Grassley investigates hospital with ties to Obamas

Senior Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has begun asking some hard questions about jobs held by Sen. Barack Obama's wife and one of his best friends. Grassley sent the University of Chicago Medical Center a letter saying he was concerned about reports of the hospital's efforts to steer patients with non-urgent complaints away from the facility's emergency department. This practice, which has drawn little fire in the healthcare community, generally involves directing patients to primary care settings where they can be better served. But apparently, it doesn't sit right with Grassley, who contends that the practice "culls the least profitable patients from its emergency room." 

In his letter to the University of Chicago, Grassley asked for financial data, board minutes and other documents related to hiring, job promotion, business contracting and care for the poor. Where jobs were concerned, he focused in on salaries for two senior positions: executive vice president and vice president of community and external relations. The current EVP, Eric Whitaker, is a close friend of the Obamas, and the current vice president of community and external relations is Michelle Obama. Grassley also asked how the center decided how much charity care it would provide.

To find out more about the controversy:
- read this Washington Post article

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