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A health care solution for county

Sunday, March 27, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times
Editorial

Is it possible, in these economically troubled times on the health care front, to provide coverage for the high number of uninsured and underinsured low-income individuals in Cook County -- in their own communities -- without putting a burden on the county or taxpayers? Commissioner Forrest Claypool says yes. Working with officials from the Access Community Health Network and other health authorities, he is proposing the establishment of a "safety-net health care system" to bridge and coordinate public and private health providers in such a way that the uninsured will have broader access to care and a better chance of overcoming inequities in their coverage that force them to travel far beyond their community for care. Some needy individuals who have Medicaid have been denied access to specialists who don't accept that coverage.

The plan, which is in use in St. Louis, will face stiff resistance on the county board, where the only thing independents like Claypool and members loyal to President John Stroger can agree on is what day of the week it is. But it's a win-win proposal. Money won't be required for new providers because they already exist. And with a decline in the use of emergency rooms for non-emergency needs and serious conditions that health facilities can get to earlier, a large amount of money could be saved.



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