CLEVELAND, OH – The Cleveland City Directory of 1974 identifies 47 hospitals in the nation’s 8th largest city that year. Within and around Cleveland’s direct municipal borders were 7000 hospital beds that had been built into our health care infrastructure since City Hospital was constructed in 1837 after the cholera pandemic. This story’s feature image is of the newly-constructed free Cleveland hospital 184 years ago.
As Cleveland experienced more pandemics the city’s enlightened political and health care leaders pushed for and enacted laws that provided funding to increase hospital bed capacity and expand free care. By 1937 Cleveland’s City Hospital was the 6th largest medical facility in the United States of America; and the accomplishment was achieved under the mayor and council’s control.
The cost of health care was legislatively built into residency through a tiny property tax. $1 per year for every $1000 in a property’s value.
Wages were limited by council’s salary ordinance for physicians and administrative support staff. Medications were purchased through the purchasing department and so was medical equipment and supplies. City physicians or nurses made house calls. No unions. The City Record from the 1940’s and 50’s is reflective of the topics above.
Municipal workers who resided in Cleveland were covered. There was and remains, under the laws of our state, no need for Obamacare, Medicare for all or universal health care. The mafia-controlled medical health care insurance industry was nothing Americans needed. If Cleveland officials and its federal representatives had wanted it from 1837 until 1983 they would have enacted laws to authorize private health care insurance regulations instead of providing it to Americans for “almost” free.
Instead of businesses paying health care costs; owners hiring Cleveland residents didn’t worry about health care as an expense. Value was added to Cleveland residency for the employers who hired the city’s residents.
City, state and federal officials from Ohio – like former Cleveland Mayors Harold Hitz Burton and Frank Lausche – took their health care concerns to higher offices. Burton sponsored the Hill-Burton Act of 1946 to provide funds for free hospitals while a member of the United States Senate.
Lausche as governor signed Section 749.01 of the Ohio Revised Code on October 1, 1953 and codified low costs into municipal health care. With aid from the Hill-Burton Act hospitals built with the federal money would be free to the needy in perpetuity. 4200 hospitals were built with the money across the nation. Every single Hill-Burton Act funded hospital in Ohio is either closed or demolished in a state where free health care is codified. There are only 127 left across our nation as a demonstration of organized crime’s complete control of our access to the kind of high quality and affordable health care our laws intended.
Health care administration was supposed to be public, locally-controlled and corruption-resistant until Mayor Anthony Celebreeze Sr. and a Democratic Party-controlled council decided in 1958 that the county commissioners could do a better job managing City Hospital than him as Cleveland’s chief law enforcement officer. 126 years of enlightened and purposeful thinking to build a superior free municipal health care system to cover future pandemics was destroyed by the historically and culturally ignorant.
The 1950’s were the first years of Democratic council majorities; and with them came the infiltration of the local ethnic mafias and organized crime into the “business” of city hall. Elected officials without in depth knowledge of the city’s government don’t appreciate the wisdom that comes from making a deeply-studied decision.
By 1983 Democrat Richard Frank Celeste replaced Republican Governor James Rhodes as Ohio’s chief administrative law enforcement officer. There is no doubt he and Youngstown State Senator Harry Meshel encouraged and opened up the organized criminal element in Ohio government by giving the “pension fund building” organized labor union bosses the collective bargaining laws they wanted.
Labor unions were authorized to negotiate working conditions and not wages and benefits until 1983 and a Democratic-controlled Ohio General Assembly. Celeste set Ohio up to be raped by the public employee unions whose bosses were pushing for private health care insurance the unions were investing in, higher wages, no residency and protections for the criminals and civil rights violators among them. The public employee unions afterwards used member dues to endorse candidates willing to give them the laws that would eventually lead to six figure taxpayer paid pensions for public workers.
Embedded within Ohio court cases are battles between failed business partners and associates with little known details about “characteristic changing” societal events.
