Friday, December 12, 2008

Pay-to-Play: Could It Happen With National Health Care Reform?

Say it ain't so.

But as the depth and extent of the pay-to-play backbone of Chicago politics unfolds, we should ask ourselves if the same scenario could happen nationally as the government Big Boys consume increasing influence over health care, the backbone of our economy.

One only need to look at the indictment of Governor Blagojevich to see the depths that people go to acquire Mercy hospital's Certificate of Need approved by the State Planning Board (a la the Tony Resko scandal), or of the threatened withholding of funds to Children's Hospital by the governor when he didn't get his backdoor campaign contribution from CEO Patrick Magoon.

Again in the Tribune today, we find a story about a fundraiser for Jessie Jackson, Jr. with more than two dozen attendees aimed at supporting Mr. Jackson's bid for the soon-to-be-up-for-sale Senate seat in Illinois, one of whom was a Joliet pharmacist Harish Bhatt.

It seems Bhatt's two Basinger Pharmacy outlets might have needed a few "regulatory favors" after helping the state's top pharmacy regulator win his job.

And why would Raghu Nayak, a political community leader in Chicago's Indian community "who has raised several hundred of thousands of dollars for Blagojevich, including more than $200,000 from Najak, his wife, and various corporations" need to support Blagojevich? Could it have something to do with the series of surgery centers Nayak owns on Chicago's North Side or the drug testing laboratory with millions of dollars in Illinois public aid contracts in which he retained an ownership stake?

Could similar behind-the-scenes dealings happen as our new health care policy initiatives are constructed and the Big Boys on the Hill make their plays with their campaign contributors in mind? Could there be, like the Tribune's columnist John Kass suggests, a man or two behind the curtain as our new health care plan is being hatched?

Say it ain't so.


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