Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

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.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Pol takes aim at hospitals
Suffredin seeking $200 million a year to fund county system

Sunday, October 08, 2006
Crain's Chicago Business

A Cook County commissioner wants to squeeze as much as $200 million a year from local hospitals to help fund the county's cash-starved health system.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin says he'll introduce a measure in coming weeks that will pose a choice to the county's more than 50 non-profit hospitals: Offer more free medical services to ease the burden on the struggling county hospital system, contribute cash to that system or pay property taxes.

Mr. Suffredin is moving quickly following a recent state ruling upholding Champaign County's right to tax Provena Covenant Medical Center of Urbana because it failed to meet charitable-care standards for tax-exempt hospitals. Mr. Suffredin's plan would face vigorous opposition from the industry, and it's too early to say whether other commissioners will back him.
Mr. Suffredin is pitting a government badly in need of revenue — John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital and other Cook medical facilities face a $94-million projected loss this fiscal year — against an industry already facing criticism in Illinois and Washington, D.C., over its charitable activities.

"The Provena ruling is going to put a lot more pressure on hospitals to show they have a charitable side to their operations," Mr. Suffredin says. "I'm setting up a framework to encourage them to come to us first. Those who aren't cooperative are the ones we'll ask the assessor to aggressively focus on."

Cook's health system makes up 28% of the county's $3.1 billion budget.
Tax exemptions for hospitals and other entities are determined by the state on recommendations from local governments. A ruling last month by Illinois Department of Revenue Director Brian Hamer could embolden local governments to put hospitals on their tax rolls. Mr. Hamer upheld Illinois' 2004 denial of Provena Covenant's tax-exempt status, concluding it didn't provide enough free care to warrant an exemption. Parent company Provena Health of Mokena plans to appeal the ruling in court.

"This ruling suddenly gives cash-strapped local governments an opening to say, 'Hey, maybe we should look at this charity-care issue more closely,' " says Stephen Weyl, a New Hampshire attorney who advises hospitals on tax-exemption issues.

Mr. Suffredin's measure would seek binding agreements from Cook County's non-profit hospitals to devote a set percentage of their operating budgets either directly to the county's health system or toward free medical care for uninsured residents. Hospitals that balk would be subjected to a detailed analysis of their charity care and property tax breaks.
Mr. Suffredin says hospitals would give free care or cash in the equivalent of 8% of their operating budgets, citing a figure proposed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in a bill that stalled earlier this year amid hospital opposition. The state hospital lobby recently began fresh talks with Ms. Madigan, who intends to push for new legislation next year if the sides can't agree.

Cook County's tax-exempt hospitals provided $152 million in charity care in 2004, even though nearly half of them lose money on operations, according to the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council.

"If you place this new burden on them, where are they going to come up with the money?" says Kevin Scanlan, the council's CEO. "They'll have to curtail programs and services, and that would push more people back on the county system." Cook County's health system should cut costs before looking to hospitals for revenue, he says.

Cook County Assessor James Houlihan is appraising all non-profit hospitals at the request of the board. A spokesman says values won't be available until early next year.
Some commissioners support forcing hospitals to provide more charity care, but differ on how to achieve that goal.

Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele wants to wait until Mr. Houlihan's work is complete before making any decisions, but says tax-exempt hospitals should provide charity care at least equal to their property tax exemption, a spokeswoman says.
Commissioner Forrest Claypool says he's open to a county measure to address the issue, but is skeptical of a "one-size-fits-all" solution that could hurt hospitals that serve large numbers of poor patients. He says the matter is best left to Ms. Madigan to settle.
"There's no doubt that some hospitals probably don't deserve their tax break, but I don't think we should throw the baby out with the bath water," Mr. Claypool says.



Recent Headlines

Northfield woman’s plea prompts assessor’s relief for floodplain homeowners
Friday, September 20, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Why is Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi belatedly lowering property taxes for some New Trier homes?
Thursday, September 19, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Jail’s book limit ruled as proper
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Chicago Daily law Bulletin

Prisoner escapes from Chicago police custody en route to Cook County Jail
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

County clerk’s office needs federal oversight
Monday, September 16, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

City Club of Chicago: Toni Preckwinkle – Advancing Racial Equity in Cook County
Monday, September 16, 2019
WGN Radio

Choosing Cook County judges, Justice Ginsburg reminds us, should not be a popularity contest
Monday, September 16, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Kim Foxx interested, wary of working with Trump White House on criminal justice reform
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Is Clerk Karen Yarbrough ‘best official’ in county — or is patronage hiring flap only ‘tip of the iceberg’?
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

A secret vote will choose Cook County’s next judicial chief. A $270 million budget, thousands of employees, and the future of a huge court system are at stake.
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Evans Faces Challenge Thursday For Position As Cook County Chief Judge
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
WBEZ News

Cook County Health's John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital Receives $5M Federal Grant to Support Cancer Research
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Daily Herald

Cook County Forest Preserves Might Pitch Property Tax Hike To Voters
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
WBEZ News

Column: Ethically, Todd Ricketts owes Cook County six more years of property taxes on his Wilmette house. He should pay up.
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Watchdog accuses County Clerk Karen Yarbrough of running ‘illegal patronage’ operation, wants court oversight
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Prosecutors Decline To File Charges In About 1 In Every 5 Murder Cases
Thursday, September 05, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County Maps Story of Opioid Epidemic with New Website
Thursday, September 05, 2019
WBEZ News

Slow refund checks for Water Tower residents—including the county treasurer—lead to proposed fee
Wednesday, September 04, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Criminal history vs. compassion? County debate over role of rap sheets in rental decisions
Wednesday, September 04, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County’s new law barring landlords from turning away tenants with certain criminal backgrounds faces controversy
Wednesday, September 04, 2019
Chicago Tribune

all news items

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