Attorney Kenneth Seminatore has been dead (2010) long enough to not be remembered by a current generation of politicians, medical professionals and journalists leading Cleveland’s health care discussions. Some may know Attorney John Climaco’s name, but they don’t know him as Teamster International President Jackie Presser’s attorney. He and brother, Michael, also represented actor and singer Sammy Davis Jr. The Plain Dealer’s former editorial pages director, Brent Larkin, once kept a desk in the law office.
It’s how Blue Cross Blue Shield of Ohio became a Climaco client to the tune of about $80 million in legal fees over 13 years which stands as the single event that brought an organized criminal element into Cleveland and Ohio health care. Despite not even knowing these people, there’s every reason for today’s decision makers to search for and explore Seminatore v. Climaco, Unpublished Decision (12-7-2000), No. 76658. (Ohio Ct. App. 2000). Below is just a sample of the information to be learned entering this “blue pill” rabbit hole that he left with an 8th District Court of Appeals opinion written by Judge Michael J. Corrigan.
“In December of 1983, the appellant was invited to a Christmas party hosted by Gerald Austin, a political operative who was closely connected to then governor, Richard Celeste. As the party was to be held in Columbus, Austin suggested that the appellant ride down to the cocktail party with another acquaintance of his, John “Jack” Burry, who was a corporate officer of Medical Mutual Insurance Company. About halfway to Columbus Burry retained the appellant to provide legal representation on behalf of Medical Mutual — Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Ohio (“BC/BS”).
It would be an understatement to suggest that BC/BS proved to be a very lucrative client for CCLG. During the course of the firm’s representation of BC/BS from sometime in 1984 through early 1997, CCLG grossed approximately $80,000,000 in revenue from BC/BS. In order to accommodate the extensive requirements involved in representing BC/BS on such a large scale, the CCLG firm developed a dedicated legal unit whose express purpose was to service the needs of its star client and, also, leased additional office space in downtown Cleveland away from its headquarters in the Halle Building. The appellant testified at trial that during the majority of the time that BC/BS was a client of CCLG he devoted one hundred percent of his time to working on BC/BS files and to generally attending to the legal needs of BC/BS.”
Behind the scenes were decisions Presser made with about $4 billion in Teamster pension and health care funds. I know the man who acquired Presser’s records after his death in 1987. I also worked with Presser’s bodyguard, Anthony Hughes, and met Harold Friedman through him. Friedman replaced Presser. Russian Jews who are engaged in criminal activities appear to intentionally affiliate themselves with federal law enforcement agencies. They snitch for special favors. American Israeli Public Affairs Committee founder Isaiah Kenen’s snitching was viewed as unreliable by the FBI starting in 1948.
In Presser’s case his handler was a fellow Eastern European ethnic named FBI special agent Robert Friedrick. He was indicted and convicted for lying about a warning he gave Presser in 1986. Presser died in 1987 and Clevelanders should remember him as the man who replaced Jimmy Hoffa. I met Friedrick at the Mardi Gras restaurant across from the Plain Dealer on E. 19th Street during my time publishing The Independent in East Cleveland. I was at a table with AFL-CIO President Richard Acton and his son weeks before the younger Acton’s suicide.
Presser invested $2 billion in health care dollars from the members into Medical Mutual (Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Ohio) and another $2 billion from the pension fund was invested into Bank One when it operated with just four branches. Seminatore explained how the firm was generating over $2 million a month in legal fees from each entity. He was a school board member and I was a publisher campaigning for a Cleveland school board seat in 1983. I received over 17,000 votes that year. I remember when Seminatore entered law school.
What made the Teamster involvement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Ohio and Medical Mutual a sweet deal was the presence of Forest City Enterprises President Samuel Miller (birth name Minkin) on on both boards. Cleveland Clinic and Medical Mutual. Whatever Cleveland Clinic’s board billed Medical Mutual’s board wouldn’t question. The business practice also affected the cost of medical malpractice insurance as premiums increased.
Private practitioners feeling the pinch of inflated medical malpractice insurance premiums were soon visited by players like South African physician Dr. Michael Nochomovitz. The big hospitals – Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals – were offering cash to independent physicians for their medical practices; and the bigger dollars went to the physicians who scheduled more surgeries. Nochomovitz was the buyout front man for University Hospitals. Although he was of Russian ancestry the alien was born in South Africa and called himself an “African American.”
