Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  The Cook County Law Library is the second largest County law library in the nation.
   
     
     
     



Study: Patronage bad for county's health

Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

Cook County runs an "archaic" health system set up to allow "a clear opportunity to use the system for political hiring," according to an analysis released Monday.
The six-month study by the Institute for Health Care Studies at Northwestern University notes that most health-care officials interviewed complained the Cook County Bureau of Health had too many patronage workers in key positions for it to operate effectively or efficiently.
That is among a number of problems facing the $926 million bureau, which is in drastic need of an overhaul in the way it delivers health care to the poor and uninsured, it says.
COOK COUNTY'S HEALTH SYSTEM BY THE NUMBERS
$926 MILLION
The amount Cook County spends on health care for poor and uninsured.
160,000
Number of people visiting Stroger Hospital's emergency room this year. Another 750,000 will visit county clinics.
70 PERCENT
The share of patients at all emergency rooms and clinics who are uninsured.
$302 MILLION
"Bad debt" or unpaid bills written off by the county; three times the amount in 1994.
$54.6 MILLION
The shortfall in expected patient fees for the Health Bureau so far this year. Stroger Hospital alone has collected $38 million less than expected.
STUDY'S PRESCRIPTION
The Northwestern University study provided an action agenda to improve the Cook County Bureau of Health. It includes:
•  Creation of a public/private commission to help restructure the bureau and assess its effectiveness and efficiency.
•  Make bureau leaders explain how they will make up for cuts in Medicaid reimbursements.
•  More effectively serve the growing immigrant and poor population in the suburbs by re-evaluating placement of clinics and programs and partnering with private hospitals.
•  Evaluate the bureau's share of property taxes and whether it would function better under a governing board separate from the county board and president.
•  Budget for needs and demands, free from countywide hiring freezes.
•  Develop an operational priority agenda, regular report cards to target and chart progress.
How to give budget a quick trim
The Cook County Bureau of Health spends $926 million a year providing services at four hospitals and dozens of clinics, with $473 million going to salaries for 7,910 employees.
Commissioner Roberto Maldonado once said as much as $130 million is spent in duplicate jobs. Commissioner Forrest Claypool successfully pushed through an order to consolidate many jobs, saving more than $8 million a year, but the edict was ignored by then-President John Stroger. Among the bloat critics point to:
•  Seven separate administrative departments, 73 people at a cost of $6.8 million.
•  Six separate human resources departments, 35 people at a cost of $2.1 million.
•  Six separate finance departments, 27 people at a cost of $1.6 million.
•  Four separate public relations departments, 11 people at a cost of $468,000.
That overhaul, the report adds, should include oversight from a panel other than the Cook County Board and hiring decisions made by someone other than the County Board president -- a one-person hiring process unlike any other system in the country.
Citing a "pending crisis that will require leadership" to fix, Institute director Dr. Kevin Weiss said consultants should be hired to help the county fix problems in need of being immediately addressed.
The report notes the growing demand for services and shrinking federal resources, but also calls for the bureau to develop a long-term financial strategy, partnerships with private hospitals and budgeting to meet needs.
Claypool applauds report
Commissioner Forrest Claypool, the most vocal critic of county health operations, applauded the findings.
"We can't afford to maintain this giant, political patronage empire, this bureaucratic wasteland, at the expense of the working poor," he said.
The report was prepared without any cooperation or support from health bureau leaders or then-Board President John Stroger, it notes.
Board President Bobbie Steele said she is preparing to take many of the steps recommended in the report during the four months she'll serve.
The report, described as "a call to action" by its authors, says that without change, "a serious disruption" could occur in the quality of care.
Dr. Whitney Addington, who also assisted with the report, cited "a number of urgent concerns," adding "disease and suffering will follow if the concerns raised in this report are not addressed."
Cut waste or raise taxes?
Weiss said property taxes might need to be increased to fund those changes, but the county first needs to study whether they are "optimizing current revenue."
Patricia Terrell, of Health Management Associates, said virtually every other public agency running hospitals has given up control to a separate hospital district, with a board made up of health-care experts -- among the items Addington said the board should address at a special board meeting this month.
"This is preventative medicine," Terrell said. "This is preventing a crisis."


Recent Headlines

Pappas: There's help for senior citizens struggling to pay Cook County property taxes
Friday, December 14, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County Public Guardian sues DCFS: “Abject moral and human rights failure”
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Capitol Fax

Borrow $10B to help stabilize city pensions along with legal pot, casino and benefit cuts: Rahm
Thursday, December 13, 2018
The Daily Line

CTA Moves Forward with Major Red Line Projects:
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County repeals lower parking-app tax rate
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

How local suburbs voted in Cook County minimum wage/paid sick leave advisory referenda
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
The Bugel

Cook County restores tax on parking apps before January cut took effect
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County Board to take on taxes,toilets at Wednesday meeting
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

PRECKWINKLE’s tax tweak — Details on BURKE raids — State REPUBLICANS look for hope — SUMMERS’ tirade
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Illinois Politico

Woman, 19, arrested after escaping police custody at Cook County courthouse
Sunday, December 09, 2018
WLS ABC Chicago 7

Here's an exciting prospect: A boring assessor's office
Saturday, December 08, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Sheriff starts unique inmate program to combat Chicago's gun epidemic
Thursday, December 06, 2018
RTV 6 Indianapolis

Staff feud at tax appeals board turns nasty
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Tax Bills Posted Online Three Months Early
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
CBS Chicago

County Board makes it easier to choose Preckwinkle successor
Tuesday, December 04, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

New Cook County assessor vows end to favoritism as he takes office
Monday, December 03, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

New Cook County Board members sworn in Monday
Monday, December 03, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County referendums: 'Yes' to everything
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Chicago City Wire

Glenview to discuss Cook County minimum wage, paid sick leave ordinances in December
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Wilmette reverses course, fully adopts both county minimum wage and sick time rules
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP