Rush wants hearing into UofC Hospital program

June 4, 2009 (CHICAGO) In a May 25 letter to New York Democratic Rep. Ed Towns, Rush said the issue of low-income and uninsured people seeking treatment being turned away from hospitals is a problem nationwide. Towns is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Specifically, Rush is expressing concern over the University of Chicago Medical Center's Hospitals' Urban Health Initiative, which steers patients who lack private insurance to other facilities.

The American College of Emergency Physicians has expressed concern that the policy comes close to patient dumping.

Hospital officials say the initiative offers patients quicker and less expensive care at neighborhood clinics.

A statement from U of C Hospital spokesman John Easton reads:

"We are surprised and disappointed that Congressman Rush has made this request without notifying the Medical Center or trying to verify the allegations, which his news release attributes to 'recent media accounts." The University of Chicago Medical Center is the largest private provider of Medicaid services in Illinois. Of the ten largest non-public hospitals in the Chicagoland area, UCMC provides far and away the most care for patients covered by Medicaid, nearly three times the median of the other nine. The Medical Center's contributions to care for the poor are many times the value of its tax exemptions. The Medical Center is also an anchor for health care for the poor on the South Side of Chicago. It is a leading proponent of health care reform and has invested millions of dollars in building a sorely needed network, the Urban Health Initiative, which includes collaborations with federally qualified health centers and community hospitals to develop a sustainable system of providers throughout the region."

The hospital also released these figures in response.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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