Everything about the health care model emerging after the facts revealed in Seminatore’s claim against the Climaco brothers reeked of a Russian mob takeover of the local medical industry after Celeste’s 8 years as governor. Price fixing increased health care costs. They controlled the insurance industry so raising medical malpractice insurance rates created a shortage of independent practitioners. Bribes to local elected officials in cities like East Cleveland resulted in buildings like Huron Hospital’s being demolished.
There were 204 beds at Huron Hospital before Cleveland Clinic’s ex-Chief Executive Officer, Delos Cosgrove, cut an illegal, mob-like deal with convicted ex-Mayor Gary Alexander Norton, Jr. to close and demolish it in 2011. Cosgrove and the Cleveland Clinic board paid Independence Excavating $12 million to demolish Huron Hospital while building a 660 bed facility in Saudi Arabia.
Cosgrove delivered East Cleveland’s $8 million to a bank account Norton, Michael Smedley and former director of finance Ronald Brooks transferred funds to and from that council had not authorized or knew existed. It was a move that wiped out the only gunshot wound trauma center in the area; and the best in the state. Lives were being saved that are now lost because Clevelanders are dying while traveling the long ride to MetroHealth. A former hospital president told EJBNEWS the city needs no fewer than five additional emergency rooms.
Today there are five hospitals with 2650 beds located directly inside the city of Cleveland that are supposed to be available to the general population according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Louis Stokes Veterans Administration Hospital has an authorized bed count of 660 for military personnel and veterans.
The facts are that Cleveland Clinic and University Hospital’s emergency room doors are not fully open to Cleveland residents. Cleveland Clinic’s got 6000 beds spread out all over the world instead of 6000 beds in Cleveland and its suburbs; and its continued access to federal funds they’re using to prop up a global enterprise should be challenged by the the 11th Congressional District’s federal representatives; as well as the city’s mayor and council.
The St. Luke’s Hospital that served southeast side residents is an apartment complex for seniors. The rest of the city’s hospitals – those like Mount Sinai – have been demolished. Only some Baby Boomers and their parents remember the American Negro-owned Forest City Hospital at St. Clair Avenue and Parkwood.
Cleveland would not be experiencing a bed count shortage if health care had remained under municipal instead of corporate control. The farther politicians get away from looking back before they look forward the dumber their decisions. How stupid is it that Cleveland once had 47 hospitals in 1974 and now has five because of organized crime and dumb azzed politicians going on a closing and demolition spree? Now what was has to be restored; and the politicians who should be thinking about restoring what was are trying to give away the federal money that would help restore it to developers and non-profits.
Mayor-elect Justin Bibb would do himself well to reject any advice he gets from Dr. Amy Stearns “Quackton” Acton about health care. She answered “yes” on her Ohio Medical Board application to being treated for mental illness and drug addiction. Her mother called her a liar about being homeless, living in a park and moving 18 times. It took her 4 years to earn a one year medical residency. Stearns-Acton’s residency physicians didn’t sign off for her to treat patients so she taught and worked on grants. Is this a thing of birds of a feather flocking together?
Mayors in Ohio have no authority to suspend the constitution, charter or any law or ordinance. If Bibb starts issuing “orders” he thinks will keep people from being hit with cold and flu viruses like the Chinese alien doing her Xi Jinping imitation in Boston as mayor; he’ll be wasting time and adding another criminal charge to the growing list. What Bibb can do is ask council to join him in studying Section 749.01 of the Ohio Revised Code and using some of the $512 million to build at least five to new “municipal owned” emergency rooms or urgent care centers in Cleveland. Council can also fund the cost of “mobile clinics” to let people find “medical treatment on the block.”
The influence of the Russian mafia on business and government in Cleveland has been sickeningly about destroying the competition. Less competition and it’s more money for their organized crime families. It’s a business model that has no place in health care.