" reports being used to influence the public's opinion on the Democrats' health care plan. Now more powerful at the national level with Democrats' majority in Congress, the Obama is able to use his executive position to declare war on a health insurance industry by pushing for legislation constructed to badly cripple the industry.
Advocate Healh's plans to build a new facility in the southwest suburbs was rejected by the hospital facilities planning board. When recently asked as to whether they intend on applying for expansion again soon, an Advocate spokesperson said there were no plans in the near future.
More to come on Illinois Review...